Indian Judicial System Precariously Poised: The Era of Pedigreed and Prominent

Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni

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It appears beyond any shred of doubt that the Supreme Court of India is losing its sheen.

It is distressing and debilitating to note that justice in the present era, with notable exceptions has become a mirage.

The Supreme cause for the very inaccessibility of justice rests with none other than the Supreme Court of India.

governThe primary reasons which meet the eye, include the lauding of Oxford-oriented oratory, the consideration of political background of the members of the bar and the elevation of the so-called top lawyers based on media’s perceptions.

The present kind of dispensation of justice by the Supreme Court contributes in no uncertain terms to its ever-elusive nature for the have-nots.

There are members of the bar who are non-entity, however well versed with the intricacies of the law and who put their point of law cogently to espouse the cause of their respective clients. But the kind of reception meted out to them from the members of the bench with certain exceptions is hardly appreciable.

This has made access to justice dear and beyond the reach of a common man. A two-day symposium of the 18th All India Legal Services Authority was organized by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority (RLSA) from July 16 to 17, 2022.

democracy

The same was graced by the gracious presence of the Supreme Commander of the scheme of justice, namely, Shri N.V. Ramana along with other members of the bench and the various judges of the other High Courts.

In the opening session the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Shri Ashok Gehlot mustered the exceptional courage to express without any fear that justice is being delivered at the Supreme Court on the face value of the member of the bar and further deplored the “trend” of judges giving judgments based on the ‘face value of lawyers.’

On the second day to salvage the happenings of the former day, the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, Mr S. S. Shinde in an obvious reference to criticism raised by Mr Gehlot at the inauguration of the 18th All India Legal Services Meet said that it was “uncalled for and unwarranted” and struck a conciliatory note of let’s forgive and forget” the whole episode.

The aforesaid conciliatory note if not directly then indirectly acknowledges that something is rotten in Denmark. (William Shakespeare’s Hamlet).

The view voiced by the Chief Minister is not bereft of any basis, for, a live telecast of the Supreme Court would reveal beyond any shred of doubt how the members of the bar who do not carry the qualification stated, herein before, their SLPs are tossed like any other object of the game.

This assertion certainly requires intense introspection by none else, other than the members of the bench of the Supreme Court holding the reins of justice.

The well-noted journalist cum columnist Tavleen Singh in her recent column of Indian Express of 24th, July 2022 under the caption ‘Defaming dissidents’ highlighted her woes regarding the present issue and the same reads thus:

“When a senior BJP spokesman twitted that my son was a paid ISI agent, it implied I had bred and nurtured a Pakistani spy. I wanted to take the BJP’s star spokesman to court but my efforts were stymied at the first hurdle when I discovered that it would cost me more than I could afford to hire even an ordinary, unknown lawyer.”

judgesThis itself speaks volumes about the cost of litigation concerning the hiring of an advocate.

The principal issue at hand was how to make justice easily accessible to the poor and needy at the critical hour of their poignancy.

It would not be hyperbolic to state, herein, that justice was not so expensive and elusive even in the British era, owing to the fact that the members of the bench, true to their oath were discharging their duties.

It is not to say that the past or present members of the Supreme Court have not paid or are not paying true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as established by law, but the uncalled-for disparity between the prominent names of the bar and the unsung names of the bar has made the justice illusory and unattainable.

The recent article of Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is an Indian academician and was the former Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka University, in the Indian Express dated July 29, 2022 under the caption ‘Kafka’s law’ while commenting upon the judgment of the Supreme Court relating to the Constitutional validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act said:

“We should be grateful that the Supreme Court of India has in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary and Ors. Versus Union of India, which challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), laid bare the true character of the Indian state. Justice A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C. T. Ravi Kumar have once again demonstrated that the only stare decisis that now matters in the Supreme Court is that it will be even more executive minded than the executive. Rather than being the guardian of rights, the Supreme Court is now a significant threat to it. This is a depressing predictability that the Court brings to Indian jurisprudence.”

lawMr. Mehta has minced no words to state his dislike for the present system of dispensation of justice by describing the Supreme Court, erstwhile known as the guardian of rights has now transformed into a significant threat to them.

It appears beyond any shred of doubt that the Supreme Court of India is losing its sheen. It would be better that it slips out of its slumber and smells coffee to make justice accessible to all and sundry irrespective of their status or stature.

And for this Constitutional and noble cause, I hope the Supreme Court would grant the similitude by hearing the renowned and non-renowned lawyers with the needful parity.

This indeed and in all sum and reality would wipe out the notion of the justice seekers that only the renowned lawyers are accorded reception and hearing at the Supreme Court and restore faith in its equitability and ultimately the door way to the justice would not be beyond the means of a common man.

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Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni is a Senior Advocate at Rajasthan High Court.

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