By Soroor Ahmed,
Two wrongsÃ¢â‚¬â€œÃ¢â‚¬â€œor even three four, fiveÃ¢â‚¬â€œÃ¢â‚¬â€œdo not make one right. So when A Raja as the then Union Telecom Minister (on June 12, 2009), through a lawyer friend, called upon Justice Raghupaty of the Madras High Court to seek favour for the bail application of a doctor friend and his son, allegedly involved in the MBBS mark sheet racket, he cannot be defended on the plea that Ã¢â‚¬Å“there is something rottenÃ¢â‚¬Â in the Indian judiciary.
No doubt things are alarmingly bad in judiciary and the above Shakespearean expression on rottenness was used on November 26 last by the two-member bench of the Supreme Court, which flayed the Uncle Judge syndrome in the Allahabad High Court.
The Supreme Court bench said Ã¢â‚¬Å“Some judges have their kith and kin practising in the same courtÃ¢â‚¬Â¦And within a few years of starting practice, the sons or relations of the judge become multi-millionaires, have huge bank balances, luxurious cars, huge houses and are enjoying a luxurious life.Ã¢â‚¬Â These lawyers are Ã¢â‚¬Å“shamelessly taking advantage of this relationship” and getting favourable judgement for the clients.
True, when the judiciary has become rotten anyone can use influence; and who can do this better than A Raja, who himself is by profession a lawyer. However, it should also be understood here that A Raja did so not just because he was a Union minister but also because as a lawyer he was aware of what is going on in judiciary and how much influence he can exert.
But there are many rajas and ranis in the Indian democracy who have twisted the arms of judiciary. In fact what happened in the run-up to the imposition of Emergency in India on June 25, 1975 should not be forgotten when the Allahabad High Court gave verdict against the election of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. While some in judiciary stood up, some others bended, and even crawled, before the political executive.
However, it would not be fair to put all the blames on the political executive, or even for that matter permanent executive, that is bureaucracy. The judiciary itself is no less responsible.
This can be exemplified by what former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, himself a product of struggle against Emergency, told the Supreme Court a few months back. He said that at least eight of the 16 Chief Justices of India (CJIs) were Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdefinitely corruptÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. In his affidavit he said that two former CJIs had personally told him that their immediate predecessors and immediate successors were corrupt judges.
But Justice Raghupaty of the Madras High Court may have been different. He is among those who chose to take on the pressure from the political executive head on. He not only mentioned in the open court that he got a phone call from a Union minister regarding bail petition but also reportedly wrote about it to the then Supreme Court Chief Justice, K G Balakrishnan.
Interestingly, Justice K G Balakrishnan denied that he had then received any letter. Instead he said that he had asked for a report on the incident from the Chief Justice of Madras High Court. He also said that the High Court itself was capable of serving contempt of court notice to the minister.
It was only on December 7 that the Madras High Court made public the name of the then Union minister. However, legal luminaries have started asking as to why the name of the minister was disclosed after his exit from the Union cabinet on November 14 and not earlier. Is it because he has now become a favourite whipping boy?
More surprising is the fact that a few days after Justice Raghupaty last year June mentioned in the court about a phone call from a Union minister, AIADMK supreme leader, Jayalalithaa told the media that the said minister is none else but Andimuthu Raja, the Dalit face of DMK.
How come she knew about it? Was it a mere conjecture or had she got some leak from the judiciary? If it is the latter then it is not a good sign either. The judiciary should have, then and there, made the name public rather than use the same political class to settle the score.