JUDICIARY – THE ROT WITHIN
The modern democratic state stands on four pillars: the legislature that makes laws and updates them with amendments; the executive elected that governs according to the laws; the judiciary that oversees laws are observed by the government and the people and the fourth estate that is the media disseminating news and presenting views to enhance the awareness of the people so that all other pillars fairly and righteously share the burden of their duties to support the state.
Of all these pillars of the state, people have more faith in the judiciary because that is where they can go to get justice when they are wronged by the state or by their compatriots.
However, the judges are human and liable to human frailties. There could be errors of judgment and also incidents of corruption, nepotism and favouritism do creep into judgments occasionally. To remedy this menace, the citizen is provided with the right to appeal from low courts to high courts and ultimately to the Supreme Court.
What happens when the Supreme Court itself shows the weaknesses of the lower courts, and becomes suspect and loses the position of impartial dispenser of justice? The seniormost judges, junior only to the Chief Justice of India , recently held a press conference and presented their position before the public. Justice Chelameswar, representing Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan Lokur, said: “We tried to collectively persuade the Chief Justice that certain things are not in order and therefore you should take remedial measures. Unfortunately our efforts failed. Unless the institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”
Chief Justice KM Joseph who was recommended by the collegium of the Supreme Court, but his name was with held by the government on flimsy grounds. The real reason was he was being punished for his ruling in 2016 to quash the imposition of President’s rule in the state and restore the Congress rule. Of course the government had to accept his elevation when the collegium recommended his case a second time. Still the government placed his name last in seniority despite his name was recommended earlier and some brother judges expressed their anguish and shock at the injustice done to Justice Joseph.
If the situation in the apex court of the country is such, the lower courts function under the weight of lakhs of cases and where adjournment rather than settlement, is the order of the day, could be imagined. It is high time the Aegean stables of judiciary are cleaned and the trust of the people could be restored.