4 SC Judges: Missed The Woods For The Trees?

What exactly seems to be the reason for the 4 SC judges to express displeasure at their boss?

What exactly seems to be the reason for the 4 SC judges to express displeasure at their boss?
What exactly seems to be the reason for the 4 SC judges to express displeasure at their boss? (Photo courtesy Arvind Yadav/ HT Photo)

We just witnessed the unprecedented Press Conference addressed by the 4 senior-most judges of the Supreme Court (SC), mounting a scathing attack against the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dipak Misra. Subsequently, we also came to know of the meeting that Mr. D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) had with the senior-most of the 4 Judges, viz., Justice Chelameshwar.

SC and the other Courts have done precious little to address the issue of mounting cases in the Indian courts, with corruption to boot.

The electronic media is abuzz with interviews of retired judges, legal luminaries, politicians et al. All possible shades of opinion are being expressed. Some say the 4 judges were left with no option and so they were justified in holding their Presser. Some say, even if they had a case and had no option, Presser is surely wrong; there were several other alternatives. Some say, all those involved are honorable judges, and they will find a way out. Some say the Attorney General can help them resolve it. Some say, the Government, especially the Law Minister, should help them resolve it, while some others say the Government should stay away from it.

I’m not competent to comment on this, but I have a much larger point to make.

We run the nation by ‘the rule of law’. Quite often, the rule of law won’t render fair justice, but we’ve been told to accept whatever is rendered in the name of justice. A lowly Government worker stealing Rs.10,000 and a politician stealing Rs.50,000 crores (stealing such amounts is quite common in India) will be seen almost in the same light by the rule of law. The politician may ultimately be charged for theft of a ‘mere’ Rs.1 crore, and may not only escape with just 3.5 years in jail but will also get to keep the rest of the Rs.49,999 crores for his progenies for generations. And the worst part is, only 1 in 1000 such high profile politicians may be caught; the others will escape.

Our judicial system has convinced us that we have to accept this letter of law. That is, no matter what everyone may believe to be true, we have to prove without an iota of doubt in a court through a long-winding legal system that the accused is indeed guilty, and once we do, we have a reformative punishment system, not retributive, that will treat them with kid gloves. We are after all the world’s largest democracy and we have to be kind to everyone, esp criminals.

Regardless of whether the charges by the 4 judges against the CJI are true or not (which have not even been made, leave along proven), how are they justified in holding the Presser? They say, they have exhausted all options before calling for the Presser.

Even assuming the 4 judges have a strong cause, I have a few questions:

  1. The judges are appointed individually, not collectively. Can some judges get together opposing the CJI? Won’t it amount to unionisation? What will happen if this were replicated by judges in the HCs, and lower courts, exactly citing similar reasons?
  2. Is this the first time in the history of SC that the CJI does what the 4 judges allege? I’m sure this would have happened several times. If so, what is the enormous damage that would have befallen the SC (that has not happened in the past) if the 4 senior judges had not revolted? There have been allegations of even corruption of Himalayan proportions in the judiciary, and these judges have not been so much outraged by such corruption.
  3. Since it is an established procedure that the CJI would decide on certain matters like work allocation, isn’t it only fair that the judges accept the decisions of the CJI, right or wrong, even assuming he may not have followed proper procedures, because their own system doesn’t ensure the same? If they can question the CJI’s prerogative, where will it stop?
  4. Can any judge demand that certain specific cases be placed before them? If they accuse the CJI of selective allocation of work, can’t these judges be accused selective demand of work? Viewed in the backdrop of this Presser, how can one fault the CJI if he believed that he should not place certain specific sensitive cases before certain judges because these judges have no open mind in respect of the cases?
  5. How does Justice Chelameshwar justify his invitation to D. Raja of CPI to his home immediately after the Presser? Why should people believe in his impartiality after this incident?
  6. Many (including the author) believe that rejecting NJAC itself was a huge blunder by the judiciary; they just wanted it to be a cosy club of in-breeders. If they stand by the Collegium system, how do they justify the fact that a person like the current CJI could become the CJI through their own system, who they consider inappropriate? And how do they reckon the high level of corruption which they believe that exists in the judiciary, despite the Collegium system?
  7. If these judges say MoP not being finalised by the Government is the reason for delays, they may not be fully true; the Government has given statistics in the past on how the maximum number of appointments in history to SC and HC were done in 2017.
  8. SC and the other Courts have done precious little to address the issue of mounting cases in the Indian courts, with corruption to boot. They can’t think beyond setting up more Courts and appointing more judges, which cost a lot of money. The legal system is one of the least reformed since independence. Why can’t they come up with ways of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing system, at almost no additional cost, which is well within their hands? (Suggestions to accomplish this are in the links below.)
  1. How To Improve The Quality And Speed Of Justice Delivery System? A Retired Judge Provides SolutionNov 13,2017, PGurus.com
  2. 2 G Verdict: The Moment For Judicial ReformsDec 24,2017, PGurus.com
  3. How Justice Delivery System Can Be Improved 1000% At No Extra CostDec 15,2017, PGurus.com
  4. Judicial ReformsFeb 15,2017, PGurus.com

If these judges had risen in revolt demanding that the CJI do something to deliver quality justice or speedy justice, the entire nation would have stood behind them.

