Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Mamata Banerjee on corrupt judges

Mamata Banerjee’s statement that court orders can be bought has evoked various reactions, most of them against her. Her statement was taken in the context of West Bengal Human Rights Commission slapping a fine of 50,000 rupees for the arrest of a professor who had sent her cartoons through e-mail. Her critics said her statement was unacceptable and irresponsible; she was dictatorial, intolerant and does not have a sense of humour.

Mamata Banerjee did not mention WBHRC judgment. Taken in itself her statement is nothing new. The then CJI S. P. Bharucha had said 20% of the judiciary is corrupt. Nobody said his statement was unacceptable and irresponsible. A magistrate had issued four arrest warrants for 10,000 rupees each and the persons to be arrested included President Abdul Kalam and CJI Vishwanath Khare. Prashant Bhushan faces contempt of court case for stating eight of 16 former CJIs were corrupt. Soumitra Sen, a High Court judge, had faced removal by Parliament. He quit after Rajya Sabha voted to remove him. There was demand to prosecute Nirmal Yadav which was granted on the last day of her service.

No critic said Mamata Banerjee was wrong. Her critics know she spoke the truth. Contempt of court provision has been used to punish people, mainly journalists, who exposed judicial corruption. An MLA is immune from prosecution for contempt of court for whatever is said in the Legislative Assembly under Article 194 of the Constitution. Mamata Banerjee as an MLA enjoys immunity. Mamata Banerjee spoke in general terms. She did not mention anyone by name. Some dispute immunity saying the Assembly was not in session but the Article does not say the Assembly should be in session to have immunity.

Someone said there are some rotten eggs in judiciary but you should not condemn all. Even if there is one rotten egg it is one too many and rottenness spreads. Rotten eggs should be removed.

The lawyers who condemn Mamata Banerjee defend all types of criminals. They should introspect. May be they are afraid that Mamata Banerjee knows some incidents and she will go public.

Some argue a chief minister saying something against the judiciary will make people lose faith in the judiciary. Faith is lost when people do not get justice. People lose faith when cases drag on for years. People lose faith when murderers, rapists, molesters, abductors, swindlers and other criminals walk free or get bail easily or spend time in hospitals instead of jails. In Andhra Pradesh one judge faces prosecution for getting six crore rupees to give bail to Janardhana Reddy.

Mamata Banerjee being dictatorial, intolerant and not having a sense of humour is a separate issue. It does not add or subtract anything from the issue of judicial corruption.

Supreme Court judges have resisted the demand to declare their assets. They lost their case in Delhi High Court. Now the case is in Supreme Court. The judges are a party to dispute and they will decide.

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