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An Appeal From An Anguished Citizen: Shake Your Blind Faith And Listen To The 4 Judges

Posted by Saurabh Sharma in Politics, Society, Staff Picks
January 15, 2018

Dear Public,

I just wish to say that the song “Ye jo public hai sab jaanti hai”, is only a song and not reality. And we should no longer romanticize this song and take pride in thinking that we know the unknowable. There is umpteen number of urgent and pressing issues which aren’t dealt with, and the public knows nothing of it. There are certain powers which exist and these are used very deftly and exercised at the ‘right-time’, and the public knows nothing of them. There are cases and the repercussions, the public knows nothing of them.

I don’t see why we should sing this song anymore. Why do we have to pretend that we didn’t see things which we saw? Why do we have to ignore the shrieks of the judges who were pleading in front of the public?

Was it a gimmick? Was there any agenda behind it? What propelled them to be so outrageous about an ‘internal matter’?

You may have these questions, and I have a few questions for you, my fellow citizens. And I write this with anguish and a hope, to you, my public. My people. The people with whom I share this space, with whom I eat and breathe, with whom I share the sky as a shelter. It is with you, my people, that I disagree today if I have the choice.

Well, I have one and I will exercise it. Allow me to raise some questions. You may choose to ignore them, but hear me out first.

Many people are contesting the act of the four senior judges who took to publicly addressing the functional and operational inefficiencies of the apex court. These people are finding it hard to see the rationale for this decision, and are questioning the intent behind the move. I hope to address these things in the following piece. I should’ve stopped with the previous article of mine, which covered my opinion on the matter in question. But after the overwhelming and almost-on-the-verge-of-disgusting responses which I can see everywhere, I am compelled to write this.

Talking about the rationale, I guess we are in the right mind to understand and respect this observation by one of the greatest minds and scientists of all times, Albert Einstein, who said, “Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” And I’m convinced that, with the contemporary situation of India, we need to be mindful of our response and reaction to everything that’s happening. And we’re just distancing ourselves from the truth by being ignorant, and by following people blindly.

What is an authority? And why shouldn’t it be questioned?

We’re brought up with this thought that you shouldn’t question your elders, in particular, your father. He’s earning the bread and butter after all. Applying the same principle here, we’re taught not to question the government. On the same lines, we have no right to question PM Modi or as a matter of fact any other person assuming a prestigious position. And with the eventful Friday in the question, we can assume that we’ve no right to condemn, expose or question the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India.

And I just fail to understand this rationale. I am completely at a loss for words when it comes to describing the political nature of this thought in a democracy, supposedly the largest in the world. Are we really going to brag about this title with these petty thoughts coupled with an almost baseless, yet passionate, defence?

And I’m actually stunned by the absolute ignorance of the so-called learned, educated and opinionated individuals who are assuming a high ground and declaring, like any other fascist, that this is ‘condemn-able’.

I have a few questions for them. What do they know about ‘democracy’? What is the role of the judiciary in a democracy? And finally, what do you think the senior judges (or for that matter any individual employed to serve the nation in any capacity) should do if they are aware that the higher authority is misusing the rights?

Well, I guess we, as non-lawyers, should ponder upon this opening statement of a press release by the people who are learned in this field, and practice this morning till evening and beyond; the opening statement of the press release by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), “The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) salutes the four senior judges of the Supreme Court for taking the extraordinary step of publicly apprising the people of this country about the distressing state of affairs in the Supreme Court. The Judges have formally informed citizens of a dangerous pattern which was becoming visible – of the Chief Justice abusing his power as the master of roster in selectively assigning important and politically sensitive cases to particular benches of junior judges of his choice, in an arbitrary manner, without any rational basis.” 

And I don’t think this observation from the same press release needs further elaboration: “The subversion of justice in this manner is particularly dangerous when there is a government in place which is trampling on peoples’ fundamental rights and constitutional values.” A well-enunciated remark by people who work in and out of the system.

The point I’m making is – why are people afraid of these judges openly speaking about a flaw in the system? Why? I observed that many amongst us are floating a screenshot of the Restatement of Values of Judicial Life (1999) and in particular emphasizing these clause(s), “A judge shall not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination,” and “A judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves. He shall not give interviews to the media.” 

The codes of conduct are to be followed, but I say, codes are for all to follow. No-one – and no-one means no one – has the ‘right to not follow’ codes of conduct then, not even the master of rosters, the CJI. He chooses to ignore the code of conduct and award the benches out of preferences and influence. This shall not be entertained. And, I do not think that these learned judges didn’t consider other option(s). I can say with conviction that they must have lost every hope which they had of being ‘heard’ by the supremo.

Well, I’m reminded of Caesar’s wife. Condemning her and questioning her meant an act of blasphemy against Caesar. And Caesar, our CJ, in this case, must never be questioned. I just committed blasphemy, I guess.

Before your thoughts wander, these clause(s) appear in the middle section of the screenshot highlighted in yellow (to direct you to the main-points which they want to convey) and circulated through instruments of mass media.

Did anyone care to read the very first point? It was this,“The behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must affirm the people’s faith in the impartiality if the judiciary.” I don’t think that I need to reiterate the duty of a person who is bestowed with responsibilities and is held accountable to the people of India.

We need to be wary of the degree of collateral damage which can happen if we choose to ignore the matter in question. We need to be mindful of what manner of disaster it would be, if we let the judiciary function the way it is doing now.

And what does the public know? “Kya sach me hum kuch jaante hain? Ya jaan-na nahi chahte? (Do we really know anything? Or, do we want to know?)”

By coming out publicly, the four judges did not become less democratic. They are the ones who are pleading for the ideals of democracy to be upheld. And if they’re condemned about it, called names, abused in the public or insulted, I cannot help but think of this quote by Arundhati Roy about dissent, “What’s dissent without a few good insults?”

By insulting and condemning them we’re insulting our democracy and rebuking the very ideals of democracy. I wish, my fellow janta wouldn’t insult itself, as a democracy, by blindly following someone.

With love, respect and concern,

Saurabh Sharma