P M Ravindran
2/18, 'Aathira', Sivapuri, Kalpathy-678003
Tele: 0491-2576042; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
File:Pers/jud-cji jsk-reforms-120317 12 Mar 2017
Mr J S Kehar,
Further to my letter, Pers/jud-cji jsk-reforms-310117 dated 31 Jan 2017, ( I hope you got to read it!)
When I wrote to you about the need for a National Judicial Accountability Commission, which can try complaints against the omissions and commissions of judges as per ordinary laws applicable to ordinary citizens, I did not expect you to put it in practice begining with a high court judge, Karnan! NJAC be damned, I know that our apex court has the power to make laws to fill in the voids where they exist. Take it further, why should the taxpayer’s money be wasted on such an elaborate system of electing representatives to law making bodies who have no qualifications whatsoever required for such an important subject (just to refresh your memory, the Kerala High Court has decided that journalists who can report court proceeding should be qualified in law! Well, a petition to remove the bar on media in the courts of kerala is pending in the apex court, as has been reported by the media! While on the rights of the media to report whatever they feel like reporting, I must compliment the judges of the apex court who have refused to entertain a petition seeking prosecution of some journalists who had allegedly taken money to write favourably for the accused firm in the infamous VVIP hepter scam!)
Having said that, judge Karnan’s case also is seen as sending only the wrong signals! You may ask how? Well, the begining of it all happens to be his allegations against some of his colleagues in the Chennai High Court, isn’t it? Have those allegations been investigated formally and finally disposed of? While the general nature of the allegations have been reported by the media there have been no such reports about any investigations done or any of the allegations being proved right or wrong. So the contempt proceedings and the present warrant for arrest are all aptly summed up by the proverb ‘putting the cart before the horse‘, isn’t it?
I shall conclude with a few relevant quotes:
“Already citizens are frustrated with the justice delivery system and only less than 10% of the litigants who have disputes are approaching the court," Justice Kirubakaran observed. -Rise in contempt of court cases irks Madras high court, A Subramani, TNN | Feb 24, 2013, 03.45 AM IST available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rise-in-in-contempt-of-court-cases-irks-Madras-high-court/articleshow/18651932.cms?intenttarget=no.
“An extra constitutional, unannounced and invisible emergency is being imposed through our courts and civil society has to be alert to this and react effectively.“- Adv Kaleeswaram Raj, ‘Vidhi prathilomakaram thanne‘, Mathrubhumi of 10 Nov 2011.
“The only obstacle in the way of drastic civil service reform — like the one pursued by the present government at the Centre — is the judiciary that overturns or stays every administrative action against an erring senior officer. Courts would earn the admiration of a harassed public if they stopped interfering in disciplinary matters once they are satisfied that prescribed procedures had been followed in a case coming up before them and there is no malice writ large on a decision. Judicial overstepping, while correcting unjust action against a few honest civil servants, unwittingly promotes the cause of many unscrupulous elements. The track record of administrative tribunals in the country is a matter of great concern to those looking for a balanced and objective bureaucracy. There is need here for an immediate corrective by the Union Law Ministry.“- R.K. Raghavan ( former CBI Director), ‘ Dealing with the deadwood‘, JANUARY 23, 2017 00:15 IST at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/Dealing-with-the-deadwood/article17078468.ece?homepage=true
“Despite issuing interim orders as early as in 2013 making the securing of the Aadhaar card optional, the court has failed to adequately enforce its directions — seemingly every day the government and its various agencies appear to extend the use of the unique ID linking it with the provision of a number of essential services. The court can be excused for failing to haul up the government for contempt of its orders were it to expedite its hearing of the basic challenge to the UID scheme. But the Constitution Bench established to determine whether India’s citizens have a fundamental right to privacy, which the Aadhaar policy quite clearly appears to contravene, is yet to hear concrete arguments on the issue.“- ‘2016: The Supreme Court’s report card‘, Suhrith Parthasarthy (Advocate at the Madras High Court) DECEMBER 31, 2016 00:15 IST at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/2016-The-Supreme-Court%E2%80%99s-report-card/article16965545.ece
Way back in 2002, in an article ‘Democracy?…East Is East And West Is West!’ (available at https://www.scribd.com/document/341637658/East-is-East-and-West-is-West-030602 ) I myself had written:
Rule of Law not Rule of Judges. The mainstay of any civilized society, leave alone a democracy, is the rule of the law. For any law to be effective it should, first of all, be simple, clear and unambiguous. The affected people should understand it and imbibe it in letter and spirit. The need to go to courts to get interpretations for each and every clause certainly doesn’t speak well of the competence of our legislators. And worse, when the judiciary interprets the same law to mean different, sometimes even contradictory, things under different contexts, the public can only get confused and confounded, as they are now. In this context it would be worth recalling that confusion had prevailed even in recognising the preamble of our Constitution as an integral part of it! In 1961, the Supreme Court had observed that ‘the preamble is not part of the Constitution’, but in 1973, it held that ‘the preamble of the Constitution was part of the Constitution and the observations to the contrary in Berubari Union case were not correct’! Our present Union Minister for Disinvestment, Mr Arun Shourie, has done yeomen service in compiling a number of intriguing cases in a book titled ‘Courts and their judgements’. At the function held to release the book he also made a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: that there should be a group of scholars reviewing all sensitive rulings of the higher courts so that the judges were also careful that their judgements were subjects to scrutiny! And this is what Ms Arundhati Roy, Booker-prize winner, has said: ‘the process of the trial and all that it entails, is as much, if not more of a punishment than the sentence itself’.
Sri J S Kehar
CJI, Supreme Court of India