Intellectual attainments or material possessions?
I AGREE WITH MR GUPTA ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN TRIBUNE PROVIDED BELOW , BUT IT IS A FACT THAT CORRUPTION HAS PERMEATED IN ALL SPHERES OF OUR LIVES AND JUDICIARY IS NO EXCEPTION. IT IS NOT THAT WE ARE HOUNDING THE JUDGES BUT FOR ASSET DECLARATION OR IN ISSUES OF BIAS BUT ENSURING THAT A PERSON WHO SITS IN THE JUDGE CHAIR SHOULD BE SPOTLESS.HE SHOULD BE BEYOND BIAS. IT IS THEN ONLY JUSTICE WILL BE COMPLETE.
JUST IMAGINE THE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES OF BIAS IN WHICH A LITIGANT MAY LOOSE HIS CASE BECAUSE OF THE OTHER PARTY BEING CONNECTED TO THE JUDGE OR MONEY POWER INFLUENCING JUDGES.
THERE IS AN URGENT NEED TO CLEAN THE SYSTEM . IT IS NOT AGAINST THE JUDGES BUT A CAMPAIGN TO ENSURE JUSTICE.
RAVI KANT /ADVOCATE
BY JL GUPTA IN TRIBUNE CHANDIGARH
Finally, SC judges declare assets’ is the headline. Have the people gained? Will it improve the quality of justice? I think not. In fact, the whole controversy regarding the declaration of assets by the members of the higher judiciary is unfortunate. The fact that fuel has been added to the fire by some who were once a part of the judicial system makes it worse.
It is true that those who sit in judgement over their fellow human beings should be men of character, intellect and integrity. They must inspire confidence in the minds of people.
But can we stretch it to mean that every person who dons the judge’s robes must live in a glass house? Or that a lawyer who sacrifices his lucrative practice to accept elevation must expose himself to the prying eyes of the public? And can the declaration ensure integrity?
If yes, this would necessarily mean that the judge and his family must not only declare the area of land, houses, money (in bank and hand) but also the number of bags and bangles, beds and bed covers, crockery, cutlery etc.
In other words, the judge must place a list of all the movable and immovable assets on the web site. Would it not enable an unscrupulous litigant to pick holes in the declaration and raise unsavoury controversies everyday? Will it not be a licence to throw stones at the judge knowing that he cannot answer back? Would the whole exercise be not wholly counter-productive?
It is known that members of the higher judiciary come from the Bar and the Judicial Service. The lawyers considered for elevation furnish copies of their income and wealth tax returns to the Chief Justice. After appointment, they have to continue to comply with the tax laws. Similar is the position with regard to the members of the Judicial Service who are picked up for appointment to the High Court. In addition, their annual property returns are invariably with the High Court. Thus, the complete details are always available with the government and the High Courts. Why is that not enough?
Secondly, society needs to understand the onerous nature of the judge’s job. Every litigant believes that his case is good and the cause just. The person who wins is always certain that justice has been done. He has only got his due. However, the side that loses invariably believes that a serious wrong has occurred. Resultantly, with every case that a judge decides, he earns a critic.
The litigant makes all kinds of baseless allegations. It is to protect the judge from such elements that the framers of the Constitution had provided protection to the members of the judiciary. We can violate it only at our own peril.
And then, what are a judge’s real assets? The brain or the bank balance? Fortune or fortitude? Intellectual attainments or material acquisitions? The extent of possessions or the absence of wants?
An ass can carry gold but eats only grass. The man in robes is not very different. Usually, he works like a horse and lives like a hermit. And yet, we complain.
Today, the civil society faces a crisis of character. There is a devaluation of values. Most of us, who talk of values, actually love valuables. In the morning, we pray. Then we spend the whole day looking for a prey. And all of us are a product of the society that we live in.
When the wood is crooked, the furniture cannot be straight. In today’s environment, despite checks, a black sheep can enter the system. However, such situations have always been effectively dealt with. Invariably, the unwanted weeds have been weeded out.
Still more, let us not forget that we are a democracy. Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right. Thus, it is no surprise that almost everyone assumes a right to criticise.
Some of us live only to find faults. They continuously hunt for blemishes. It is a miserable mission. It can be totally destructive. We need to remember that it is difficult to build an institution. Any fool can destroy it.
In India, the judiciary is one institution that has served society well. It has functioned without fear or favour. Let us not ruin it by raising avoidable controversies. As it is, good lawyers are no longer keen aspirants.
If we persist, I suspect that we shall spoil things beyond repair. We need to protect it against malicious vilification.
Truly, no system can be perfect. But we know that the judges work in open court rooms. Under the constant gaze of the parties and their counsel.
Nothing escapes the eagle’s eye. And then their judgements are public property. Open to critical scrutiny by one and all. That is a good check.
Lastly, there is an old saying — ‘Believe less than you hear of a man’s fortune and more than you hear of his fame.’ It is apt in the present context.
Today, we know as to how rich or poor each judge of the apex court is. It makes no difference. A judge’s worth has to be judged on the basis of his work. Tales about his wealth may never be true.