Wednesday, 5 December 2018


I happened to see the video clip of your address on the Constitution Day. Since I could not download the video from I just downloaded the text from the website of the apex court. Your exhorting on Constitutional morality actually reminded of two quips: the devil quoting scripture and prostitutes talking of chastity. What with 3 crores cases pending with our courts and our judges enjoying holidays like in colonial times! 

May I also ask why do aggrieved parties need to approach courts through advocates when the judges are expected to be conversant with the laws and the parties are conversant with the facts? I know that legally a litigant can approach the court in person. But I have personal experience of how complainants appearing in person even in consumer ‘courts’ are treated. (The obnoxious functioning of quasi legal authorities shall be touched upon later.) And don’t advocates disturb the level playing field available to litigants when they themselves have to present the facts before law qualified judges?

Fali S Nariman in his book 'India's Legal system: Can it be saved? Has stated that ‘For more years than I can imagine we lawyers have been using our lawyering skills not in a profession but in a game, in which the more skilful (which tends to become also the more costly), will invariably win.’

Coming to costs, particularly the fees of advocates, isn’t it obnoxious that when beating heart surgeries cost less than 10 lakhs as a package, advocates charge even Rs 1 crore just for conference? Just recollect the recent case of Arun Jaitley charging Aravind Kejriwal of defamation and the latter paying about Rs 2 crore plus to Ram Jethmalani from public funds for defending him. When the matter of public funds being wasted for defending someone in what was purely a personal case, was, rightly, taken up with the Delhi High Court it was reportedly dismissed.

Leaving aside the assistance being provided by the Legal Aid cells to the weaker sections, what action has the judiciary taken to regulate the fees of advocates and ensure its compliance? Is it even insisted that advocates issue receipts to their clients for the fees received by them? I can state from personal experience that walking upto an advocate to represent you in a case in any court is like walking into a trap. The moment you have signed the vakkalath you are literally at the mercy of the advocate and liable to fleeced to penury. The then Union Minister for Law, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had illustrated this with an example during his address at the concluding session of a seminar on ‘Access to Justice’ organized by the Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association.  He had said that at the beginning of the litigation the client came to the court in a car and the advocate was on a bicycle. By the time the case was over, the client was on a bicycle and the advocate in a car.

And, if at any stage you want to change him there is a, possibly unwritten, requirement of getting a no objection certificate from that advocate before your case can be handed over to a new advocate.

Your predecessor, Mr Dipak Misra, had said that the Indian judiciary is the most powerful in the world. He was right. We are well aware of how judges who had even held that right to life did not exist during the Emergency had upset the checks and balances, believed to have been provided in the Constitution between the three organs, and rendered even the legislature and executive redundant, as was evident in the manner in which even a constitutionally legislated National Judicial Appointments Commission Act was trashed.

Let me highlight the failures of the judiciary, as perceived by a citizen, through some pertinent questions in some illustrative cases.

Jayakrishnan Master was murdered in front of his primary school students in a class room on 1999, December 1. The trial court had convicted and sentenced to death 6 of the accused. The decision was upheld by the High Court of Kerala. But the apex court actually acquitted 5 of them and reduced the death sentence of one to life term. By this time all of them had completed about 14 years in jail and were released immediately or shortly thereafter. Soon one of them was involved in another gruesome (political) murder. T P Chandrasekhar was murdered with 52 wounds on his body. And we were shocked when the former convict in Jayakrishnan Master murder case disclosed that actually only he had been involved in that murder from amoung those who had been convicted earlier.

The pertinent questions:
1.      Isn’t it true that our jurisprudence is based on the premises that even if a hundred criminals escape not a single innocent one should be punished and that capital punishment is given in the rarest cases?
2.      Then how come 5 innocent persons were convicted by the trial court?
3.      How come the learned judges of the high court did not find out the error?
4.      How come the apex court even while acquitting all but one of the convicts, did not find any reason to bring the rest of those involved in the gruesome crime to book?
5.      Why no action had been taken against the investigators and the prosecutors who had successfully got 5 innocent persons sentenced to death in the trial court and got it upheld in the high court?

The next case I would like to take up is that of the air accident in the Mangalore Airport more than a decade back. When the compensation was to be distributed to the victims/next of kin it was initially ordered that they will all be uniformly paid. On appeal by the insurance company, the apex court had directed that it needs to be paid only in proportion to their income.

The pertinent questions here are:
1.      Had the carrier taken the income levels into account when charging for the tickets? Or, were the fares based on the income levels?
2.      Was the insurance provided free of cost?
3.      Even if it had been advertised as free (there is no indication of any such claims though), could it have been really free?
4.      Could any service have been free when the carrier was making profit equally from all the tickets sold?
5.      Wasn’t it gross discrimination against the passengers who had all paid equal fares (except in the cases of different fares paid based on the class of travel) and weren’t they entitled to equal treatment?

In Jancy Joseph vs State of Kerala (1999 (1) KLT 422), the question of applicability of Section 56 of the Civil Procedure Code while ordering arrests under the provisions of Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act was considered by the Kerala High Court. Under Section 56 of the CPC, 'the court shall not order arrest or detention in the civil prison of a woman in execution of a decree for payment of money; regarding recovery of money from others, arrest can be ordered if it is found that the person concerned have means to pay'.

