Sunday, 12 April 2015

Tear the VEIL OF SILENCE & FEAR surrounding India's judiciary

My main objective in running this poster campaign about judiciary is to tear the veil of silence surrounding the judiciary. I just want to throw open the judiciary to public scrutiny and debate, just like all other democratic institutions. My being right or wrong is irrelevant; I try to be right in what I say, but I am at best a journalist or cartoonist, NOT a legal expert. I’m provoking thought and discussion around various issues concerning the judiciary’s dealings with the public.
BUT SOME PEOPLE FEEL THAT NOBODY SHOULD TALK ABOUT JUDICIARY. They feel that judges and lawyers must not be blamed or criticized for the nation’s ills. They feel that although we may criticize government, political parties, and individual politicians, we must never criticize anything concerning judiciary. Let us look at some of the ARGUMENTS of these people, who are self-appointed guardians of judiciary:
ARGUMENT # 1: Criticism of "weaken the authority” or “erode the institution” of judiciary, and therefore, critics are being unpatriotic.
COUNTER-ARGUMENT: The high offices of Prime Minister and Chief Minister, MP and MLA are intact after decades of scathing criticism in the public and the media, aren’t they? CRITICISM DOES NOT WEAKEN OR ERODE ANY PUBLIC AUTHORITY. For public officials, taking public scrutiny & criticism of their performance is part of the job. Judges and other officers of the judiciary have gotten away so far because of fear of contempt, but that cannot continue. They too must come under public scrutiny.
ARGUMENT # 2: Judges are doing a tough job, and so they deserve four to six months of holidays per year for studying the case files and refreshing their mind.
COUNTER-ARGUMENT: Judges are SUPER PRIVILEGED PUBLIC SERVANTS APPOINTED FOR A LIFETIME to a job that is socially held in awe. Theirs may be a tough job, but then, there are tougher, and more deadline-driven jobs in the public and the private sector. If judges deserve six-month vacations, then so do policemen, bureaucrats and surgeons. India should keep all police stations, government offices and hospitals closed for several weeks for summer vacation, with only a “vacation cop”, “vacation secretary” and “vacation surgeon” to deal with urgent matters.
ARGUMENT # 3: Only people with thorough knowledge of judiciary and its procedures (i.e. lawyers and retired judges) have the right to criticize judiciary. Others should keep quiet, because they don’t know what they are talking about.
COUNTER ARGUMENT: If this rule were to be uniformly applied to matters concerning government and administration (i.e. only former bureaucrats and former ministers should criticize government), then the aam janta and journalists should shut up. I don’t think that is acceptable.
ARGUMENT # 4: Krishnaraj is ignorant and knows nothing about the judiciary. So he should shut up.
COUNTER ARGUMENT: I don’t claim to know everything, but as a citizen and journalist whose experience of judiciary began in August 1987 with being held in custody in Gujarat for 17 days (including a very nice dose of custodial violence by police), and filed three PILs 2004 onwards, I think I know some things. Also, as a journalist, I understand the situation from the experiences of many others. And I can voice my opinions on social forums. If I am wrong, go ahead and correct me.
ARGUMENT # 5: Why criticize when you are not suggesting solutions?
COUNTER ARGUMENT: Some of us have gotten together, identified problems and proposed solutions that were developed after some discussion with lawyers and experienced litigants. Here they are:
However, we don’t expect all people to necessarily agree with our various points & proposed solutions.
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