It isn’t hard to dredge up judgements or rulings from, or stories about the Indian judiciary that will make you cringe, shudder, or even weep. Here’s one, a judge in Gujarat deciding, in all his estimable wisdom, that a 13 year old rape victim had no health grounds for an abortion (I think I can safely estimate his wisdom to be that of a raw potato).
Here’s another, a Chief Justice of the Supreme court of India involved in corruption of humongous proportions. Which, of course, one isn’t allowed to say out loud. It would be contempt of court, you see. You don’t? You say truth is a defence against allegations of defamation or libel? Not when it came to the judiciary. Not until 2006. Even after that, as Arundhati Roy says:
… obviously when you ask for an investigation you have to state your case, and when you state your case you will be imputing dishonourable motives to a judge for which you can be convicted for contempt. So: Nothing can be proved unless it is investigated and nothing can be investigated unless it has been proved.
Or Judge Dinakaran, a judge so well known for his corruption jurisprudence that no State Bar wants him. The Sikkim Bar went so far as to ask the Central Govt., on record (through the national media, in fact), to not dump judges who were being punished in Sikkim.
The tragedy in Bhopal was turned into an unmitigated disaster by the lack of, well, spine, in the judiciary. The case against the accused in the Parliament attacks case, where the Supreme Court decided that Afzal Guru should be hanged because the collective conscience of the society demanded it. (Somehow, unfortunately, the collective conscience of the society never seemed to demand justice for the victims of Bhopal. The tragedy, perhaps, is that this particular one may not be entirely the judiciary’s fault.)
This being by no means an exhaustive list, I know it may not be the smartest thing to do to expect wisdom, erudition, scholarship, broad knowledge, or anything more than minimal competence from the judiciary in this country. But how stupid could you expect judges to be? How low could they go?
Five judges in Andhra Pradesh have been caught cheating in their Master of Law (LLM) examination.
Let that sink in. Judges, who are entrusted with dispensing justice to those most desperately in need of it, the people who, therefore, are presumed to not only know the law, but also to apply it judiciously, have been caught copying from textbooks, hidden cheat-sheets, and printed pages from books. And there were five of these super-intelligent, super-ethical paragons of jurisprudence.
A healthy society, it is said, is one where people may disagree over each others’ judgements, but don’t ever have to question each others’ motives. I don’t think I can ever say that out loud with a straight face without being reminded of these honourable men.