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Should the Judiciary introspect over Mamata's kolaveri?

Oops, she did it again! No, not Britney. Mamata.

While we lesser mortals sheepishly look for wriggle-room after having inserted a foot into the mouth - our own - Didi has put both in. Practice, perfection and all that jazz notwithstanding, one wonders why she continues seeing ghosts at places where most of us struggle to see places. What is it with her and an almost pathological state of near-perpetual agitation which makes her indulge in such calisthenics?

In a mindless display of trademark indiscretion, she has got the goat of the legal eagles, political allies and opponents; who have closed ranks and “have come down hard on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her judgments-can-be-bought comment, accusing her of running down a constitutional authority”, reports the Hindustan Times.

Did the truth hurt so deep – has Mamata touched a raw nerve?

Mamata Banerjee has criticised the judiciary saying that verdicts could be bought and she was willing to go to jail. AFP

The glorious era, when institutions were respected just because they merely existed, is long gone. Look around. As a reflection of the entropy around us, three out of the 4 pillars of our democracy are getting pummeled regularly. And rightfully so. Is asking questions, criticising and putting people and institutions in the dock - leitmotif of modern day existence?

"…Why should many judgments today be delivered for money? Why?" she asked a day after the State Human Rights Commission instructed her government to pay Rs 50,000 each to the two men arrested for circulating a cartoon after the sacking of Dinesh Trivedi.

All hell broke loose subsequently. Balbir Punj, Adhir Chowdhury, Soli Sorabjee, Santosh Hegde, KTS Tulsi, JS Verma and a few more promptly issued statements chiding her, such statements having a liberal sprinkling of words like “Unbecoming”, “Irresponsible” “More prudent”, “Constitution” , “Contempt of Court” and “Intemperate language”.

All this kolaveri, why? Could it be, could it just be, that what she said reflects the unsaid and the unmentionable? When legalese collides with common sense and then smashes against ethics, does truth necessarily lie on one of the three vertices?

Let me take the argument further. Is Gopal Kanda absconding? If you are a lawyer, like KTS Tulsi is, he is not “absconding” on account of some legal interpretation, which yours truly has not been able to comprehend till date.

A common citizen possessing some common sense , on the other hand, possibly thinks Kanda is absconding. A philosopher, who has dabbled in spirituality and morality, would possibly say he is running away from the results of his actions, propelled by the force of his guilt. Or something like that.

So what is correct? Is he absconding or not?

Let us turn our attention to another aspect. Something that Didi touched upon.

T Pattabhiraman Rao. K Lakshmi Narasimha Rao, D Prabhakar Rao. T V Chalapathi Rao. Do those names ring a bell?

If one were to dive into the archives, I am sure the list of judges and lawyers who have been caught over the years, indulging in unethical if not corrupt acts, would extend beyond the names mentioned above. Mind you, they may all turn out to be innocent, the 4 gentlemen mentioned above. But the fact that something undesirable has been allegedly spotted in the manner in which they have discharged their professional duties, speaks globules, if not volumes.

On another note, but one that holds the mirror to the profession, have we forgotten how lawyers in Bangalore, not very long ago, turned the city civil court near Cauvery Bhavan into a virtual war-zone? Not just that, they also “unleashed their anger on the media by attacking them with stones, flinging chairs from the first floor of the court and even using glass tumblers as missiles, when the journalists assembled to cover former minister G Janardhana Reddy's court proceedings.” (TOI, March 2012)

The intent, explicit or implicit, is not to paint the entire Institution with the same brush – but can the esteemed legal luminaries like Mr. Sorabjee, KTS Tulsi and others also introspect and acknowledge that there was more than a grain of truth in what Didi said. Sure, she exaggerated, and for that she needs to be roundly castigated – but within the folds of her gleeful generalisation, lies a reality which needs to be first acknowledged, and then addressed.

The Judiciary can’t expect to be left perched in splendid isolation on its less than pristine Ivory Tower, unexamined and unquestioned, anymore. Nothing is beyond a little enquiry

(shining.path.notperu@gmail.com)