The judge had ruled that 'I quash Ext P5 in so far as it holds that woman can be arrested for recovery of money under Sec 27 of the (Consumer Protection) Act and that means of judgment debtor need not be considered when the power under S 27 is exercised for recovery of money'.

The pertinent questions:
1.      Even presuming that nothing had changed from 1908 to 1986, and the preamble of the Consumer Protection Act did not mean anything, how did the judge increase the discrimination in Sec 56 CPC by rendering void the issue of means in the case of ‘others’?
2.      How come the judge dumped Article 14 of the Constitution which mandates equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws when the law makers themselves had strictly abided by Article 15 which forbids discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them?

In Mary Chacko vs Jancy Joseph (2005 (3) KLT 925), a division bench headed by the then CJ of Kerala High Court considered the issue of the applicability of the same Sec 56 of CPC while enforcing the orders under Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act 1993 and ordered that women CAN be arrested because 'there is a clear basis for treating the public dues different from the purely private'.

And here are the important questions:

1.      Which article of the Constitution, or the laws made under it, provide for such discrimination?
2.      Which is the article of the Constitution that has empowered a judge to discriminate between Consumer Protection Act and Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act which themselves have not discriminated between defaulters on any grounds?

In Ittavira Vs Varkey (A 1964 SC 907) the apex court has ruled that 'courts have jurisdiction to decide right or to decide wrong and even though they decide wrong, the decrees rendered by them cannot be treated as nullities'. And in Misrilal Vs Sadasiviah (A 1965 SC 553) the apex court has reportedly ruled that 'there can be no interference in revision merely because the decision is erroneous in law or in fact where there is no error pertaining to jurisdiction'.

Here the questions are:
1.      Where does that leave the ordinary mortals?
2.      Can’t a court with jurisdiction pass any absurd, patently unfair, unjust order?
3.      What is the use of any litigant pursuing appeals?
4.      Even in the cases where appeals and revisions are allowed what is action taken on the erring judge(s) and for compensating the victims?

Supreme Court had held in Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu Vs. Union of India (UOI, (2005) 6 SCC 344) that “…grant of any adjournment let alone the first, second or third adjournment is not a right of a party. The grant of adjournment by a court has to be on a party showing special and extraordinary circumstance. It cannot be routine. While considering prayer for adjournment, it is necessary to keep in mind the legislative intent to restrict grant of adjournments.”

The question: Why is it that the courts continue to be notorious for their tareeq pe tareeq syndrome?

It was a serving CJI who admitted that 20 percent of the judge are corrupt.

Here the questions are:
1.      Did he commit contempt of court?
2.      If what he said was true what action had been taken to identify and punish them under the Prevention of Corruption Act?
3.      How many judges have been punished in corruption related cases?

Given that accepting money is not the only form of corruption, what actions have been taken in the following scams reportedly involving judges:

1.      The Mysore sex scandal.
2.      The Karnataka housing plots allotment scam.
3.      The Rajasthan sex for verdict scam.
4.      The case of a judge of the Mumbai High Court who he had reportedly sought the help of the underworld to get the tenants of his flat evicted.
5.      Cash at doorstep of one judge meant to be for another judge of similar name.
6.      P D Dinakaran land encroachment scam
7.      The case of non bailable warrant issued against the then President of India and the CJI by a lower court judge.

This is just a random recollection of some media reports.

When the Right to Information Act had been enacted there were many reports of judges claiming how they had actually being pioneers in upholding the right to information under the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. But the fact remains that when framing rules, the Chief Justices as competent authorities, had introduced prohibitive fees both for the application and additional fees towards cost of copies of documents. Worse, it was only the judiciary that had introduced a fee for even the 1st appeal which was merely an additional opportunity given to the public authority to correct any shortcomings in the reply by the public information officer. While these issues have been rationalized the issue of still holding the judicial part of court functions out of purview of disclosure under the RTI Act remains. This is an important issue because there are cases where even after final arguments are concluded decisions are not announced even after a couple of years and the advocates express helpless and known to advice their clients to write to the judge(s) directly. Of course there is also the fear that even if is permissible the possibility of a favorable verdict in the offing may go adverse!

The judiciary still has not completely complied with the provision for suo moto disclosures under Section 4(1)(b). At least I have not been able to locate the information about the monthly remuneration received by each of its judges either in the web site of the apex court or the Kerala High Court under the ‘RTI-disclosures under Sec 4(1)(b)’ option.

Even an application for such information had been thwarted with the reply that one can refer to the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958 as amended
from time to time when the need was to provide the copy of the latest amendment applicable. Also an application for the copy/extract of the relevant law/rules where by judges of the higher courts are permitted to use Justice as prefix to their names got the response that ‘It is beyond the jurisdiction and scope of the duties of the CPIO, Supreme Court of India under the  Right to Information Act, 2005 to interpret the Iaw, judgments/orders of this Hon'ble Court or of any other Court, to glve explanation, opine, comment or advise on matters. Your request is not covered under Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act - 2O05

Of course, the judges have the freedom of blaming shoddy investigation and prosecution for miscarriage of justice. But then the question remains ‘who is responsible for the then CJI K G Balakrishnan claiming that the office of the CJI is out of purview of the RTI Act? ‘ And as of now there is also the question: what has happened to the appeal filed by the Supreme Court in the Supreme Court against the verdict of the division bench of the Delhi High Court in that matter?