But the issues they have raised are micro and transient in nature (assuming they are right), compared to the issues the average Indian is concerned about viz quality and speed of justice delivery system. So, have these 4 judges failed to exercise a sense of proportion, and barked up the wrong tree?

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ganesan Subramanian

An Engineer-entrepreneur and Africa Business Consultant, Ganesan has many suggestions for the Government and sees the need for the Govt to tap the ideas of its people to perform to its potential.

18 COMMENTS

  1. We have 80 Christian 57 Islamic nation .no Hindu nation for billion hindus forces working to see hindus nonexistance. Wake up o foolish hindus your end is coming.

  2. A strife between Selective allocation of Cases and Demand of allocation of Selective Cases will always be present in current system due to its design. If assumption of current issue is true, the 4 great (?!) Judges should declare what procedure they are advocate for. As often said (climbed) as “in the interest of Democracy or People”.

  3. An excellent analysis. Question 4 is the key to the current Judicial turmoil.
    This entire drama is PART II of the ‘award wapsi’ melodrama enacted sometimes back.

    The 4 Judges have committed irreparable damage to our Judiciary. Their continuance any further is untenable & the CJI should withdraw all the cases from them. Since there is no constitutional provision to dismiss / suspend Judges, it is imperative they should be kept in SUSPENDED ANIMATION – like Justice Karnan

  4. People of this country will never know the truth ? for one why people do not talk full truth and always hide something ? till then we have to believe ” this world is mitthya ” and keep on d

  5. STRANGE, THAT 4 JUDGES CAME OUT TO TELL THE PEOPLE THAT CJI IS IGNORING THEM AND OTHER SENIOR
    JUDGES, WHILE ALLOTING IMPORTANT CASES. HE (CJI) IS ALLOTING IMPORTANT CASES TO JUNIOR JUDGES. IS THERE ARE CASES WHICH ARE LESS/MORE IMPORTANT. AS FAR AS WHAT I UNDERSTAND NO CASE IS LESS IMPORTANT WHEN IT GOES TO SUPREME COURT. THE PROBLEM AS IT APPEAR TO ME THAT THE SC JUDGES ARE DEVIDED BETWEEN LEFT AND RIGHT. EARLIER, THESE JUDGES WERE ENJOYING ATTENTION,. BUT NOW ALL ARE TREATED EQUALLY. ANOTHER SURPRISING ASPECT, THAT SHRI D RAJA (CPI) WENT TO MEET ONE OF THOSE JUDGES AFTER THE PC.

  6. I don’t agree with author questioning 4 judges move after having exhausted other choices to protest CJI behaviour to undermine certain internal rules in administration of courts.
    Somewhere one had to start,sooner the better. What if all allegations laid by Prashant Bhushan that present CJI is getting influenced by present Govt directly or indirectly and goes on alloting cases as per his whims to get desired outcomes of a powerful force behind him?
    If one wants to question/cast aspersions there is no end and one can even question everything under the sun.
    Ownership&Control to ensure overall good to society/nation in all walks of life v.important.
    More&more transparency, awareness, education in all walks of life can only bring lasting good to all. Hiding behind office of secrecy allows corruption,cronyism,nepotism to continue.

    • You ask what if all allegations laid by P Bhushan are not baseless. I (and many others, I am sure) will ask what if Chalameswar is a CPI / Cong hack. There are also some speculations that the Left / Cong Axis don’t want the CJI to sit in the Ram Mandir case and instead want Gogoi (whose father was a *drum roll* Cong bigwig, CM of Assam to boot). As you rightly point out, anyone can cast aspersions about anything. The solution is transparency and meritocracy – two things that the current ruling party cannot bring about because of the visceral hatred harbored by the opposition towards the PM.

      Compliments to the author for a good piece.

      • As I said asking questions is endless and only action towards overall good matters and sooner that positive action happens it is better.
        By the way I say this impression that hatred is all over the place amongst opposition towards PM itsrlf is fake and most paid folks project that view.
        Also do you think he is so pure that always blame falls on all men around him including officials,Jaitley etc?
        For a man who could monitor a young architect girl 24×7 using state forces can’t monitor a national important case like 2G?(I by the way don’t believe in cock&bull stories like sisubala,Ramayana, Mahabharatha conspiracy stuff that is getting propoganda to give a shield around him as excuse)
        For the buck stops with PM for all lapses by CBI,ED,AG etc and everyone in govt machinery including FM is a cog in wheel.

