INDIAN JUDICIARY UNDER SEIZE…
(Disclaimer: I am writing this blog strictly on the basis of my experience in Central and State Intelligence Agencies. I have no malice either for Judiciary or for Government)
Failing Indian democracy is on dialysis because of its renal failure. It is just a matter of time when this renal failure leads to an imminent multi-organ failure. Because of malicious polity and political environment, India has never ever been out of a crisis situation. Currently it is passing through yet another crisis of sorts which, though, does not appear to be as grave as ongoing cold war with China one hand and low intensity warfare with Pakistan on the other. Internally; deteriorating law and order situation, corruption, failed domestic, economic and foreign policies etc have but added to the pace of overall rot which is ‘violently’ eating into the very fabric of Indian democracy.
‘Institutional crisis’ between three pillars of Indian ‘democracy’ is becoming ominous. Any independent democratic sovereign state stands on three pillars; Executive, Legislative and Judicial. A precarious balance has to be maintained by this three legged leviathan failing which this monster will fall flat on ground. Without going into nitty-gritty of political philosophy, in Indian context the unblemished repute of all these three pillars of democracy has suffered to varying extent. Good name of legislative wings both in Centre and in States is tarnished beyond redemption because of general criminalisation of Indian politics. They have become houses 'less of name and more of shame'. Lesser said of executive, the better. It has become thoroughly corrupt and inefficient; protected and shielded by equally, if not more corrupt politicians whose feet most of officialdom is ready to lick bending backwards. Being a proud yoga activist, I am using this tongue twisting phrase otherwise my American friends have a simple word for it, 'Butt Licking'.
Coming to Judiciary, the third leg, one has to be as cautious as one can be. This organ of state power also consists of humans, some of whom radiate positivity and some reflect negativity. A human is basically a human and any reflection on human nature should not be taken as an ‘institutional onslaught’. This organ of state power generally remains hidden from public gaze, thriving behind the cloak of its brahmastra; doctrine of 'Contempt of Court'. This weapon has often been mis-utilised both in and out of the court rooms, in certain cases even on the roads. This mis-utilisation has only brought disrepute and alienation from a section of society in general. Whether people talk in hushed voices or openly, damage is done in both cases. Notwithstanding the fact that for some time, media has been bringing misadventure of some of its members, particularly at lower levels, to public view but the fact remains that it still remains the most protected organ of state power. It is this single reason which makes it most vulnerable as well. Executive leg of democracy, the ‘Government’, consisting of politicians coming from legislatures in cahoots with so-called ‘public servants’, invariably keeps trying to devise ways and means to ‘control and manage’ the Judiciary which in turn struggles to maintain its ‘independence’. This conflict becomes a tug of war because the government needs ‘judicial support’ for its (right or wrong) policies, programs and decisions. It does not want them to be struck down, even rightly, when aggrieved approach the courts of law.
Elaborating upon this ‘tug of war’; Judiciary tries to maintain its ‘independence’ by way of judicial pronouncements, made either in court rooms or outside in public forums, like ones made by the current CJI on the issue of dragging of feet by Central Government in clearing judicial appointments, apparent cohesiveness of judicial fraternity, in-house deliberations within collegiums and to top it all the ‘Brahamstra’ of ‘Contempt of Court’. The recent controversy about Government sitting on appointments (some names have reportedly been cleared today) has also given rise to allegations that often judiciary tries to favour their own ‘families and confidants’.
Ways of the Government are more complex and treacherous. A civil servant knows Government often ‘arm twists’ lower judiciary, both directly as also through its district level officials. In political philosophy it is called the power of ‘patronage and punishment’. Sometimes it can be managed to this extent, but State and Central Governments encounter serious problems when it comes to Higher Judiciary. Here ominous weapons include use of ‘emissaries’, phone tapping and then in rare cases even straight blackmailing. I have already said that I do not have any malice but am referring to it all just in a bid to clean the waters. This nasty work is generally done through the intelligence wings. Each of the State and Central Intelligence and Investigative Agencies has had their own phone tapping units. Often they also have their own ‘unapproved’ setups as well which are used for absolutely clandestine purposes. They are called top secret NGO units or given appropriate code names. They work directly under the head of the unit or his duly authorised senior official. Based on inputs from such NGO or ‘X’ branches; ‘further necessary action is taken’ under the guidance of political leadership. Required money comes from the unaccounted ‘secret service funds’.
Coming to ‘long term management techniques’; Judges of higher judiciary are either from judicial services or from amongst practising lawyers of repute. State Governments often try, successfully or otherwise, to get their ‘own’ men short listed at the state level. In case of same party rule in Centre and in State, ‘directions’ also emanate from Centre. Intelligence agencies like Intelligence Bureau and investigative agencies like C.B.I. often play a vital role not only in ‘vetting’ the names but also by way of getting ‘commitments’. As a former official of the Intelligence Bureau, I remember how a certain ‘Law Minister’ used to ‘communicate’ through senior field intelligence officials and only ‘cleared’ names used to be approved. Even after the clearance of names, he ‘successfully dealt’ with ‘errant’ judges grossly mis-utilising such of the Central Agencies.
Undoubtedly independence of Judiciary is the very basic tenet for the success of democracy, but is also about time that the Judiciary also brings about more transparency and rare use of its ‘brahamastra’ of Contempt of Court. A lot many people have since started talking about corruption by a few in the judicial fraternity. The fraternity itself has to rise to the occasion and deal with such deviants. All these steps will not only install the judiciary at a still higher pedestal but will garner more respect from amongst people to ensure its independence. It need not play the gallery but it certainly needs to further strengthen its bonds with the masses. It can take a leaf from the righteous stand taken by the current CJI who is said to be stalling the bid of some in power to safforonise the Judiciary.