Serious cases of murder, rioting, embezzlement, extortion etc continue to remain in an endless queue yet the cases of people with political God fathers or, Mr.Deep Pockets, continue to keep jumping the queue. This short-circuiting of the judicial process, it appears now, has blown the fuse of the whole system itself, writes Prof. H C Pande
The recent hypersonic Supreme Court hearings on the matter of bail to Teesta Setalwad has removed the last fig-leaf and the Judiciary is left standing in the birthday suit. So far the rot in the judicial system was attributed to the shenanigans of lawyers and court officials and it was felt that Hon’ble Justices and legal luminaries are aware of the issues and that the rot would be surgically removed in due course. Alas this dream now lies shattered in the, increasingly barren, judicial landscape by this single incident.
Clearly, there exist powerful forces who can remove the blindfolds of Goddess Themis at will, and, consequently tilt the scales of justice in the direction needed, whenever and wherever required.
On one hand, any number of serious cases remain pending in the courts for years, and, quite a few, for generations, just for a hearing but the average citizen is favoured with only the Nelson Eye look by Mr.Justice. Yet on the other hand, the privileged ones, having access to the ‘Big League Barristers’, adept at bending the law with bluff, bluster, and, the dangerous impression is growing, blackmail, are able to summon the highest court of the land, at the drop of a hat, to hear cases listed just hours back. Serious cases of murder, rioting, embezzlement, extortion etc continue to remain in an endless queue yet the cases of people with political God fathers or, Mr.Deep Pockets, continue to keep jumping the queue. This short-circuiting of the judicial process, it appears now, has blown the fuse of the whole system itself.
It is ironical that the judiciary, which functions to ensure that the constitution is not violated and the Executive does not exceed its brief, is far to keen to overstep its own, delineated mandate, in the constitution. The simple fact, that, the judiciary is there to interpret the laws and not make the laws, is being increasingly forgotten by Mr. Justice.
Even more serious is the increasing appetite of M’Lords to play up to the select galleries that encourage (misguide?) them to deliver the so-called landmark judgements, upholding human rights, forgetting human wrongs.
In the much talked about Udaipur Kanhaiya Lal murder case, a Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court thought it fit to dilute this case of plain murder, being heard in lower courts, by sermonising Nupur Sharma on her remarks as a participant in a TV show, while hearing Ms.Sharma’s petition for relief. This was extra-ordinary as the sermon was totally unrelated to the case being heard. The issue was simple, whether for the same charge, in the courts of a number of states, a person can be given relief in the sense that the person need appear in only one court where all the cases have been clubbed.There is an existing Supreme Court ruling in the matter. The Hon’ble Justices for some reason first blamed the petitioner for what happened one month after the TV debate remarks had been made, and,then rejected the petition That the Hon’ble Justices ignored the existing ruling of brother Justices of the same Court is not the issue,but that they,by their out of context remarks, directly influenced a case of clear murder being heard in the lower court, seems to smack of incompetence or influence.
In contrast is the matter of bail granted to Teesta Setalwad by the Supreme Court. In the background of the order of immediate arrest by the Gujarat High court, after due diligence. The instant bail granted by the Hon’ble Bench of the highest court to the petitioner is inexplicable. The illuminating remark from the Hon’ble Supreme Court Bench, while berating the High Court judgement, is ‘The Heavens would not have fallen if immediate arrest had not been made’. A remark reflecting the clear prejudice of the Hon’ble Bench in favour of the petitioner. The two cases of prejudice, one in favour of, and, the other against the petitioner speak volumes of the caliber of judiciary.
Your Honor, the Heavens fell long ago!
(Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus , BITS, Mesra)