While the debate on eradication of corruption goes on it omits one important aspect i.e. the corruption for money is not the only kind of corruption. There are many other forms of corruptions. Actually to be corrupt is to be biased in favour of somebody who could be a person or even class of persons. While favouring somebody for money is apparently taken as corrupt, favouring a class of persons is easily passed as irregular. In fact the expression ‘subjective bias’ has been rendered completely non-existent. If a judge is suffering from a subjective bias, litigant should have an opportunity to take the case away from such judge on the ground of subjective bias but in practice it is never done. The lawyers in fact are afraid to mention it so as not to invite the wrath of the concerned judge and rather try to exploit this bias if possible. There are many examples. A long time ago a media nick named a judge as ‘Green Judge’ which actually meant that he was favouring environmental causes. It was taken as a compliment but in my view it was reflective of subjective bias. See the following comment:
He broke new legal ground in environmental law (earning the sobriquet ‘green’ judge) and gave a fresh dimension to human rights litigation while dealing with alleged police atrocities in Punjab (for which his detractors termed him ‘Khalistani‘ judge). Post-retirement, his crusading zeal has not dimmed and he is teeming with ideas for judicial reform.(via http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?202888)
Similarly another article talks about the bias of another judge in favour of politicians:
One reason, perhaps, why the judge of the special CBI court makes it a point to stress that the rule of law “should be applied equally to everyone”. In the hawala case, he pulled up the CBI for following “a policy of pick and choose in arresting one set of accused and not arresting the other set of accused. Said he: “It is not that our country has two sets of law, one for highly-placed public servants and the other for ordinary citizens”.
Ironically, he has not been able to practice this avowed commitment to uniformity in applying the law, say lawyers at Delhi’s Tis Hazari district courts. They point out that while Gupta sent bureaucrats involved in the hawala case to jail, politicians have been granted bail. Said one lawyer: “Members of one class, be it politicians or bureaucrats, are being treated equally, but different classes are being treated differently”. ( via http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?201077)
It would be high time that the debate should be started over the subjective bias of the holders of public office including judges. Otherwise Late Palkiwala would be right in observing that equality is only in graveyard. But is it really there? Because no two tomb stones are equal.
© Sandeep Bhalla