IMPEACHMENT IMPOSSIBLE IN INDIA
By Chitranjan Sawant
Chief Justice of India knows very well that BHRASHTACHAR or Corruption of the worst order is eating into the vitals of India,that is Bharat. The three pillars of democracy - legislature, executive and judiciary have failed to stop corrupt practices from one part or from all parts collectively or severally.
There are a number of checks and balances in the judiciary to see that corruption is kept at bay. In good old days there was no corruption in higher judiciary. Corruption had touched only the periphery of the lower judiciary, mostly the ministerial staff. The judges were, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion. The judges were not only well paid but also had no inclination to come in contact with touts, munshis or other suspicious characters who indulged in this sort of dubious game. The judges did not accept bribe that could influence judicial decisions. By and large, honesty prevailed in the temple of justice.
GODDESS OF JUSTICE WENT BLIND
The goddess of justice has a piece of black cloth tied over her eyes so that she does not see either the plaintiff or the defendant or the witnesses and is, therefore, not influenced by any party to the litigation. She is not blind though and has clear cut legal perception. She lets justice be done and also seen to be done.
Unfortunately there was a sudden flood of recruitment of judicial officers and judicial magistrates when the Executive and Judiciary were separated as per the constitutional directives. The judicial officers were recruited on such a large scale that the quality of judgements and ethics could not but suffer. Corruption of all sorts made big inroads into the judiciary. Since all concerned gained notoriety for receiving their shares of the bribe, there was no one to entertain a complaint against corruption. Members of the judicial system were thick as thieves because they were all beneficiaries of the corrupt system as stated earlier.
IMPEACHMENT OF JUDGES
The higher judiciary had been above board all along until the Executive meddled with the appointment of judges and had their own favourites appointed as judges of high courts and the Supreme Court of India to get favourable judgements in cases of political nature. In the cases where the Constitutional Law was involved, it was important for the government of the day in New Delhi to see that the Judiciary did not upset the political applecart. Indira Gandhi was a trail blazer and the first one to have the Supreme Court judges superceded to get her own man selected as the chief justice of India. The downhill run started from there and no one could stop this roll down.
If judgements could be influenced by prime minister and other central ministers, then they could be bought by other litigants too. The big business houses and tycoons were not far behind in buying the judiciary unashamedly. Judges too had a free run in making money and asking litigants for favours of sorts like receiving an air conditioner or other accessories of computers or sleek laptops.In one case when the police raided the house of a businessman, it found a case file along with a draft judgement that the judge himself had given to the client in lieu of a small monetary gain.It goes without saying that the hon’ble high court judge had dictated the judgement that went in favour of the businessman-client from whose house the police had recovered all sorts of contraband goods and the case file of the high court concerned. Judiciary was put to shame.
The Chief Justice of an important high court had spent public money in buying presents and gifts for his daughter's wedding and was caught accepting financial favours from the rich clients. He was not only removed from the bench deciding judicial cases but was also subjected to impeachment proceedings in the Indian Parliament. It was a foolproof case against the sitting chief justice and he was sure to be impeached successfully.
Lo and behold! the Congress party in Parliament decided, under the leadership of late Rajiv Gandhi, to abstain from voting on the motion of impeachment. The motion fell as the requisite number of votes in favour of impeachment could not be cast owing to abstention of the Congress members.
Thus a dishonest judge saved himself from the first impeachment despite overwhelming and unassailable evidence against him. Corruption at a high level was condoned by those who were at the helm of affairs of the Indian National Congress leading to gross miscarriage of justice. The counsels, advocates, litigants and passers by – they all take interest in such cases of miscarriage of jusice and ask themselves whether they will get justice in their own pending cases in an atmosphere where corruption is rampant. Moreover, if the said chief justice of the high court was let off on a technical point because a political party chose to refrain from participating in the voting system, what would happen to corrupt judges of the higher judiciary in future.
Who will bell the cat, even if a bell has been procured? None, my lord, none.