Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

Judges versus CJI

On 12/1/2018 four Supreme Court judges, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan Lokur, held a press conference and spoke against CJI Dipak Misra. Later they made public a letter they had written to CJI around two months back. Judges holding a press conference is unknown. I do not know any country where judges have held a press conference. In this case not only was a press conference held, it was against their Seniormost colleague. That day there was an article in The Indian Express by Dushyant Dave. I wondered whether Dushyant Dave will get a notice for contempt of court. That did not happen. The four judges validated Dushyant Dave’s writing. There was a report that CJI Dipak Misra will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. Attorney General K. K. Venugopal was to be with him. It was not to be.
Opinions differ about four judges. Some praise them. Some are neutral. Some are against them. Those who praise them said the judges did the right thing. Desperate times need desperate measures. Those who are neutral say the judges would not have come into the open unless it was necessary. Those who are against say the judges have resorted to trade unionism, they have demeaned the Supreme Court; they should quit or be removed. It is judicial misconduct. They claim CJI is first among equals but do not consider other judges equal to them.
Some see it as a clash of egos. The judges did not get the cases they wanted to hear. Junior judges got them. The quartet accepts CJI is master of roster but claims convention should be followed while allocating cases to judges and benches. On 10/11/2017 the Constitution Bench head by CJI Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices Rajesh Kumar Agrawal, Arun Mishra, Amitava Roy and Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar had declared it was the prerogative of the CJI to decide which case was heard by which judge. This verdict overruled the decision of two-judge Bench led by Justice Jasti Chelameswar and comprised of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer who had assigned a medical college case to five-judge Bench. CJI Dipak Misra constituted a new five-judge Bench.
On 11/1/2018 CJI had assigned two petitions regarding the death of judge B. H. Loya, who was presiding over Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, on 1/12/2014 to the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Mohan Shantanagoudar. On 12/1/2018 the quarter had met the CJI for change of Bench of B. H. Loya case. CJI did not oblige. Soon press conference followed.
Congress members have supported the judges. D. Raja met Chelameswar. His party CPI distanced itself from him.
On 14/1/2018 Bar Council of India delegation met most Supreme Court judges to resolve the issue. The delegation consisted of Madam Kumar Mishra, S. Prabhakaran, Apurba Kumar Sharma, Satish Deshmukh, Pratap Mehta, Rameshchandra Shah and T. S. Ajith. Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh met CJI and handed over a resolution on the rift.
Anuj Loya, son of Special CBI Court Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, said in a press conference “We have no suspicion over father’s death. I had suspicions earlier but now it is over.” Ameer Naik representing the Loyas said “There is no controversy. No need of politicising the issue. This is a tragic event. We do not want to be victims of politicisation. Let it remain the way it is. Non-controversial.”
People openly do not talk about corruption in judiciary due to fear of going to jail for contempt of court. Now that four judges have spoken out about some issues, other judges should come out and talk about corruption in judiciary. They should mention cases where bribes were paid or something else was offered to settle cases one way or another. They should mention cases where ministers or others met judges to influence cases. They should mention how some Law Ministers managed judiciary. They should mention how some undeserving persons became judges of High Courts or Supreme Court and deserving persons did not become judges of High Courts or Supreme Court. Such revelations will cleanse judiciary.

Sati and Jauhar

It is reported that CBFC has decided to certify Padmavati UA after five modifications. One of them is to change the name to Padmavat. Another is to have a disclaimer stating the film does not subscribe to the practice of Sati or seek to glorify it.

There is difference between Sati and Jauhar. Sati is committed by widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Jauhar is committed by married women as a group when their husbands are alive. It is during war. It is done to avoid capture by enemies. There is no hope of winning the war and defeat is certain. After women die, men go to war and fight till death. Some say Jauhar was the prerogative of Rajput women while Sati was for all Hindu women. It does not seem all Hindu widows committed Sati. Some lived with heads shaven and clothes that identified as widows.

Padmavati or Padmini and other women committed Jauhar, not Sati. The disclaimer against Sati is meaningless. It is said three Jauhars took place in Chittor. One was during Padmavati’s time. Second one was during Karnavati’s time in 1535. Bahadur Shah had surrounded the fort. Third one was in 1568. Akbar killed Jaimal and conquered Chittor.

The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act bans glorification of Sati. There is no law that bans glorification of Jauhar.

Dropping the last letter to change the name of the film from Padmavati to Padmavat ostensibly because the film is based on poem Padmavat by Malik Muhammad Jayasi has led to some jokes. The film is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansal, starring Deepka Padukone, Shahd Kapur and Ranveer Sngh.

BJP 19 states

It was celebration time for BJP MPs as they gathered in the afternoon today, 20/12/2017. BJP had won in Gujarat for the sixth time in a row and had won Himachal Pradesh from Congress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly told BJP MPs “We are now ruling 19 states. Even Indira Gandhi, when she was in power, was in 18 states.”
Now there are 29 states in India. When India Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966 there were 16 states. Haryana became a state in 1966. Himachal Pradesh became a state in 1971. Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura became states in 1972. Sikkim became a state in 1975. During Indira Gandhi’s lifetime the number of states was not more than 22. She died in 1984.
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Goa became states in 1987. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand (then Uttaranchal) became states in 2000. Telangana became a state in 2014.
In Jammu and Kashmir BJP is in coalition with PDP. In Goa, BJP is in coalition with regional parties. In Manipur, BJP is in coalition with NPP, NFP and LJP. In Bihar it lost the election in 2015. It is in power because Nitish Kumar dumped coalition partners RJD and Congress in July 2017 and formed a coalition with BJP. In Andhra Pradesh, BJP is junior partner to TDP. In Maharashtra it has Shiv Sena and some small parties as allies.
Congress rules Karnataka, Mizoram, Nagaland and Punjab, Left Front rules Kerala and Tripura, AIADMK rules Tamil Nadu, TRS rules Telangana, BJD rules Orissa, TMC rules West Bengal and SDF rules Sikkim.
It is a great achievement for BJP from two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 to 86 in 1989, 120 in 1991, 161 in 1996, 182 in 1998 and 1999. Then there was decline to 138 in 2004 and 116 in 2009. Then rise again to 282 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.
When Indira Gandhi was PM, Chhattisgarh was part of MP, Jharkhand was part of Bihar, Uttarakhand was part of UP and Telangana was part of Andhra Pradesh.

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