“Don’t saying so. From open letter of Justice
“Don’t want wise men saying 20 years from now that we sold our souls,” says Justice Jasti Chelameshwar in the historical press conference on 12 Jan 2018. He said that democracy is in danger and it must be saved. What made him say so? What kind of crisis our judiciary is going through?On January 12, the four top judges had said that the Supreme Court owed a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Joseph and Lokur said they were speaking out now so that “democracy survives”, as their attempts to get the chief justice of India to address a judicial crisis had gone unanswered. The judges were referring to Misra’s allocation of cases in the Supreme Court. But maybe the history has something more to say that why wise men won’t be able to restrain themselves from saying so. From open letter of Justice CS Karnan, to suicide note of Kalikho Pul, we have very much to know and discuss about to deal with the question of judicial crisis. From issuing a notice for contempt to a former Judge of the Apex Court, to the holding in contempt of a sitting Judge of a High Court, we have seen it all. The number of allegations of impropriety amongst judges is at its peak. The friction within the Collegium in respect of appointment of judges has been no secret. Two sitting Judges have raised a revolt on the utter lack of transparency in functioning of the Collegium despite the fact that the Apex Court struck down the NJAC and upheld the Collegium System. Transfer and resignation of Justice Jayant Patel and mood of Supreme Court on investigation of Justice Loya’s death further deepens the concern.In this long list of crisis contempt proceeding against Justice C.S. Karnan, suicide note of Ex-CM of Arunachal Pradesh Kalikho pul and issue of Judges Appointment occupies very unique space.Justice Karnan IssueIn June 2017, the court stripped a senior sitting high court judge of his judicial powers and sent him to prison after he was convicted of contempt after sending a letter to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in which he urged action against them the judges. Justice CS Karnan was the first sitting high court judge in India to face a jail term.In February, the Supreme Court issued a contempt of court notice against him for allegedly degrading the judicial institution. A seven-judge Bench, led by then Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, heard then Attorney-General Mukul Rohtagi, who said that Justice Karnan should face contempt proceedings for his “scurrilous” letters against sitting and retired judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court. In its judgment, the Bench stated that “the actions of Shri Justice C.S. Karnan constituted the grossest and gravest action of contempt of court. He is therefore liable to be punished for his unsavoury actions and behaviour.” He was convicted of contempt of court by the country’s highest Court of Justice for writing an open letter to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in which he urged action against the judges who in result send him to jail and even ordered his psychiatry test.Kalikho Pul IssueKalikho Pul was CM of Arunachal Pradesh who took his own life after his government was voted out and the same was decided against Pul by Supreme Court. In his sixty page suicide note he made allegation on some senior Judges asking for huge amount of money, investigation against whom never took place.Collegium and NJAC IssueAfter the dissenting opinion in NJAC case against collegium system Justice Chelameshwar once opted out of the collegium meeting citing his views on the working of collegium that everything is not well here. Collegium System, since the time it has been adopted, is accused of doing favouritism to certain families and creating a judicial clan. In that very case, where NJAC was held unconstitutional, Chelameshwar opined that neither the NJAC nor the collegium is the way out. NJAC – National Judicial Appointment commission was a constitutional setup under which Modi government wanted to take the appointment of judges under the control of the government. It was direct invasion in the freedom of the working of judicial system. If we talk about the accountability of the judiciary we must not forget about the independent functioning of the justice system.Accountability and Independence of JudiciaryFirst it was pre emergency era when judiciary came in direct control of the Indian government where three senior judges had to resign under conflict with the government then in emergency period Justice H.R. Khanna resigned being the custodian of human rights . That was the murder of judiciary in Indira’s regime and again many attempts has been made to assassinate its independence by way political transfer of judges or maybe by NJAC.Modi government has tried it all to rien in the judicial appointments. It is the nature of the current govenrment to curb the left out democratice space be it through the way of GST (limiting states power equal to municipal corporation on tax issues) or declaring dissent as anti-national. NJAC was the same move by controlling everything to let it work for few rich. The govenment through flop Make in India plan and flawfull Bullet project has already proved its class nature. Recent report of accumlation of 73% of India’s wealth in top 1% people has cleared all doubts. In all this if we made judiciary accountable curbing its independence it will again the poor and middle class who had suffer.Again looking at the sentencing of a sitting Dalit High Court Judge and suicide note of EX-CM over the question of judicail corruption raises the concern of its accountability. From all this it is becoming vibrant that present political system has failed to provide both the accountability and independence of judiciary. But what is way out is still a question.Long lists of allegation are there to discuss about, which must be discussed right now, else no judge in future will dare to address the nation again. Once upon a time Justice H.R. Khanna lone gave the dissenting opinion in infamous ADM Jabalpur case and we only hear his brave stories nothing diverse, which must not happen again. People’s court, where four judges petitioned on 12 Jan, have to decide soon, in fact we are already late.