The recent decision of the apex court in the Sabarimala issue is one of the most glaring examples of blatant violation of the Constitution and subversion of justice. It doesn’t require any arguments to acknowledge that the fundamental right to equality (Articles 14 and 15) is very much different from the fundamental right to freedom of religion (Articles 25 and 26) And if the court had to interfere with Article 25 and 26 under Articles 14 and 15, it was to remove the limitation of Article 25(2)(b) to only Hindu religious institutions of a public character. The closest that the bench which gave the verdict came to recognizing the crux of the issue was in defining the term denomination in Article 26. And there the authority for defining it should have been the dictionary or thesaurus and not the perception of the judges. It was a similar objectionable act of defining the term consultation in Article 124(2) that has led to the creation of a Collegium system of appointing and transferring judges. Whatever be the perceptions of the judiciary on this system ordinary citizens view it as upsetting the necessary check and balances provided by the authors of the Constitution. Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Law and Justice, headed by Rajya Sabha member E.M.S Natchiappan, referring to the judiciary's last word in appointment of judges, said, 'Judges appointing judges is bad enough in itself; judges judging judges is worse.'

The latest to criticize the Sabarimala verdict of the apex court is the recently retired judge of the apex court, Kurien Joseph. In his interview to Times of India, he had stated that there was no need for the courts to interfere with religious practices. He had also gone on to justify the controversial press conference casting aspersions on the then Chief Justice of India. Inadvertently he had also exposed that there are some sitting judges who are biased in their views.

In any case, whatever has been happening in Kerala after the reopening of temple after the verdict, has been nothing less than catastrophic and the responsibility squarely rests at the doors of the apex court itself.

Writing in the Mathrubhumi of 10 Nov 2011 (‘Vidhi prathilomakaram thanne’ that is, the verdict is heinous), Adv Kaleeswaram Raj had stated that an extra constitutional, unannounced and invisible emergency is being imposed through our courts and civil society has to be alert to this and react effectively. The pity is that he has not expounded what form this reaction can take.

Kaleeswaram Raj also reminds me of Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws) who had said “There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”

Justice Katju had said that in a democracy, the people are supreme, and therefore they are the superior entity, while all State authorities (including Judges) are inferior entities, being the servants of the people. And the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution had also explicitly stated that the highest office in a democracy is that of the citizen. These quotes are redundant to anyone who simply understands the meaning of the term democracy.

In the Indian context there is an urgent need to amend Articles 19, 129 and 215 of the Constitution, repeal the Contempt of Court Act (Act No 70 of 71) and restrict contempt of court to only such cases of willful non compliance with court orders. There is also the equally important need to constitute a National Judicial Accountability Commission with the powers to try and punish judges under all laws applicable for ordinary citizens but with twice the severity, being cases of professionals in law acting in violation of the law. Also, propriety will demand that the Commission is composed of eminent citizens nominated by various professional bodies, national award winners in various fields and registered NGOs with only one member from the legal field to guide the proceedings as in army court martials. Scope for appeal should be provided to an appellate authority comprising the Vice President, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

What is required in a democracy is a Contempt of Citizen (Prevention of) Act.

Of course this is just a pointer to some issues concerning justice delivery which is an important function of the State. Strictly speaking the changes required extend to rewriting the Constitution itself as the very architect, Dr Ambedkar, himself had reportedly said “People always keep on saying to me, so you are the maker of the Constitution. My answer is I was a hack. What I was asked to, I did much against my will. I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it. It does not suit anybody.”

Another member of the Constituent Assembly, Seth Damodar Swarup, had said, 'this Constitution may be the biggest and bulkiest constitution in the world, may even be the most detailed one, it may be heaven for the lawyers, and may even be the Magna Carta for the capitalists of India, but so far as the poor and the tens of millions of toiling, starving and naked masses of India are concerned, there is nothing in it for them. For them it is a bulky volume, nothing more than waste paper.' In retrospect we surely know that he was being prophetic.

To conclude, let me quote William M. Windsor (‘How to Fight Judicial Corruption’, Tuesday, 24 May 2011   available at )
When the opposing party violated the Rules and the law, I filed motions.  I quickly realized that the judges would protect the opposing party and attorney no matter what, but I did not let that stop me.  Every time I filed a Motion for Sanctions and the judge denied it for bogus reasons, I had more proof of judicial corruption.  I also had another appeal.  And when the appellate court protected the corrupt judge and the corrupt attorney for the other party, I had more proof of judicial corruption.  My goal will always be to obtain as much proof as possible of the corruption.

04 December 2018


The author of the petition claims to be working against corruption and human rights violations and to protect the environment. He is presently trying to prosecute a few people including some public servants who have connived to facilitate encroachment of some land acquired for developing the national highway and making illegal gains for themselves at the cost to the exchequer.

Through the online petition he is seeking just to get clarification on a recent amendment made to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. As per the amendment, to prosecute a public servant prior permission needs to be taken from his superior authority. Now the law is not clear as to what is the remedy if the permission is not granted within a specific period or not granted at all. His apprehensions are real in that invariably in corruption cases the superior authority is a party to the crime. In fact the guy who is actually taking the bribe is the one at the tail end of the hierarchy and his own share in the spoils could be the least.

