By Vijay Darda | 29-08-2016
‘Ram Rajya’ is not just an ideal concept. It was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and it was the duty of each one of us to fulfil that dream. But this dream has not been fulfilled in the last seven decades after independence and now that dream is getting even more distant. Is it becoming an impossibility? This is the interpretation of the observation of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Tirath Singh Thakur. Nothing seems to be in order in the country today and, therefore, a petition was moved before the court to seek its intervention in setting the house in order and restoring law and order in the country. When the Chief Justice himself counter-questioned the petitioner: “Do you think that if we issue an order everything will be in order, and if we pass an order against corruption, do you think that it will be eliminated?” When such counter question is asked by the apex court, it just does not express the helplessness of the person occupying the highest seat of judiciary but expresses the helplessness of the entire judicial system. Then this subject is not limited to that domain only.
It is worth mentioning here that during the hearing in the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on the plea against corruption in a corporation in the state, Justice Arun Chaudhary who was hearing the plea got so enraged with the instances of corruption that he thundered: “Unless corruption is rooted out in the state, not a single rupee should be paid by the people to the government by way of tax.” The statement by the judge also expressed his helplessness and impatience against corruption. Why such helplessness is being generated? Dahi Handi festival is celebrated every year with much pomp and gaiety in Maharashtra. Accidents happen and many children suffer injuries and sometime many of them become disabled for life. To avoid accidents and protect minor children, the Supreme Court forbade children below 18 years of age from participating in the formation of human pyramids to break the Dahi Handi. Besides the court also restricted the height of the Dahi Handi at 20 ft and any increase in the height was to constitute contempt of court. But almost all the political parties who organise the Dahi Handi celebrations, publicly flouted the height and age restrictions which the court had imposed in the interests of the society. Does this open defiance of court order not engender the feeling of helplessness in the judicial system?
Today every common man is experiencing the feeling of helplessness. He is feeling restless. He feels that there are just two ways of redemption – one of which is the media and another judiciary. The media can only help publicise the sufferings but the courts can redress them. There is reason why people believe so. As a matter of fact under the democratic set-up, the concept of welfare state has been accepted and it is expected that the government should understand the sorrows and sufferings of the common people and alleviate them. It is the responsibility of the government of the day to redress the grievances of the common people. If the government is able to redress them from time to time, the people will neither turn to the media nor will they feel the need to knock the doors of the court. But that does not happen.
Just take an instance of the principle – man woman equality which is enshrined in our Constitution. It is the primary responsibility of the state government to stop the violation of this fundamental principle of equality to access the place of worship whether it is Shani Shingnapur or Haji Ali Dargah. But the government does not discharge its obligation and, therefore, the people are left with no alternative but to turn to the court for redressal. But what happens there? The basis on which the verdict in case of Shani Shingnapur or Haji Ali is announced, the same provisions are not used while delivering the verdict in case of Sabarimala and the case goes to the Supreme Court. Here too the responsibility is that of the government.
It is but natural that the people should turn to the judiciary when the elected governments evade their responsibility. It gives rise to new issue that of judicial activism. It means that the people turn to the judiciary when the governments prove to be incompetent and unsuccessful and now even the courts are saying that they are helpless! Who is responsible for creating this feeling of helplessness? It is not just the government or the executive? Actually, there should be no controversy relating to the three main limbs of democracy. There should be no dispute regarding the superiority or inferiority among them. The Constitution writers never intended to give one priority over the other. The Parliament is the representative body of 125 crore people and hence the decisions taken there should be accepted by one and all and conventionally they are respected. However, recently it is suspected that this convention seems to have been dented deliberately by the court.
The appointment of the judges in the apex court is the case in point. There is universal anonymity in the political system that the judiciary should not appoint the judges and that the government should have a say in their appointment and, therefore, the government amended the Constitution through Parliament to set up National Judicial Appointments Commission. The judiciary has been given a preferential treatment in the formulation of the commission. But the constitution bench of the Supreme Court has ruled out the constitutional amendment as illegal and continued the erstwhile collegium system. This has sown the seeds of conflict between judiciary and Parliament and the executive. As a result the appointment of judges has been cold-storaged.
Not just this the chief justice of the Supreme Court has openly expressed his displeasure about even the prime minister! On the one hand the judiciary expresses helplessness and on the other hand it adopts aggressive posture. While the government does not exercise its constitutional powers, it shoves it on to the judiciary. The court judgments that go in the interests of the society are trampled upon and the judiciary remains a mute spectator. Under the circumstances, how can ‘Ram Rajya’ materialise?
Before I conclude…
If justice is not secured in the lower court, one can go to the higher court and thus reach the highest court in quest of justice. But what if justice is not secured even in the apex court. Why not set up a specific board of the former justices of the Supreme Court? Judiciary is also like a service organisation and every service organization has an apex institution where one can go to seek justice or for redressal of grievances.