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Justice Delayed

Justice Delayed

The Supreme Court Collegium was supposed to reiterate its choice of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court of India in its meeting after the Modi Government sent back the proposal. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra indicated as much in open court while dealing with a petition recently.

However, a meeting held on May 2 concluded without making the reiteration. There is no official word from the collegium on the issue, except that the matter was discussed by the Chief Justice of India and the next four senior-most judges who make up the Collegium.

A resolution published on the Supreme Court’s website says that the Collegium met “to reconsider the case of Mr Justice K M Joseph... and also to consider the names of Judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, in view of the concept of fair representation.”

What is this concept of fair representation? Is it having a judge from every high court in the country, along with representation to women and Dalits, Tribal and OBCs? While these may be important, the Supreme Court should ideally be packed with the 30 best legal brains in the country otherwise fit to be judges, even if they are from one state.

‘Fair representation’ of states is an excuse the Modi Government tried to make while unfairly rejecting the recommendation for elevating Justice Joseph to the Supreme Court. The only other judge from Kerala at the moment is Kurian Joseph, whereas Kerala has had at least two judges in the Supreme Court continuously for more than 40 years now. That is an indication of the quality of judges from the Kerala HC more than anything else.

The Modi Government’s idea of fair representation is evident in the number of Gujarat cadre civil servants in the PMO.  Or let’s just take the number of chief ministers the BJP has handpicked from the Thakur community in the last few years: It has Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh, Trivendra Rawat in Uttarakhand, Jai Ram Thakur in Himachal Pradesh and Vasundhara Raje Scindia in Rajasthan. If the BJP has not considered ‘fair representation’ of castes while making political appointees for the chief executive’s post in states, why does its Government at the Centre insist on narrow divisions to be taken into consideration while the top-most judges of the nation are appointed?

However, there is speculation that the Government has reached out to the Supreme Court for an ‘amicable settlement’ of the issue as the BJP seems to have made an assessment that the rejection of Justice Joseph’s appointment to the Supreme Court without justification has hit the Government’s and BJP’s images. The Government also fears that the judge issue could snowball into a political storm against the Modi Government, accused by the Opposition of arm-twisting the judiciary. The grapevine has it that the Collegium will select three more judges for elevation while reiterating on the appointment of Justice Joseph and that would be done in the next few days.

Misleading Karnataka

Elections bring out the worst in Narendra Modi. That is the time when he forgets that he is the Prime Minister of the country and needs to regulate and moderate his remarks. Last week he replied to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s challenge for a 15-minute debate with him by asking him if he could speak without notes for 15 minutes in any language of his choice, including Hindi, English or “his mother’s mother tongue.”

Now that is vintage Modi. He has revealed to his admirers the source of inspiration of trolls who abuse people on twitter and party leaders who spout nonsense. He may try to hide by playing philosopher, friend of children or a nattily dressed statesman at times. But all it takes is an election speech to undo all this.

And what is the use of wearing designer shoes, glasses, suits or shawls if he still feels he is poorly dressed and ruggedly attired Rahul Gandhi is better dressed? Or does he think that the people are blinded by such utterances during elections?

It’s no longer possible to believe that these are slips Modi makes during his speeches. On May 3 Modi spoke thus: “In 1948, after defeating Pakistan, General Thimayya was insulted by PM Nehru and Defence Minister Krishna Menon.” Fact: General K S Thimayya assumed charge as India’s sixth Army Chief only in May 1957. He had a tiff with Menon and resigned but Nehru refused to accept his resignation and allowed him to complete his term.

Modi’s claim that General Cariappa too was ill-treated by the Congress Government is false again. Cariappa was decorated as the first Field Marshall and remains the only five-star General other than Manekshaw.

HRD’s e-Mess

NCERT books have been available for downloads for several years now at its website. However, after the NDA Government introduced 'e-patashala' and created a hype on Digital India, downloading has become cumbersome.

The e-pathshala site is a mess, after the NDA Government’s false claim “books are now available digitally” when it has been available for several years before Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. Trying to download books for my son, my experience has been that the site crashes quite easily and often. I guess the server for the site had a limited capacity and is unable to bear the load after the site was embellished with unnecessary things like the colour photos of the PM and HRD minister.

For all the bragging about Digitial India, this example shows everything is used for the propaganda for the Modi Government and many of its actions as counter-productive for the ‘digital revolution’.

Downloading books is not just about each parent saving a few thousand rupees and the environment. If a book is digitally available, children don’t have to carry books up and down to school and home.

Also books like 'Exemplar Problems' in Science and Maths, which children referred before exams and which were available on the NCERT website earlier, have been taken off the website. Children now have to buy books from private publishers.

Has this been done to benefit private players at the cost of the public? It is surprising that the media that does all kinds of stories of very little public interest is unaware of this mess despite several million students being affected by the measures.

It would not be far from the truth if one says that a Government run by semi-literates have made life difficult for ordinary citizens in several different ways. But the sad thing is that many of us seem to be enjoying it.

( abey.kay@gmail.com)

(Published on 07th May 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 19)