Rule of law

Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan, Chief ...

Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India, during an official visit in Brasília, Brazil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living in a country, which was under foreign rule for over seven hundred years is not easy. People through generation after generation learned that survival under corrupt autocratic rule is possible only through bribe. No wonder that that about sixty five years after the independence the only pan India culture  is corruption. Every office and every institution is marked with corruption. So much so that it is an agenda for mass protests held at several places in the country. However at the end of protests, some of those who were leading  it, had also resorted to corrupt practices. In a democratic country Judiciary is the only institution which can keep the ruling élite, in check to ensure that democracy does not become some kind of aristocracy or dictatorship. For the record Hitler was elected to the Government and he seized absolute powers through legitimate/constitutional means.

Unfortunately, transparency in affairs of judiciary in India is severely lacking. The method of appointment of judges to higher judiciary is most mistrusted system and is under attack from all sections of society including those judges who were once part of the system. (Read here.) There have been allegations of corruption almost with every retiring Chief Justice of India with exception of 1 or 2 former CJIs since the new millennium.  Newspaper staff publishing the allegations of corruption has been sentenced to imprisonment under contempt law though Supreme Court stayed that decision. But the fear of contempt looms upon every individual/institution. In certain ways situation is more akin to the Martial Law. But it is heartening to note that voice of dissent is coming from within. Following news inspired me to write this post:

A bench of Justices BS Chauhan and JS Khehar said if the competent authority found that the allegations deserved to be acted upon, then the President on the advice of the council of ministers could go ahead as per Section 5(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, and send a reference to the Supreme Court for its opinion on removal of Justice Balakrishnan as chairperson of the apex human rights body.  This is the first instance when the apex court has told the government to take a decision on a complaint against a former Chief Justice of India. It is also the first time that the SC has said the government could consider sending a reference against an NHRC chief if the accusations against him were found worth inquiring into.”If the allegations, in the aforesaid determination, are found to be unworthy of any further action, the petitioners shall be informed accordingly. Alternatively, the President of India, based on the advice of the council of ministers, may proceed with the matter in accordance with the mandate of Section 5(2) of the 1993 Act,” the bench said. (http://m.timesofindia.com/india/Supreme-Court-asks-Centre-to-examine-complaints-against-former-Chief-Justice-of-India-KG-Balakrishnan/articleshow/13086987.cms)

Please take note that all that the bench actually said was ‘please follow the law’ as you were supposed to do in case the former CJI was an ordinary government servant. As a matter of fact this order restores Rule of Law by ordering that normal procedure laid down in the Act of 1993 should be followed. It may be recalled that the allegations against KGB is that his kins made money while he was in office. (Read here.)

© Sandeep Bhalla

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