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This refers to your cover story The Chief and His Court (Jan 29). While the rebellion of sorts by four Supreme Court judges may settle down sooner or later, it is important that the higher judiciary should show utmost respect to the democratic political system’s two cardinal truths: responsible government and the sovereignty of people or popular will. The bureaucracy is answerable to the political executive, which in turn is responsible to the people through the members of Parliament and state legislatures in matters of policies, programmes and other executive actions and even inaction. The role of the courts pertains to ensuring justice, the most important duty of a society towards its people. Under the doctrine of separation of powers and checks and balances, the Supreme Court and the high courts should keep their hands off matters involving the responsibility of the executive and sovereignty of people and refuse to subject them to judicial scrutiny and review. It would also considerably reduce the pile of pending cases.
Nitin M. Majumdar, On E-Mail
Our Supreme Court is among the last few remaining institutions in the country in which people still haven’t lost faith. The citizens look up to the apex judicial institution as a last resort for justice (there have been some exceptions, of course, like the case of raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam). Sadly, even the reputation of this honoured institution is at risk now. The four senior SC judges have alerted the people about this risk so that future generations cannot accuse them of selling their souls. The current Chief Justice seems to be treating the SC as his own court and not as the highest court of the country. There is an urgent need to check this. The other judges aren’t his subordinates. In the US Supreme Court, all nine judges sit on one bench. However, given the fact that millions of cases are pending in our courts, including in the SC, this may not be a pragmatic step, but there is an urgent need to address this problem and make the position of the CJI what it is: a first among equals. Testing times lie ahead for the last bastion of the people’s hope and one particular case—that of ‘unnatural’ death of Justice Loya, will tell us if this bastion still holds or has fallen. For, not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Needless to say, the dissent by the top four, in the form of a press conference, over the alleged misuse of administrative power by CJI Dipak Mishra, is a matter of grave concern. Certain observers might be terming this act of dissent a politically motivated conspiracy, but the incident has undoubtedly rocked the democratic base of our country. The CJI, as master of the roster, is entitled to decide the composition of benches and allot judicial work. According to the four senior judges who held the press conference, the CJI is misusing his prerogative by playing ‘master of judges’ instead of master of roster. Their letter suggests that the CJI has deviated from conventions and flouted clear guidelines regarding the strength and composition of benches of their preference. However, the public exposure of the administrative crisis within the judiciary has ultimately cast a mist over the integrity of the Supreme Court, which is extremely unfortunate. As it is, the government at the Centre has tried to bend the judiciary in the past regarding the question of judicial appointments. Thankfully, the judiciary was able to reject those proposals. Now the million dollar question is whether the CJI will submit to the demands of the rebels. Considering the sanctity and reputation of the judiciary in Indian democracy, the matter should be settled immediately without the intervention of political parties or even the government.
Buddhadev Nandi, On E-Mail
An independent and honourable judiciary is indispensable for a just society. A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity of the judiciary is preserved. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India is the ‘first among equals’. His decisions should not proactively seek to set policy in the institution. Four senior judges of the Supreme Court have made a scathing attack against Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Unprecedented in Indian judicial history, the entire issue was made public. In support of the charges, they have cited two cases—the curious case of the former chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh and the revival of an impounded license to a medical college.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda
The ‘mutiny’ happened because CJI Dipak Misra is said to have allotted the case supposed to probe judge Loya’s death to ‘selective’ judges. But were these judges, to whom the case was allotted, incompetent or corrupt? If not, then why was there a cause for alarm? How is it that by non-allotment of certain cases to these four judges (the ones who held the press conference), democracy was thought to be in danger?
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
The allegations that the CJI showed bias in allocating vital cases to benches of his preference and to junior judges show that the judiciary is slowly losing its credibility. As there is no place for nepotism, favouritism, casteism and other extraneous considerations in courts, the time has come for the CJI to rectify the situation by urgently introducing remedial measures; otherwise, the dangerous precedent set by the four judges will only pave the way for more dissent, ultimately leading to the collapse of the rule of law. Finally, to preserve judicial independence, it is important that the issue be resolved internally without succumbing to the diktats of other wings of the government.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Independent India hasn’t seen a judicial crisis as severe as this. The manner in which things have unfolded in the past one year in the Supreme Court have undermined citizens’ confidence. If the seniormost judges in the collegium could not sort out their differences on certain issues, they could perhaps have called a full court of all the judges to evolve an institutional mechanism to deal with such situations.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
Supreme Court is the last refuge for the oppressed of the country, save it at all costs!
Anshuman Vyas, New Delhi
It’s a myth that the issue of women’s hygiene and menstruation is a problem only in the villages (Bleeding Heart, Murugan’s Pads, Jan 22). The problem prevails in urban spaces of the country, including its highly populous metros. We need our children to be educated more on this subject in schools, which should also promote open discussion on it. The government should impose no GST on this product. We now have dynamic entrepreneurs bringing out low-cost sanitary pads; a phenomena in which even Bollywood has found a theme for a film.
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
A very interesting read. One truly appreciates a man’s courage to undertake this amazing journey of providing relief to common women. He deserves recognition.
