With the Parliament aiming to give the salaries of the judges a hike, the Parliamentarians from all hues have seemed to develop an understanding with the Minister for Law and Justice, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad’s antagonism for the Judiciary altogether.
In a piece on this portal by this author, the importance of the judiciary, and the need to keep it free from the political discourse, the author left out certain issues that remain at the centre of the discussion.
Today, the political forces in the country are not stable. The law reflects the ideas of the law-makers, while the High Courts and the Supreme Courts are the sole guardians of the Constitution. There have been occasions when the National Parties, like the Congress, BJP, CPM, and other regional parties have used their weight to meddle with the judiciary.
The most unforgettable incident remains the appointment of Justice AN Ray by Indira Gandhi during her emergency years, and the abuse committed by the judiciary that became inimical to the political democracy of the nation and individual rights.
Today’s discourse is about the power of the ruling regime to dictate the judicial conscious, more than ever. The judicial discourse, if at all goes against the ruling it gives the detractors and the opposition a saga to harp upon. The incident that marks this phenomena is the Right to Privacy decision.
The Supreme Court in its bid to relieve the Muslim women also passed a decision against the practice of talaq-e-biddat which has relegated the conflagration to the next levels. This made the Law Minister remark about the judiciary remaining in its limits.
The discourse has another angle which is the appointment of judges in the Constitutional Courts across the country. The Memorandum of Procedure has not been finalised yet, while the Parliamentarians, in unanimity have tried to stand together against the collegium system .
The Supreme Court has also been targeted to make the judiciary a select preserve of the few, ‘business judiciary’, which is a direct insult of the judiciary by a Parliamentarian. This is the view of a CPM member of Parliament, and it is based on the fact that certain senior advocates charge a good amount of fees. While the fees and the need are left to the parties concerned, the whole story must be described based on the fact that how Advocates, not only in the High Courts, but also the Supreme Court serve their clients. The clients who are unable to pay the fees, are given free legal aid, and are represented by the same senior advocates, while there are other advocates too, who represent their clients for no fee. The advocates also provide lodging facilities to their clients.
The Judiciary selects only those lawyers, who have the mantle of going into the depth of the law, and they don’t spend time like most of the lawyers trying to make a debut in politics. The lawmakers from every background have not been very effective in drafting laws of high pedigree.
The law makers must realise that the judiciary is there to aid the Parliament in keeping this State apparatus in function. The faith of the masses rests with the Judiciary, which has kept its dignity in many trying situations, which must not be abused.
The Constitution of India, is supreme, and the judiciary as well as the parliament are subordinate to it, while ensuring separation of powers.
Thus the lawmakers while giving a hike to the wallets of the judges must not try to assert their supremacy if they have the power to account for the taxpayer’s money.