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The dirty picture

The dirty picture
For some time now, higher(est) judiciary in India has been groping for a toehold to tide over unsavoury controversies it has found itself involved in. Back to back accusations have been flung at its face that significantly mars its holy cow image.

The issue of former solicitor general Gopal Subramnium’s name being rejected by the Centre for elevation as a Supreme Court judge and later top lawyer Uday U Lalit replacing him exposed the breach in the contours of ‘separation of power’ provision underlined in the constitution. It exemplified how the government of the day can prevail upon judicial appointments at the apex court.

That followed by former SC judge and press council of India chairman Markandey Katju’s allegations that three former chief justices of India backed the ‘corrupt’ Madras high court judge under pressure from the UPA government. On 4 August, just when it looked that the media was beginning to turn focus on other issues, a report in a leading daily that a Madhya Pradesh high court judge allegedly asked an additional district judge of Gwalior – a woman - to ‘perform dance on an item song’ at a function at his home and influenced her transfer to a remote location when she didn’t succumb to his sexual advances came as a shocker.

While only a fair probe will establish the truth in the case, within judiciary or outside it, such acts denote impropriety at its worst. But the fact that such allegations of moral impropriety are being made against an institution that not just have the constitutional authority to punish the law-breakers but also to keep a check on the erring law-makers is disturbing. It is not in the recent past that judiciary’s conduct has come under the mortal scanner.

For that matter a young lawyer earlier this year accused former SC judge Swatenter Kumar of sexual harassment and last year a law intern labeled similar against another apex court judge A K Ganguly.  In both the cases, the charges have not been established yet. Indian judiciary’s hall of shame is replete with several other instances.  When A M Ahmadi was chief justice of India between October 1994-March 1997, his daughter, a practising lawyer in SC, it was alleged received special favors from some judges. For extravagant expenditure at his residence and audit report objections to it while being the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court earlier, then SC judge justice V Ramaswami was the first judge in independent India’s history to face impeachment proceedings in 1993.

In 2010, impeachment proceedings were initiated against then chief justice of the Sikkim HC, PD Dinakaran for holding unexplained assets and land at his hometown Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu. In 2011, Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta HC faced impeachment proceedings for misappropriating public funds to the tune of Rs 32 lakhs. In 2008, Delhi court framed charges against its own former former Delhi High Court judge Shamit Mukherjee in a DDA land scam case. Nirmal Yadav, a former Punjab and Haryana HC judge was relieved from judicial services in the 2008 cash-at door scandal.

If not lost, the sacrosanct nature of the Indian judiciary has arguably hit the lowest ebb. The Indian judiciary is in disarray and that’s worrying.

How else do we see the dirty picture that has emerged out of such an accusation as that against the MP judge?

By arrangement with Governance Now
 
Deevakar Anand

Deevakar Anand

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