It should also be obvious that no public servant can even take away a pencil illegally from any office without a couple of colleagues coming to know of it.

While the online petition is relevant, more pertinent is the obnoxiousness of the need for members of the public to fight corruption on their own steam. As far as citizens of a democracy, priding itself on rule of law, are concerned, the only course of action required to be taken is to bring the breaches to the competent authorities for necessary action. Officially we do have a plethora of institutions and procedures for investigating corruption cases including scams. But reports of a village officer here or a police constable there being punished for taking a bribe of Rs 100/- or 1000/- are frequent (but still not adequate to be a deterrent!) how many of the big sharks have actually been convicted for their crimes? Currently we do have a Lalu Prasad Yadav, a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, undergoing a prison sentence. In fact he has been punished by more than one court to varying terms of imprisonment and since the verdicts are of different courts it is not clear whether he will undergo the terms consecutively or is undergoing it concurrently. Whatever that may be the reports appearing in the media indicate that he is mostly undergoing treatment in hospitals, including in AIIMS, Delhi, India’s premier health care institution and the short spells he is spending in prison cells are apparently with such comforts as are not available to ordinary convicts.

Dr Abdul Kalam, when he was the President of India, had once asked ‘why is it that when most of the scams that we hear of are in thousands of crores, the under trials in our prisons are mostly the poor and marginalized?’

I wish he had sought the data from the judiciary itself. Even data about the offences, bailable or not, and if bailable, the reason for not granting bail, from a few randomly selected lower courts would have been revealing. One reason I have learnt is that for getting bail from the courts, one has to present a surety who has immovable property in his name along with the latest tax receipt for such property. Now how can petty offenders like pick pockets produce such surety?

Somebody had rightly said that laws are like cobwebs. Insects get caught but birds simply fly through.

Writing in the Mathrubhumi of 10 Nov 2011 (‘Vidhi prathilomakaram thane’, meaning that the verdict is heinous), Adv Kaleeswaram Raj had stated that an extra constitutional, unannounced and invisible emergency is being imposed through our courts and civil society has to be alert to this and react effectively. He was analyzing the contempt of court verdict against a Marxist party leader, M V Jayarajan, who had used the term ‘sumban’ (dimwits) for the judges who had banned road side meetings. On the face of it such usage may be considered inappropriate. But the fact remains that an earlier order of the same court banning bandhs had not been implemented even after being upheld by the apex court. So, wasn’t this order totally impractical when it comes to implementation? Further, the judges themselves had called Jayarajan a worm even while punishing him with a stiff sentence of imprisonment. Between dimwits and worms I am sure the dimwit part makes more sense than the purely contemptuous worm.

In fact the bandh ban order has been flouted with impunity by perpetrating the same action in the name of hartal. I had submitted an application under the Right to Information Act seeking copies of the orders of the High Court and apex court. The application, submitted to the Home Minister’s office was forwarded to their Secret Section (A) and the High Court, from Secret Section to M Department of the same Ministry. The M Section tried to palm off certain court orders that were not sought. The High Court denied it saying that as the matter pertained to a judicial proceeding it could not be provided! Now the irony is that when the Right to Information Act was legislated we had heard judges tom tomming how the judiciary had always tried to protect the right to information of citizens as a corollary to the right to freedom of speech and expression. It must also be remembered that all court proceedings are usually in open court and to that extent presumed to be transparent.

Back to the ban order on road side meetings. The Kerala Government promptly enacted to law to just regulate such meetings. But contents of this regulation notwithstanding, in practice what is done is that applications are collected from the organizers, without even acknowledging their acceptance and no written permission is accorded prior to the event. The events carry on as scheduled and though not exactly randomly, some cases are filed to create some statistics!

In the context of the current vitiated atmosphere prevailing at Sabarimala, it is pertinent to highlight the response of the current Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, the then State Secretary of the Marxist Party, to this order banning road side meetings. After visiting Jayarajan in jail he came out strongly against the court and even organized a protest in front of the High Court.  Needless to say it was on the road side itself, most blatantly violating the high court order which had been appealed against in the apex court but not stayed.

In fact, if you look at the overall situation, the ground reality is that the judiciary is a total failure. The touch stone is the truism that justice delayed is justice denied. And then there is also the cost factor. The renowned constitutional lawyer, Fali S Nariman, in his book 'India's Legal system: Can it be saved?’ has stated that “For more years than I can imagine we lawyers have been using our lawyering skills not in a profession but in a game, in which the more skilful (which tends to become also the  more costly), will invariably win.” Unfortunately, he has not himself answered the question he had posed. Probably, there isn’t any.

Renuka Narayanan, columnist, writing in The New Indian Express on 20/12/2004 ('Human rights, the genesis of justice is from religion') has stated that when we transformed from subjects to citizens, we forfeited our rights it seems, since what happens in our country now in the name of law is often rank injustice.

And, Aravind Kumar, writing in the Pioneer of 01/08/2006 ('Needed high speed legal redressal') has stated that justice is an intrinsic human need. We suffer much privation but we cannot suffer being wronged. Absence of justice, we must not forget, is one of the causes of crime.

