Need to Insulate Our Judiciary From Political Influence

Is the judiciary in a state of turmoil? - Sakshi Post

Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

Is the judiciary in a state of turmoil? One is not sure about the reasons behind this, but one does get the distinct feeling that all is not well with the judiciary in this country. Vice-President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, M. Venkaiah Naidu, rejected the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Dipak Misra served by the Congress and seven other political parties.He may have taken this decision to protect the sanctity and integrity of the judiciary and to safeguard its interests, as also to shield the highest judicial officer of the country from impeachment. The Chairman of the Upper House may have had in mind the potential damage it could cause to the institution itself.

While the Congress and other parties accused the NDA government of controlling the judiciary, Arun Jaitley wagged a finger at them saying they were trying to blackmail the judiciary. Both parties are right to some extent. If one were to factor into this the press meet of four Supreme Court judges some time ago airing their differences with the CJI, the fact emerges that all is not well with the judiciary.

Justice Easwariah's comments recently point to the influence politicians wield upon the judges. He also referred to a Supreme Court judge in the context of Chandrababu Naidu and called for an inquiry on the SC judge. Such allegations are not normally aired in public, but if a retired judge goes public with his views, how does one cast them aside? In the past, Justice B.S. Swamy had also made some strong accusations, elaborating on how deeprooted the caste system was, in the judiciary.

The threats of politicisation, caste and bias can be very harmful to the independent functioning of the judiciary. The Congress governments of earlier years faced the same charges which the Modi governement is facing today. ?Sonia Gandhi ran the show from behind the scenes and sent her opponents to jail, it was widely believed. It was said that anybody who went against her, met this fate. In the past, the Madhya Pradesh High Court held that an inquiry should be ordered based on a letter! At the same time, another high court ordered a CBI probe. It reflects poorly on the judiciary when the common man gets the impression that one public figure is being tormented by cases and is being persecuted, while another leader is being shielded by the courts. If courts are objective and have an unbiased, uniform view of things, there would no problems and no one would fault them. After Jayalalithaa’s death in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry into her assets and this led to some criticism at that time. No one would ever defend corruption, but courts should be seen as functioning through time-bound procedures and should be free from any criticism of discrimination.

Justice Eswaraiah's allegations point to the fact that the procedure adopted for appointment of judges is flawed. Consider this: the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister writes to the Union minister against the appointment of some lawyers as judges. The IB conducts an inquiry and overrules the chief minister's objections. This is indeed a serious matter. A lawyer once referred to a certain chief justice and said that as long as he was there, a certain politician would be safe and no verdict would be delivered against him. I am not revealing the names here, as it is against the norms of propriety to do so.

All of us know how difficult it is to get into the civil services. If the appointment of judges becomes a political matter, it does not augur well for our judiciary. It is now that the leadership of the nation should take a call on initiating urgent measures to overhaul the entire system. Such critical decisions should be taken in the interest of society, transcending narrow political and selfish interests. Will we continue to adapt to the existing system or will a change come about? That is the big question.

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