Courting law against judiciary by politicos!
By B.R. Haran
The politics of SSCP and the Ram Sethu controversy have made some leaders of the UPA to indulge in despicable acts and to make disparaging remarks against the Hindu Gods and Hindu religion, resulting in a flurry of cases being filed in the courts of law.
Many political leaders, both dead and alive, have spoken against the courts, in the past as well as in the present, but of late it has become a regular habit for the present bunch of parliamentarians, which is not good for a healthy democracy.
The Indian Constitution is said to be ?secular? and it defines ?secularism? as ?equal treatment to all religions?, in simple terms. An elected government is expected to act according to the Constitution in letter & spirit and the leader of the government concerned must conduct himself/herself in such a way that he/she remains neutral to all religious matters, maintains equidistant from all, whatever be his/her personal opinion.
The politics of SSCP and the Ram Sethu controversy have made some leaders of the UPA to indulge in despicable acts and to make disparaging remarks against the Hindu Gods and Hindu religion, resulting in a flurry of cases being filed in the courts of law. While hearing a petition filed by the AIADMK against the Tamil Nadu state government?s proposal of a statewide bandh, the Supreme Court awarded a stay order and allowed the petitioner to get back with a contempt petition against the government in the event of the latter?s failure to comply with the SC?s stay order. The state government, on its part, organised a daylong hunger strike and at the same time, ensured a total bandh through its cadres and affiliated trade unions. The non-compliance of the state government irked the Supreme Court to such an extent that it suggested that the state government stands to be dismissed and the case is fit enough for the imposition of the President?s rule by the Centre. The UPA-Left combine did not take the observation of the Supreme Court with a positive and sportive spirit and almost all the leaders went to town making statements against the SC. The judiciary-legislature spat, which was lying low after the ?reservation? imbroglio, has again come to the forefront through the SSCP controversy.
While almost all the Tamil Nadu-based newspapers, both English and vernacular, preferred to condemn the state-sponsored bandh despite a stay order issued by the Supreme Court, only one English national daily resorted to condemn the Supreme Court through a lengthy editorial. True to its communist mindset, the daily justified the enforced bandh and even made a silly point by comparing the state-sponsored statewide unneeded bandh with the opposition (read BJP) sponsored Hyderabad-centric bandh, a genuine one, in the aftermath of the twin bomb blasts, which took the lives of more than fifty innocent people. The AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalitha came down heavily on the daily for its insipid editorial, making a scathing attack on its biased observations. As expected, the entire TN media including the referred daily, preferred to black out her statement and refrained themselves from reporting the matter. The editor of the said daily also participated in a seminar organised by an organisation called ?Naam? in the city on the topic of ?Limits of Judicial Authority?, which was also attended by Brinda Karat, Union Minister A. Raja, A.K. Rajan, Retd. Judge, Madras HC and Kanimozhi, MP (she was also the organiser of the event).
In the present scenario, we have two cases, one is the statement of politicians, particularly Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, against Lord Rama and the Ramayana and the other is the attack on the judiciary by the UPA-Left leaders. A small analysis of the legal repercussions of Karunanidhi?s statements leads us to four main factors namely, defamation, disqualification, disenfranchisement and de-recognition. The defamation case can be filed in any court, in any state by any number of people. The section of IPC concerned is 295(a), which deals with offending, injuring, insulting, issuing objectionable statements against a religious head, religious body, religious deities, punishable on conviction with three years imprisonment. Also Section 298 deals with uttering words to wound deliberately the religious sentiments, punishable on conviction being a minimum of one-year imprisonment. The Ramjilal Modi vs UP government (AIR 1957 SC 620 & Criminal Law Journal page no: 1006) case can be cited as a clear reference for the above. Again Section 499 deals with passing comments against collection of persons or an identifiable body made of devotees, bhaktas, etc, or promoting such statements against the people, who are distinguished from others by their way of life. In G. Narasimham vs T.V. Chokkappa (AIR 1972 SC 2609 to 2614) case, two years imprisonment was awarded. For disqualification, disenfranchisement and de-recognition, both the courts and the Election Commission could be approached, the apt example for this case being the debarring of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for his alleged remarks against the Muslims.
While cases have been filed against the TN Chief Minister in a few places and many more are allegedly in the offing, the salvo of diatribes against the judiciary by the UPA-Left leaders deserve contempt of court petitions. Those who cried hoarse about the observations of the SC Judges against the TN government that they were off the track were conspicuous by their deafening silence on the arrogant statements emanating from the UPA-Left leaders, from T.R. Balu and Karunanidhi, to Ramadass and Veeramani to D. Raja and Prakash Karat to T. Pandian and Thol. Thirumavalavan.
Incidentally, the TN unit of BJP had decided to move the High Court against Chief Minister Karunanidhi for his anti-Ram remarks and Minister Arcot Veerasamy for instigation of violence against BJP and other organisations and Union Minister T.R. Balu for his disparaging remarks against the Supreme Court.
In this context, it would be appropriate on our part to remind ourselves, the case between E.M.S. Namboodiripad and T.N. Nambiar (AIR 1970 SC 2015). EMS was accused of condemning the Judiciary and when T.N. Nambiar pulled him to the SC, he himself argued his case and tried to justify his remarks against the judiciary. EMS?s justification was not accepted by the SC and he was hauled up and even though he deserved a minimum punishment of six months rigorous imprisonment, the top court stopped with a reprimand and also ruled that the court of law can take ?suo motu? cognizance of such statements in future and that it has the power with executive authority under the Constitution. The point to note here is that, EMS had a decent and upright image and he had not used any abusive language against the judiciary, unlike the present UPA-Left leaders, whose image and public standing is not so good as that of EMS.
The Supreme Court had acted as per the law of the land and its judgment was based on the Constitution of our country. The opinions and the observations of the judges were also in accordance with the law of the land. The laws are formulated and promulgated by the Parliament, which is made of politicians supposedly representing the people. If the politicians criticise and make undesirable comments on the judges and judgment, then it not only amounts to contempt of court, but also amounts to contempt of the Parliament itself, as they are the makers of those laws considered by the judges.
The imbroglio between the judiciary and the legislature has been prevailing in most of the countries world over, and the same has been there in alarming proportions particularly in our neighbouring countries. Such a situation has come to prevail in our country also. Many political leaders, both dead and alive, have spoken against the courts, in the past as well as in the present, but of late it has become a regular habit for the present bunch of parliamentarians, which is not good for a healthy democracy.
The democracy is supposed to be for the people, by the people and to the people and nowadays the people also lack in awareness of politics and public affairs. Almost 50 per cent of the society does not exercise its franchise during elections and a major section of the balance 50 per cent send criminals and corrupts as its representatives to the Parliament. In this kind of a scenario, one is reminded of the famous quote of Sir Winston Churchill, ?People who are indifferent will get a weak parliament and the weak parliament will have a weak government leading to dictatorship and corruption.? That is what is happening exactly now, and thank God, the judiciary is there to save us!