Mr. Venkatachala, then Lokayukta of Karnataka had said, at a function organised by the Federation of Bar Associations, in Karnataka that "Corruption in the judiciary is a big problem. Nothing can be worse for the legal system". Citing a study done by Transparency International, he had also said that 89 per cent of the public thought that the judiciary was corrupt.

And here is a tongue in cheek view by Mahendra Gaur, who seems to know the system intimately: Good lawyers know the law; successful lawyers know the judge.

Suffice to say that the failed judiciary remains the bane of this country and the greatest impediment to its aspiration to regain its lost glory and be a power to reckon with in the comity of developed nations.

The politician-bureaucrat-underworld nexus had been the subject of many a study. But has any corrective measures been taken ever? The simple truth is that nothing is visible on the ground. The one step- enactment of the Right to Information Act- had given some hope. But that also remains belied. Not just information commissions but all institutions created to ease the process of justice delivery have remained counterproductive due to the ultimate failure of the judiciary itself because the tendency is to whimsically and waywardly deal with issues and push the aggrieved citizens to the already broken down judiciary. (For further reading refer the blogs at and

This is what V K Raghavan, former Director, CBI, had written in the Hindu of 23/01/2017 (“Dealing with the deadwood”): The only obstacle in the way of drastic civil service reform — like the one pursued by the present government at the Centre — is the judiciary that overturns or stays every administrative action against an erring senior officer. Courts would earn the admiration of a harassed public if they stopped interfering in disciplinary matters once they are satisfied that prescribed procedures had been followed in a case coming up before them and there is no malice writ large on a decision. Judicial overstepping, while correcting unjust action against a few honest civil servants, unwittingly promotes the cause of many unscrupulous elements. The track record of administrative tribunals in the country is a matter of great concern to those looking for a balanced and objective bureaucracy. There is need here for an immediate corrective by the Union Law Ministry.

Now ask what the Union Law Ministry can do about this. What has happened to the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act? A law, duly enacted by the competent authority through a constitutional process that is adequately severe has been dumped by a few judges on the specious argument that the executive involvement in appointment of judges would impinge on the freedom of the judges to act independently. Is it time that we asked should we do away with all institutions of government leaving alone the judiciary? Now, since the judges can only pass orders you need someone to enforce it also. So why should not we usher in a new democracy where we elect our judges and policemen and send everybody else home?  But then the questions will remain: who will judge the judges and who will police the policemen?

The Sabarimala situation shows that the ordinary citizens are not only always doomed to be in a NO WIN situation but can also be simple pawns in the power games of a handful few. (For further reading please read ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burnt…’ at, ‘Our constitutional fault lines’ at and a complaint to the Chief Minister of Kerala at )

26 Nov 2018


Commenting on my own article ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burnt’, published on 4th November 2018 at, I had written ‘I cannot say if the apex court judgment in the hands of Pinarayi led Government can be compared to a bouquet of flowers in the hands of a monkey or a murderous weapon in the hands of a serial murderer. The fact remains that the fear of their rights related to their faith being violated is writ large and there has been reports of protests from devotees even in far away Australia, Canada and the US of A.’

The events that followed the opening of the hill shrine for 5 days from the evening of 17th November, for one day on 5th November and the annual pilgrimage season, extending till mid January 2019, on 17 November has now exposed what a farce of a democracy have been gifted to us through a Constitution, which has been rightly criticized as a plagiarized version of the Government of India Act, 1935, enacted by the colonial rulers to grant limited self governance for the locals.

The Chief Minister of Kerala, a Marx follower, is now being referred to as Kerala Stalin with adequate justification. The way he has neglected the flood victims, a significant number of whom are still in relief camps, even after 3 months of the flood, his foreign jaunts for almost a month during this period, his failure to implement apex court orders in many cases, from implementing a minimum pay for nurses to handing over a church from one denomination to another, his effort to circumvent the apex court orders on banning admission to two medical colleges by issuing an ordinance, failure to investigate a party MLA accused as a molester by a woman victim of his own party…the list is long and enough to question his intentions when he has concentrated his efforts to ensure a woman of objectionable age (as per the devotees) is taken to Sabarimala.

The gross error in the majority judgment of the apex court has already been explained in detail in my article quoted earlier. What was left unsaid was that even before the temple opened for the first time after the verdict, in Oct, there had been filed two review petitions-one by the Nair Service Society through its advocate, K Parasaran on 8th October and another by  All Kerala Brahmins Association through Adv Sanand Ramakrishnan on 13th  October 2018. The court decided to take up these petitions only on 13th November 2018, just three days before the annual pilgrimage season was to start. And on that day, after hearing the parties in the Chamber, it was decided to hear the petitions, now almost 50 in number, only on 22 January 2019, after the temple closes at the end of the season. To add insult to injury the court made it clear that there was no stay on the original order.

Whatever has happened during the periods when the temple had opened will forever remain a blotch on any democratic government, even if it is a Marxist Party led one. It appears that the Pinarayi Vijayan led government is at war with the majority of its citizens, particularly the devotees of Lord Ayyappa. Forget about repairing the assets damaged by the floods, even the available facilities, including drinking water and toilets, were denied to the devotees reaching the shrine after long journeys and an arduous trek through forest track in a mountainous terrain. The dormitory accommodation available in the temple premises were also denied to the devotees. It was an agonizing and outrageous sight to see children sleeping near garbage bins, out of sheer exhaustion.

