Justice delayed is justice denied!
So finally the Army Chief has moved court! Whether the court will give the justice that is his due remains to be seen.
The incredulity is not without basis. That our courts are notorious for delaying their judgments is accepted even by the most vociferous defenders of our judiciary. The reasons they quote may or may not be valid. For example the most quoted reason is the dearth of judges. And in support of this they are heard quoting another false logic- the judge to population ratio, made popular by the Maliamath Committee. Maliamath had argued that this ratio is 50 judges per million population in developed countries whereas in India it is only 10.5 judges per million population. To the gullible this may sound as pretty sound logic. But in a country where 40 pc of the population is below poverty line and almost 60 pc illiterate, the ones who are really concerned with law, rights and courts can be seen to be substantially meager! And those who have been to a court even once, either as a petitioner or as a respondent can easily understand that our courts need to really overhaul their procedures to be optimally productive. One aspect of this has been brought to light by a legal luminary practicing in the apex court of the land itself and that is it is not the judge to population ratio that matters but the judge to docket ratio! The statistics he has quoted is irrefutable too. While in the US of A, in the year 1999, 93.81 million cases were filed, in India it was only 13.6 million cases! The dockets per judge there was 3235, whereas here it was only 987!
But leave the delay part aside. Still, will the courts deliver a just decision? Again, the answer is: doubtful! The courts have a plethora of reasons for going wrong on their decisions, beginning from lop sided investigation to even more lop sided presentation of the case/arguments by the advocates. We have seen how even election petitions take almost 5 years, if not more, to be finally disposed of by our judiciary. What is the use of holding the election of an MP or MLA invalid after he had continued to represent his constituency for, say, more than 4 years? Is there any way that the damage done could be undone?
We all know that even a fair decision of the court delivered later than 10 May 2012 will have only a notional effect. But why should the trial and judgement go beyond say, 3 months? There is no dispute that the actual date of birth of Gen V K Singh is 10 May 1951. The usual authentic record for this purpose is the Matriculation or Secondary School Leaving Certificate. And there are provisions for correcting even this record if some mistake had crept into it initially. But even that is not the case with Gen Singh. His record on this is absolutely clear. The only mistake had been in the application that was submitted for his admission to the National Defence Academy and that too had been corrected at the intervention of the UPSC even before his admission to the NDA. And G E Vahanvati, the Government’s legal expert could only blurt out a totally illegal and idiotic reason for insisting on Gen V K Singh’s dob to be officially recognised as 1950- a nonexistent ‘line of succession’ theory! (Incidentally, this ‘line of succession’ theory makes sense only if viewed from the point that the next in line to be the COAS is Lt Gen Bikram Singh- the second sardar to make it to the Chief’s office during Sardar Man Mohan Singh’s tenure as PM!) Another idiotic statement was made by a former defense secretary- that Gen V K Singh had accepted his dob as 1950 during his earlier promotions! What this babu forgot was that he was indirectly saying that Gen V K Singh had been blackmailed by his ilk and the politicians to accept a blatantly unfair decision on the eve of his well earned promotions!
The courts have come down heavily on the government on some occasions in the matter of its treatment of the nation’s soldiers. But unfortunately even the courts have refrained from going beyond such platitudes. It is truly said that governments can function (or not), the media can ignore national interest and politicians can shut down the nation, only so long as the nation exists. And if the nation owes its existence to anybody it is the soldier more than to anybody else. And unless this translates to recognition of his honour and esteem, the nation shall indeed be in peril, sooner than later!
Readers are also invited to to read
Army Chief Crisis: UPA & Judiciary equally to blame Sandhya Jain 18 January 2012 at http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=2146