THE RECENT Supreme Court judgement upholding appointment of Justice (retired) RA Mehta as Lokayukta of Gujarat has been hailed by all of English media and the usual gang of `democrats’. Their exuberant defence of this deeply flawed decision is meant to celebrate 'cutting to size’ of Modi. They are either unable to see serious danger posed to democracy by this exercise in 'judicial empire building' or their commitment to democracy is just skin deep.
Second was the one propounding theory of limits on the power of Parliament to amend the 'fundamentals of the Constitution’. This gave five or seven judges of SC the power to overturn an amendment passed by two-third majority of the Parliament. In the instant judgement, the SC criticises the Governor for bypassing the council-of-ministers to go direct to the Chief Justice of High Court of Gujarat (CJI) but then goes on to justify the appointment of RA Mehta solely on the 'recommendation’ of CJI.
The behind-the-back of the council-of-ministers 'consultations’ between the Governor and CJI. Since these 'consultations’ were known to the CM, the same are considered good enough substitute for consideration and recommendation by council of ministers. How can incidental knowledge about an issue can be taken as acceptance is only apparent to Their Eminences who were sitting on the Bench.
The single name recommendation of CJI is justified by the SC on spurious logic of 'primacy of view of CJI’. Thus, henceforth CJI of a state need not recommend a panel of names for appointment as Lokayukta. His Lordship will 'recommend’ a single name of a retired judge known to be openly hostile to Government of the day and this recommendation will have 'primacy’ over the view of council of ministers, and in case of dispute the Governor will go by the decision of SC.
Now, please remember the fact that finding of Lokayukta is subject to judicial review but Their Eminences are not subject to investigation by 'anybody including Lokayukta’. So what do we have? We have judges, qualified in law, with very little knowledge about governance, not accountable to any disciplining authority but with powers to overturn decisions of the Parliament (Legislature) and superintendent executive through an appointee from their fraternity (Lokayukta). If this is democracy then I do not know what is dictatorship?
While some of the more informed MPs like Mr. Arun Jaitley have already raised objections to this judicial over-reach, bit it is quite likely that such sane voices will be drowned in partisan cacophony. Present day media, especially English media with its TRP-driven hysteria does not seem of much use!
In any case it is looking at the case from through anti-Modi prism and hence has already celebrated this 'victory’! Hence there is a need for concerned citizens to wake up and demand 'accountability of judiciary’. The judges must deliver justice and be consist in interpreting the law. Their work output must be subject to audit based on international norms. Only serving judges ought to be appointed in quasi-legal sinecures like Chairmanship of various tribunals. Judges must not be allowed to use trappings of coercive authority like pilot cars, sirens on cars or traffic disruption. Prosecution of corrupt judges should be a straight forward affair. Their power to self-appoint must be taken away. Courts must be brought under RTI Act 2005.