Immediately after the temple closed on 6th November, a video clip went viral on social media of the young District Collector of Patthanamthitta, P B Nooh, under whose jurisdiction Sabarimala is situated, ticking off the staff of the Tranvancore Devaswam Board for the lack of maintenance of the available facilities and unpreparedness for the forthcoming season that was just round the corner. But as current reports suggest, nothing had been done after that.

Leaders of groups who were I the forefront of peaceful protests earlier but were now on the way to the temple as normal devotees have been arrested. While Sasikala teacher, State president of Viswa Hindu Parishad, was let off by the Court of the RDO, K Surendran, General Secretary of State BJP, has been remanded to 14 days in custody. It is as if the Chief Minister is directly, and only, supervising the Police Raj at Sabarimala. The efforts to gag the media were foiled by just one channel, Janam TV, approaching the High Court of Kerala and getting orders forbidding government interference in media covering the events in and around Sabarimala.

Ever since the demolition of Babari Masjid there have been threats to both the temples at Guruvayur and Sabarimala, especially on the anniversaries of the event on 6th December. And now with the apex court order permitting women of the age group 10 to 50 to visit the shrine and the public protest against it, Pinarayi Vijayan is on strong wicket as far as the deployment of the large number of police personnel is concerned. But as it happens usually, it is always a question of misuse of powers for devious purposes that have been the bane of law enforcement in this country. While devotees are harassed in every possible way, including the denial of the right to perform the most cherished ritual of anointing the idol with the ghee brought by them filled in coconuts, the police have reportedly ordered even the insufficient food stalls to shut down after the temple hours. On the flip side they themselves have been ordered to wear their shoes, belt, caps etc as per regulations (which had not been there earlier). Silly as it may seem, they have also been ordered not to address the devotees as Swamy or Malikappuram, which are the traditional forms of addressing the devotees once they begin their vrat till they return after offering their prayers at the temple.

Central intelligence agencies have reportedly indicted the State Government. Central ministers are expected to visit the shrine soon to study the ground realities personally. But how effectively they will be able to intervene remains to be seen. The fact that the apex court could issue such a blatantly unconstitutional order (yes, I repeat, it is blatantly unconstitutional as it violates the fundamental right to religion as enunciated in Article 26 of the Constitution and has not abrogated Article 25(2)(b) which is applicable to only Hindu institutions and thus violative of the much touted right to equality.) an elected Chief Minister could strive to drive the citizens of his state into near revolt cannot be dismissed easily without recognizing the faultlines of our Constitution and the lack of the much needed checks and balances.

18 Nov 2018

Friday, 2 November 2018

Sabarimala and other issues-Complaint to the Chief Minister of Kerala

from: Ravindran P M <>
cc: CM Office Kerala <>
date: Oct 26, 2018, 10:50 AM
subject: Complaint-Sabarimala and other issues

Attention: Mr Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Mnister of Kerala

1. Refer my e mail of 1/9/16, copy given at the end of this mail.

2. Needless to say my hopes lie shattered.

3. You will no doubt go down in the history of Kerala as the last and worst commie Chief Minister of the State, nay, of the country itself. Maybe for some it would make no difference whether it is notoriety or fame that follows them.

4. I have read reports of you earlier telling media persons to get out in the most uncouth manner. And even reminding the Prime Minister that we have a federal system of government. And now you and your ministers are heard telling the Thanthri of Sabarimala that they are mere employees of the Devaswam Board. Now let me tell you that it will do you a lot of good if you get the following facts correct.

5. We not only have a federal system of governance, we are a democratic country too. I hope you understand what democracy means. It is rule 'of the people, for the people, by the people' as an American President put it. And the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution has unambiguously stated that 'the highest office of the land it that of a citizen'.

6. And before I go to your failures and perfidies as the Chief Minister, responsible for all that an elected government is tasked to do, let me place it on record that you and your ministers are our employees. Have no doubt about that.

7. Coming to the Thanthri of Sabarimala, being an employee of the Dewaswam Board, it is as much a fraud as the communist party did with land reforms- took land from the then owners and distributed it to a small group of persons and now doling out tax money to these very erstwhile owners for their sustenance. In the case of Sabarimala too the situation is no different. Sabarimala and the Ayyappa temple there is older than the State, the Dewaswam Board and even your party at the world level. The Thantri's income possibly is much lesser than what he would have had, had not the management of the temple's affairs been usurped by the government in a grossly unconstitutional manner and vested with the devaswom boards. We are well aware of the misuse of the voluntary donations of devotees to the temple by the employees of the devaswom boards, starting with its President.

8. This complaint will not be complete without recounting some ( I repeat some) of your gross failures during the last couple of years of governance. In the reverse chronological order they are as follows.

9. Your visit to UAE, with your family, at tax payers' cost,  with the declared objective of motivating NRKs to contribute towards the states' reconstruction after the floods. It appears, from reports in the media, after your return, that you have admitted to having had talks with business people to invest in Kerala rather than contribute to reconstruction of the flood ravaged state. In the background of the Global Investors Meet, hosted by the Government of Kerala periodically, this trip was wholly uncalled for, futile and waste of tax payer' money.

10. The plans to send 17 of your cabinet collegues abroad along with a team of about 190 bureaucrats was nothing but preposterous and we have to thank Mr Narendra Modi led government for denying permission. I am also wondering whether you and all the 17 ministers are redundant given the fact that you could plan to leave the state with your unfulfilled responsibilites of rehabilitating the victims of the flood, many of whom are still in relief camps.

11. Even when the rehabilitation activities were at its peak, you had left for the capital of the capitalist world, acclaimedly for treatment of an undisclosed ailment. While health and the treatment of indivduals are necessarily a private matter, it has to be an exception in the matter of public servants. Like freedom of speech and organisation, though fundmental rights under the Constitution, are denied to soldiers. In any case the public have a right to know of your ailment for two reasons: one, they are funding the treatment and all associated costs and two, they have to know if you are sufficiently health to fulfill the responsibilites that go with your assignment. The fact that you had not even handed over your duties while being out of the State for treatment tend to suggest that the ailment was not serious. And that also raises the question why you had misused your office to splurge tax payers money for a treatment that should have been availed within the State, which you yourself had boasted was amoung the best in the country.

12. That the floods were man made and attributable to the ineptitude of your government is no more in doubt. The involvement of the government in the rescue and relief operations were even more condemnable. Had it not been for the prompt and daring interventions of individuals and unorganised groups even the death toll would have been many fold. Even at the peak of these operations you and some of your ministers were only seen creating controversies, including insulting the armed forces who were here on aid to civil authorities.

13. The investigations into the sex scandals involving Bishop Franco Mulaikkal, priests, Fathers Abraham Varghese and Jayes K George, MLA P K Sasi have not only been unsatisfactory but also invites comparison with the molestation case in a Malappuram cinema hall. In the latter case, the theater owner had been arrested for an alleged delay in informing the police. As per  report in the Mathrubhumi of 5/6/18, the incident happened in a theater in Edappal on 18/4/18. The theater owner while going through the cctv recordings had come to know of this and reported the matter to the police on 26/4/18. The police had not taken any action till 12/5/18 when the information, along with the vidoe clip, was shared with Mathrubhumi and the accused was arrested. Now, in the cases involving the Bishop and the priests, the matter had been reported to the Church authorities who had been sitting on it and caliming that they were investigating into it. They NEVER even reported the matter to the police. Finally teh victims had to go to the police themselves. And those who supported the bishops's victims even had to stage protest outside the High Court of Kerala before things started to move, even though at snails pace. To the best of my knowledge the offence was one which warranted arrest under non-bailable charges.

14. The case of MLA Sasi has still not been registered by the police, even though the media has covered it adequately to warrant his arrest and prosecution too. And the party is certainly entitled to make their own investigation under party rules but not under the CrPC. If the Chief Minister, who is also in charge of the Home portfolio and controls the police, doesn't know this it is time that he relinquished the job on grounds of incompetence.

15. To cut this list short, I invite your attention to the following video reports on Youtube:  a muslim girl to CM, Kerala  an advocate on judiciary, govt and faith  a christian on xtian women adventurers

16. You may also like to hear what Vivek Oberoi, a bollywood star, has to say on Sabarimala. His views are at
And the views of Mr K P Anil Kumar during a talk show on Mathrubhumi channelon 20 Oct 2018 on the subject  Kaval kondu kaaryamundo? Your representative Mr Mohanan was also a participant.

17. Strictly speaking when a democraticlly elected government loses the faith of the majority it is required to demit office and not cling on to it claiming that they have been elected for 5 years and taking advantage of the absence a law to recall elected representatives. If the argument is that the ayyappa devotees and their supporters do not constitute the majority then the challenge is to prove it by calling for mid term elections.

Yours truly,

P M Ravindran
26 Oct 2018

from: Ravindran P M <>
date: Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 9:58 AM
subject: 100 days of governance!

Coming events cast their shadows before them!

These 100 days have been disappointing.

The reduction in the number of personal staff, though notional, was welcome. One cannot understand why ministers should have more than 3 assistants as personal staff.

The decision to do away with police escort doesn't seem to have been implemented.

The attitude towards citizens' right to know what their government is doing is totally unacceptable.

The Kerala State Information Commission is defunct. Not that it needs additional information commissioners to be appointed urgently. What is needed is to ensure that the available information commissioner does his job in the letter and spirit of the law. In fact the loss to the exchequer due to information commissioners not imposing the mandatory penalty can be more than the 2G, Coalgate and Vadragate put together. While the defaulting information commissioners are liable to be prosecuted under Sec 219 of the IPC no such action has been ever taken by the concerned authorities. Or should we take it that the role of all public servants is only to cheat and loot the public?

To cut the story short, the only hope I had when you took over the reins of government was that the onus was on you to provide meaningful and purposeful governance if your party has to retain the toe hold it has in this nation. It seems you are not yet alive to this responsibility.

Hoping for better days!


Remembering the above quip in the context of the events that have unfolded in Kerala during the last week, post the Sabarimala verdict of the apex court on 28 Sep 2018, is not just coincidental.

