President is not the King and he can commit mistakes. What Uttarakhand HC forgot was the same rule applies to them also.
It is not an overstatement if one says Congress alone is capable of breaking its records of stooping morals. The way, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat tried to buy ‘his own MLAs’ was just the starting point. Then, the way the Budget was passed through voice vote, instead of calling for division of votes indicated the public that there are something sinister that was controlling the cabinet.
When he guessed he probably could not buy the MLAs, next followed the standard protocol of dismissing the MLAs, before any floor test is requested and the assembly session was prorogued. Immediately after the sting video had surfaced BJP, suffering massively from the deficit of quality manpower moved to the President, without pausing for a moment and formulating strategy on assessing future course of possible events. Still, the evidence of the video was so overwhelming, even the Congress nominated President couldn’t reject the centre’s request and took the state under his control.
And, as the old saying goes, with old age comes a bit of philosophy, but as they were past their prime, they enjoy giving sermons to all and sundry. And, the President, who also happens a good writer advised the judiciary about the negative impact of ‘Judicial Overreach’. Don’t step onto others toes – was the message, but the tone was more of chastising, rather than an advising. It appears his advice, in so clear language had upset some of judiciary’s activist Judges and this had reflected in the comments of the bench that stayed the President’s rule in the state of Uttarakhand.
The way the Speaker passed the financial bill that was defeated in the floor doesn’t induce any doubts on his impartiality, but confirms his biased functionality. On that day itself, as per the constitution, the Government should have resigned owing to the defeat of financial bill. Why the Uttarakhand HC had not considered this fact that was the starting point of all constitutional actions that followed is a mystery.
“President is not the King”, “Even the President can make mistakes” were the comments by the learned judiciary on the highest authority in the land.
But, the comment became a political statement, when the court had a witness before it in the form of a video in which the CM was trying to buy his own MLAs, and the way speaker suspended rebel Congress MLAs before any possible session to prove the majority of the Government, learned members of judiciary choose to stress on remarking the actions of President. The same speaker didn’t disqualify the rebel BJP MLA even in the last many weeks did not attract the attention of the bench.
What the judge wanted to convey? Were they sending a sublime message to the President and others who have not favoured the ‘judicial activism’ that judiciary is supreme? If so, the country is set to be doomed.
Judicial activism was in vogue for nearly two decades. Still, there is not a single instance, when the Supreme Court or any of the High Courts passed an order directing the governments at the centre or at the states to increase number of courts and other judicial infrastructure so that the millions of cases that are pending across the country. Like education institutes, even judiciary gets second rated graduates, as the toppers prefer to practice the law that is more rewarding monetarily. What prevented them to improve their own efficiency that was notorious worldwide, before advising the polity and administration for the same? All one had to refer was the case filed by Mr Pike on Taj group of hotels. He was injured during the attack on the hotel by Kasab and gang and subsequently he suffered from paralysis. When he filed the case in UK, that was contested by the Taj group, Justice Stewart of Royal Courts of Justice had remarked that it may take twenty years for the case to reach the probable end stage, if tried in Indian courts. Now, where were all these judicially active judges when they read these comments in the media and what action they have taken? Had it been any common Indian, he would have been booked for ‘contempt of court’ the charge that is the most ridiculous law that exist in Indian constitution.
Even the trial case related to the coal scam in which Manmohan Singh was called to the court had erred in its judgement. All Manmohan Singh did was to review the decision taken by the government and changed it. And it benefited certain individuals. Now, whenever the judgement of lower court is overturned by higher courts, was it not the same reviewing process that is followed? And, were not some individuals benefit due to those reversal of ruling? If MMS can be booked for one overturned decision, the magistrate who proclaimed Salman Khan guilty shall also be booked, when the High Court of Bombay, within few days could declare Salman Khan Innocent, relieving him all charges. No wonder, kith and kin of the dead people wonder who killed the dead? Any answer?
Frankly, at present there are only two institutions that are not questioned openly in India. The Army and the Judiciary. And most of the scams happen in Army purchases – is public knowledge. Similarly, how the corruption plagues the lower levels of judiciary, apart from sufficient legal knowledge is also known to all, but who bells the cat? Even in the few cases that were reported and discussed in the media, be it the case of sexual exploitation by Ashok Ganguly of Kolkata high court or the notorious Balakrishnana and Dinakaran’ case, the judiciary failed to take actions on their brethren. Instead, Supreme Court stalled the creation of NJAC. Judges appointing Judges! That is a better way of setting example.
And what was the result of the revoking of President’s rule in Uttarakhand. Showing high efficiency, Harish Rawat resumed office and took twelve decisions in a single day, an efficiency only can be seen in the movies. By the way, it may be better if he is allowed only to work on weekends, so the efficiency of his government will increase. Legally, without a copy of judgement he assumed the office and it would be worth to notice if the learned Uttarakhand HC takes cognisance of this point. But, then even Supreme Court heard the appeal by BJP, without the copy of judgement.
Coming to the issue at hand, all Uttarakhand HC directive could achieve was to reinstate Harish Rawat for one day in the office. He himself said that much that he became ‘former CM’ when the Supreme Court stayed the judgement of High Court and earlier he was a ‘sacked CM’. The high court had not taken earlier instance of the removal of personal secretary of Harish Rawat in July, 2015, when a video showing the PS was discussing a bribe deal for liquor license. So, the PS take bribe and not CM; was this the high court believe? The credibility of the litigants establishes the track record of them and it was for the court to consider it.
Now the Supreme Court had stayed the verdict of High Court pacifying the Zero Los’Sibal, even when he stated that staying the HC’s verdict amounts to enforcing the proclamation of President’s rule. Supreme Court had asked the Centre, a set of questions. Though some of these were very much in line with the process of establishing the factual events so that the court can decide, one question was in fact directly reminding the judges of high court about their step on the President’s toe that could well be avoided.
The highest court wanted to know, whether Governor can ask Assembly Speaker for division of votes, as both are constitutional authorities. This is a question that can be put very well, whether the court can even discuss (forget revoking) the decision of the President as both the court and the President are both constitutional authorities! Of course, it is for the courts to interpret law and if the ruling of the President is not in line with the constitution, it can be simply suspended. But, I wonder, what course would be left for courts, when Governments enact a constitutional amendment with brute majority, like the way Rajiv Gandhi did in case of Shah Bano case. In fact, common public expected the Supreme Court to declare the constitutional amendment made by Rajiv ‘Null and Void”. This inaction had resulted another women going to the same Supreme Court for justice, with similar reasons. Can someone say, the institution of Supreme Court failed the country, when it could not stand up against Rajiv’s brute majority in the parliament? No. Judges at that time had left it to the wisdom of Parliament, as with time things change and Parliament represents the feelings and voice of citizens of that era. It appears current judges of Uttarakhand HC have different opinion and tried to play larger role than what the constitution allowed them to.
Here, we are not discussing the morality of politics as it is known that there are no morals in politics. It is not for the first time that MLAs were bought and sold. It happened earlier and will happen again. The point is about the judiciary and its reaction to the statements by individuals. They shall be limiting themselves to talk about the case at hand and not be eloquent while delivering judgements. Leave that part to people like me – to comment upon. And, if there is some extra energy available with the learned judges, it would be prudent to utilise the same to eliminate the problems that plague the judiciary. If not, the day we call them ‘Halting Court’ and ‘Staying Court’ is not too far.