K.C. Varghese, On E-Mail
One wonders why “upper-caste” people went from Pune to nearby Bhima Koregaon just to insult and provoke the Dalits on the annual commemoration of the valour of the “lowly” Mahars, an event that Dalits have been celebrating for several decades (Why not Srirangapatna?, Jan 22). Dalit leaders Jignesh Mewani, Prakash Ambedkar and Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ are far off from justifying the merits of fighting for or against Peshwas or colonial British; but they are certainly concerned with the undeclared tyranny and fear generated by the Hindutva brigade to subdue minorities including Dalits, OBCs and tribals and, polarise society. Bheemrao Ambedkar’s contribution of giving us a secular Constitution stands sabotaged by supporters and enablers of Hindutva nationalism.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Apropos of ‘No Borders for Hilsa’ (In and Around, Jan 29), I would like to point out that Bangladesh imposed its ban on Hilsa exports in response to the failure, due to disagreement from Bengal’s CM, of Indo-Bangladesh talks about sharing water from the Teesta river. Bangladesh intended to use Bengalis’ love for the fish as leverage in the negotiations, but this did not pay off and thus they have now lifted the ban. This is a positive development for relations between the two countries.
Lt Col Ranjit Sinha (ret’d), Calcutta
This refers to your editorial comment Rani Nirbhaya (Jan 29). Haryana, notorious for honour killings, khap panchayats, female foeticide and fringe elements of all hues roaming the streets, has added one more feather to its infamous cap, as the rape capital of India. A rape and murder a day has become the norm in this state neighbouring the national capital, which itself is no better when it comes to women’s safety. It’s incomprehensible that while Haryana’s Rajputs want to protect the honour and valour of Padmini, said to be a fictional character, they have no respect for the honour and life of girls and women who are alive. The BJP leadership should show CM Khattar the door to save Haryana’s name and the BJP’s image.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
I read your comment on Rani Nirbhaya and found it most disturbing. I agree with your observations.
The entire Padmaavat fiasco is a crude political game to polarise and poison the social milieu with hatred and misogyny, in order to revive medieval feudalism under the saffron flag. The way the government has dealt with the violent and disruptive Karni Sena protests gives out a clear message that freedom of expression, guaranteed in the Constitution, will henceforth be regulated by the likes of self-styled, Right-wing vigilante groups and not the courts. In many cultures, women are revered as goddesses, yet violence against women is an everyday reality in our society. Turning a blind eye to the actions of fringe-groups like Karni Sena and failure to curb violence against women certainly canot be termed as good governance.
M.B., On E-Mail
Four rapes in two days must have jolted Haryana’s collective conscience. The unfortunate fact is, the state is witnesses an alarming number of well over a 1,000 rapes in a year, around 200 of them gang rapes, according to reports. That is about three rapes a day. There are also around 4,000 kidnappings a year. It is about time chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar realised that ‘divine intervention’ is not going to help him run the state. He must recognise the imperative of governance and take strict steps to end violence against women. This is not to say the state was much better before the BJP took charge. All that has been as much due to the self-serving ruling elite as the caste-ridden moribund structure of society.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
This refers to the cover story Click G for Media Monopoly (Jan 22). Google, with its Chrome browser, search engine and news provision, is now utterly dominant on the world wide web. Whatever our apprehensions about it, we simply cannot do without it, so thoroughly has it crushed its competitors; its necessity is a fait accompli. The internet without Google would be like a world without oxygen or food without salt.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
May I kindly be allowed to congratulate the person who designed the Outlook cover on Google—How to Gobble Up Indian Media? (Jan 22). I also want to mention how effective the informative graphics under the headings ‘Decline of the Maratha Empire’ and ‘The British, The Marathas and the Mahars’ were. They gave a comprehensive picture of the history behind the present conflict in Maharashtra. Keep it up Outlook.
G.L. Karkal, Pune
The article Bloody Scrum, Glorious Victory (Jan 22) looks at the Battle of Koregaon from a historian’s perspective. However, he does not point out that the Peshwas’ oppressive policy towards the Mahars had its roots in the Mahars of Vadhu village performing the last rites for Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son and successor, after he had been killed by the Mughals. The Peshwas, a Brahmin dynasty that rose to power afterwards, took this as an affront and persecuted the Mahars near Pune. The battle was ultimately not the result of the British divide and rule policy but of the Brahminical policy of caste segregation.
Ayushman, On E-Mail
If the British mistreated Dalits for a few hundred years, the casteist forces have humiliated and subjugated them for thousands of years. And they continue to do so. How many generations were lost in terms of the Dalits’ physical and psychological growth?
Brahminical domination persists in the media, judiciary, administration and education. How long and how far this would go on is anybody’s guess. As of now, the average dominant-caste person doesn’t even acknowledge the crimes of his ancestors.
Simon John, On E-Mail
Refer to Misery as a Terrific Biz Opportunity (Jan 15). I have also had bad experiences with private hospitals. Two decades back, my wife had a mild stroke for which a stent had to be placed in her heart. But she was still in pain after the procedure and the doctors couldn’t provide a clear picture of what had happened. This led to a lot of dreadful confusion. In another case, my nephew was diagnosed with TB. He was just a kid then. We went for further consultations and, eventually, a doctor (non-corporate) cured him alternatively.
The crux of the problem is that the medical syndicate that treats healthcare like a total business. This needs to be regulated. I feel that alternative systems of medicine must be encouraged. A lot of our ailments can be treated with these systems, without the need for vector allopathic intervention.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad