The White Wall of Judiciary is discoloured!
First time after Independence, the cats from the Judiciary are out of the bag. The Press Conference by four dissenting Judges in unprecedented and as suchthe citizens of the largest democracy are getting the chance to give justice about the actions of the Judges, who are supposed to be the Guards of our Constitution. After the press conference, it looked like the public, the media all were silent, and then slowly all bombarded the white walls of the Judiciary with colourful political bombs. The situation created is unexpected, condemnable and needs serious thought to cure the wound. In fact, the rift over the use of administrative power for allocating roster of cases between four Judges and Chief Justice of Supreme Court has become the curious case of Indian Justice System in public debate. Instead of resolving their rift internally or with Hon’ble President of India, other subordinate agencies like Bar Council of India and Bar Associations of Apex Court, jumped in the name of the Highest Judiciary to resolve their differences, which became mockery of the top Indian Judiciary System. It is felt by the wide section of the people that the Highest Judiciary should never come up to Media and should approach President and CJI and hold up a joint committee to find a resolution. For, this type of act breaks the faith and shows the misery of our own Judiciary system, which is independent of all political interventions, as per our Constitution. They should remember that if Judiciary is at crisis, so is our country. Now that the dirty linen is washed in public, one wonders if the SC can retrieve its lost image. This is the result of too much of insulation from the scrutiny of an independent mechanism- In the insistence of an impartial justice delivery system, free from all external influences, what has resulted is a system that has a weak self-correcting mechanism. Otherwise, any simmering discontent could have been addressed. The four SC Judges, who gave the press statement, would have definitely found an appropriate venue for redressal of their grievances. It is the public perception that justice is too serious a matter to be left to the Judges alone. In every system, there are good and bad elements. Creating a water-tight compartment, unfortunately, results in protecting the bad elements. The whole system needs to be revisited by discarding holier than thou attitude. This requires an openness of mind sans touch-me-not attitude. The Indian Judiciary has the best minds and one hopes the best from them. The Judiciary has to own the full liability of the latest development in the Supreme Court. One wonders how issues of the powers of CJI vis-à-vis other Judges and the process of assigning cases to different Benches could not be settled by these great men of justice.
If senior Judges are alone competent to judge serious cases in public domain, does it mean that junior Judges are incompetent, on the other hand? How does one evaluate a case as being high-profile and otherwise? How do we know that senior Judges are more competent and should be handed sensitive cases, as they are not liable to be prejudiced? We all do know that there is immense corruption in the Lower Courts, if the Apex Court itself is tainted by doubt then how do we redress our legal issues? All in all, it is the prerogative of the CJI to distribute and assign cases to different benches. If we start to question his prerogative, then we are chopping our own hands and legs. Then why are we having these four Judges revolting now against CJI? Is it because of the Justice Loya’s case or is it about reopening of the 1984 Sikh riots case? But again, this will not give us any answers. After being elevated, some of these gentlemen might have followed a straight lone path. By their own admission in their letter to the CJI, published in the Media, the four Judges have admitted: (a) The CJI being ”First among Equals”; (b) the CJI is the Master of the Roster. If that be the case, one queries: (a) Since all are Equals, where does ”seniority” or ”juniority” come in? (b) The four Judges acknowledge that the CJI is the Master of the Roster, if that be so, why are these four Judges of SC raising the question against the authority of the CJI? There is much more than meets the eye. With Media reports, it appears that the whole issue is connected to Justice Loya’s case and main purpose is to create suspicion in public mind for the benefit of parties opposing Modi. If parties are not able to fight in a democratic way, create doubts and don’t allow the government to function. If all SC Judges are equal and competent and are of unquestionable integrity, then seniority doesn’t become important for allocating the cases. If the CJI, who is the Master of Roaster, has confidence and faith that justice will be done by respective Judges/Benches, as it is the prerogative of the CJI, no one should crib about it, if they don’t have anything contrary or vitiating to prove it.
By Deepak Kumar Rath