        • Buddy, i felt like commenting on your reply but decided against it because i am convinced beyond doubt that you are biased.. May God help you.

      • You’re asking the right question.

        I don’t argue that Prashanth Bhushan is wrong; he could very well be right, or wrong. None of us will perhaps never know. I’m not on the point of whether the argument of the 4 judges is right or wrong; I’m only on whether they chose the right way to address it.

        That’s why I say, on issues where we can never know the truth, our justice system says we should go by the letter of the law, exactly how our legal system works.

        As per our legal system, the CJI is the final authority on allocation of work. Exactly as you say, “If one wants to question/ cast aspersions, there is no end…”. A democracy will work only as well as the people who hold key positions work. We can’t take a position and see things only from that perspective, because there will always be some others who take a different position and claim the system doesn’t work. The system, which ultimately consists of people, should be allowed to work, exactly as we have designed it. And if it fails, the redressal should also be exactly as we have designed. The Govt and judicial system can correct it when it goes wrong, exactly as per our laws, systems and procedures.

        The more checks and balances we build into a system, the more inefficient it will become, with no guarantee that the outcome will be significantly superior. Already our democracy is very inefficient. GOMs and EGOMs of UPA tried to do just that and failed.

        Let’s say, we want work allocation also to be done by a Collegium of 5 senior-most judges; do you know how much of their productive time will be lost? LEt’s not forget that the very same Justice Gogoi will one day be the CJI and he will do the work allocation. Is he going to consult everyone and do it? That’s not how the system is designed.

        At some stage, we should let the system work.

        Please see things from the larger perspective of improving the quality and timeliness of justice delivery system; the issues raised by these 4 judges are relatively insignificant. I think they should focus on the larger issues, rather than debate about tweedledom and tweedledee.

  7. Excellent article. Such articles keep our hope alive that there is no dearth of brilliant minds to help improve this country. Thank you Ganesh.

  8. The article above expresses anguish of a bystander but then who can improve judiciary? NJAC is a trojan horse and if allowed, will start the process once again of crooks interfering in who gets appointed as judges.At the moment there is no certain way how judges behaviour/dubious judgements can be addressed especially those judgements which reeks of skulduggery/crookedness.There are plenty of examples starting JJ HC order and even 2G present judgement if overturned will amount to shady judgement.Someone needs to be punished severely for skulduggery but then who will be that authority?Till we have answers how to scrutinise the high and mighty,better to hold on to what we have.

    • 1. The judiciary can correct it, but it’s so divided. Also, I’m not sure if anyone in judiciary (whether the CJI or the rebel 4, or any others) believes they can or want to correct things.
      2. The Govt can bring in legislation and corect, but it’s afraid it may be called all kinds of names by the liberal brigade. It doesn’t perhaps want to open a new front.
      3. Only we, the people, should.

  9. Judiciary has a background of dubious judgements especially 2G JJ HC variety but then crooks will have a field day in darkening reputation of all judges so that their crooked acts are over looked.Compared to our politicians,judiciary is still honest and it is duty of every citizen to back them more than the clowns in media and crooks masquerading as politicians.Don’t listen to the crooks and vested interests.If judiciary too becomes like our swindlers masquerading as politicians,even GOD cannot save this country.

  10. What if a judge when getting appointed i.e at the time of individual appointment either via existing collegium system (which one late bar president mentions as failure in total) or even via a refined system(with 50-50% control from executive+judiciary) is squeaky clean or atleast appears so but later gets blackmailed by misuse of caged parrots,agencies of ruling Govt with some substance of truth ?
    Doesn’t this opinionated author think it would be more damaging so if above scenario happens to CJI who masters roster etc?

  11. Very good article with a view stressing the cause of the division is not adhering to ‘systems & procedure’ but not corruption.The public wants corruption free justice in condiderably shorter time and don’t know how to bell the cat.

  12. justice is too precious to be left to the judges alone in congressized India where most institutions have been corrupted since aug 15, 1947.
    A very nice article. We need more of it more often across our media world. Thank you.

  13. I suggest mr. Anna Hazare do an indefinite fast at the gates of the Supreme Court backed by 10 million people behind him, and demand that the Indian judiciary present a verifiable plan to make it among the top 5 of the world within 3 years.
    A very nice article Ganesh ji. We need many more like this showing up often enough in all popular media. Justice is too precious to be left to the judges alone.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here