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When KEEPERS become KILLERS of FREEDOM

Indian constitution provides the Judiciary with ultimate powers to Safeguard, Secure and Protect the Constitution, in word and spirit. Judiciary therefore is expected to practice a Zero-Tolerance policy on every single issue related to corruption, Code of Conduct, Transparency, Political Interference / Influence, Personal Favours / Bias, Nepotism etc within the organization.
The founding fathers of the Indian constitution would be very sad if they were to witness the degenerated and corrupt state of Judiciary and its apex body SC that is responsible for upholding and protecting the Constitution. It is not in the concept but the fault lies in the people running these apex institutions. The concept of a Free and Fair Judiciary to protect the Individual Freedom of citizens of a sovereign nation is perfectly in place and well founded.

Justice R Raghupathy of Madras High Court had made a statement in the open court that a Union Minister had telephoned him in a matter concerning a mark sheet forgery scam which was investigated by the CBI. "According to reports, the judge has subsequently clarified that the minister had not spoken to him directly but that the lawyer appearing in the case on behalf of the accused had come to his chamber and informed him that the Union Minister would like to speak to him and even dialled the number to facilitate the conversation," the single page memorandum read. (Ref Link)
The issue had gathered huge public debate and angst, even to the extent that 180 MPs in both the Houses of Parliament submitted a memorandum to the PM requesting his intervention; and the issue was subsequently nailed and buried with a passing comment by none other than the CJI (Chief Justice of India) himself, stating & clarifying that no such thing has ever happened – means no minister ever tried to influence the judge ever. How ridiculous!!! The upside of this whole episode lies in the fact that the first time ever a High Court Judge has taken the lead and shown some teeth and courage to speak out in public, yet it did not reach any logical conclusion is a different matter. CJI either lives on some other planet or simply lying to the public by denying facts. Even a child in this country could tell how people use contacts and influence to get out of a situation and this particular case was no different.

Now coming to the transparency issue at the Judiciary. On Nov’ 2007, an activist files RTI application seeking information on Supreme Court (SC) judges declaring their assets. SC Information Officer refuses to answer the RTI query stating that SC is outside the purview of RTI. On January 2009, CIC (Central information Commissioner) rejects SC’s contention that CJI (Chief Justice of India) is outside RTI purview. But Delhi High Court stays CIC order on appeal of the SC. As if in some kind of a great hurry, the Government of India pushes for the BILL to keep SC Judge's declaration of assets as a closely-guarded secret, by excluding it from the purview of RTI. On 3rd Aug, thankfully and fortunately, the opposition forces law minister to defer the Bill. On August 09, Karnataka HC judge plus Punjab & Haryana HC Judge declare and make their assets public. Mounting public pressure and the division within the ranks, finally forces SC to accept making assets public. This acceptance however comes with a rider that the SC Registry would still not entertain any queries, even under RTI act.

“One judge can not embarrass the Judiciary” – says CJI – New Indian Express dated 25th August. This statement of CJI was in sharp reaction to a High Court Judge from Karnataka going to the press and declaring assets in public domain. Shall we say then that one CJI can embarrass the whole country?

The only counter point in support of assets not being made public by SC Judges all this while was that in case the assets are made public, the details could be misused. Very Sad indeed, but this is the level of commitment, accountability and the sense of responsibility of Judiciary towards the public at large and the right to information. What is it that the CJI actually wants to hide from public and why? Why the Government is also supporting & covering up for CJI and SC??

CJI says on 28th August in a press conference as below:
A) All judges have been filing statements of assets as per 1997 regulations
B) The delay is because some of the judges filed their statements in 2002-03 and they are updating the details.
These are two contradictory statements and being issued in the same press conference. If the judges have been filing statements of assets then why are they updating only now after 2002-03? He further goes on to say - “The only thing is that these details were not disclosed to the public. Now, because of the changed circumstances we are putting it on the website”.
What are these “changed circumstances” and why the Judiciary was dragging its feet in offering this transparency?

India needs a radical and complete turn around and a clean-up, now even at the Judiciary.

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