It was a 4:1 judgment of a bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, himself. The majority opted to rule in favour of a cosmetic notion, touted as gender equality. Cosmetic, because the restriction in Sabarimala is not a matter of gender discrimination as girls below 10 years of age and women above 50 years of age are permitted and they have been visiting the temple since ages. And, more importantly, there are more fundamental issues which are required to be viewed from the point of gender discrimination.

In our country women have been demanding 33 percent (I wonder why only 33 and not 50 percent) reservation in Parliament and state legislatures for many, many years now. And, shouldn’t such reservation be there in the judiciary too? 

In fact the very composition of the Constitution bench needs to be challenged on this ground of gender discrimination.

The only woman member of the bench had given a dissenting judgment which is acclaimed by even many former judges and legal luminaries as a more balanced and acceptable one in a plural society like ours.

Various reports in the media, sharing views by legal experts tend to suggest that there is an apparent conflict between Article 25(2) (b) and Article 26 of the Constitution.

Article 25(2)(b) mandates the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. But Article 26 provides the right to every religious denomination: (a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; (c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and (d) to administer such property in accordance with law.

The conflict is apparently in identifying Hindu religious institutions of a public character and religious denomination.

Just because public are allowed to visit a temple it doesn’t mean that it is a public place, like, say a park or a theatre. (In fact couldn’t the Chamber of the CJI be considered to be a public place being funded by the tax payers’ money? Well, I can almost hear some legal pundit shouting blasphemous!)   

Coming to denomination, here are a few definitions of the term from various dictionaries/thesauruses.
*(Theology) a group having a distinctive interpretation of a religious faith and usually its own organization- Collins English Dictionary
*A class of persons or things distinguished by a specific name-Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary
*A set of the same persons, called by the same name and therefore of the same views.-Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms
*Religious group, belief, sect, persuasion, creed, school-Collins Thesaurus of the English Language
*A religious group that has slightly different beliefs from other groups that share the same religion- Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus

I am sure that we need not leave it to the judiciary to give any new meaning to this term. (Remember how the judges did that to the term ‘consultation’ used in Article 124(2) and usurped the powers of the President to appoint judges?)

By no stretch of imagination can the temple of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala be considered a public place nor can the rights of the denomination of Ayyappa devotees to manage its own affairs in matters of religion be abrogated.

While on these two articles of the Constitution, one glaring inequality, nay, blatant discrimination, needs to be highlighted.

While the rights under Article 26 is provided to every religious denomination, the mandate of Article 25(2) (b) is to throw open Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus only.

Now even hard core rationalists cannot deny that if any change has to be made it is to be made for Article 25(2)(b) by making it non-religion specific.

Coming to matters of equality, the apex court itself needs to answer some simple questions with respect to its own functioning.

One, forgetting the lack of equality in the number of women judges in our courts, do the courts treat the litigants themselves as equal? Here, let us not forget that it is the litigants who are the raison d'etre of the judiciary.

Two, what have the judges been doing to reduce the massive back log of cases which have reduced justice to a farce in our courts?

Three, given that the judiciary is only another organ created by the Constitution, why is it that the judiciary has long vacations that are not available to the other organs?

An article dated 23 May 2014 in Live Law had the title: Justice Delivery System Working 365 Days; Pressing Needs of the Indian Judiciary. And this was not the author’s imagination taking wings. It was a need articulated by the then CJI while addressing the legal fraternity during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the building for Rajasthan Bar Council at Jodhpur. But the only requirement projected by him to enable this was to improve the judge to population ratio by increasing the number of judges to at least 3 to 4 times the present strength.

I will hold anybody who talks of judge to population ratio instead of the judge to case/docket ratio as incompetent to be a judge at all. I have with me a Power Point Presentation, authored by Adv KTS Tulsi, on the subject ‘Justice Delayed in India’ for a program of the Supreme Court Bar Association on 24 Aug 2004. Here are some statistics presented by him:
Cases filed in one year (1999): India - 13.6 Million (13,668,073); USA- 93.81 Million
Docket’s per judge: India - 987; USA- 3235
He had quoted these figures to demolish the judge to population ratio quoted by Malimath in his report.

The judiciary is also known to propagate another preposterous theory- that even if the judgment is wrong it has to be complied with. Is there any wonder, that the crime rate is increasing the way it is and people are taking law into their own hands? Even advocates, quite often, seem to prefer to take to the streets rather that pursue the judicial process.

Coming back to Sabarimala, while there is no room for doubt that the present situation is the creation of the apex court, the role of Pinarayi Vijayan led government in Kerala in handling the events have been no less abominable. In the name of enforcing the judicial order the police, driven by the government, has been almost on a murderous spree. Devotees protesting peacefully on the routes to the temple have been brutally assaulted and photographs of them being lathi charged, bleeding profusely and dragged through roads have flooded social media. The rampaging police, in riot gear, and some doubted to be even hired or party hooligans in uniform, can be seen wantonly kicking and hitting with lathis, parked vehicles and causing them unwarranted damage. A few hundred cases, some even non bailable, have also been registered against protestors. Rahul Easwar, a strong defender of the faith and the rituals and a peaceful protestor, was arrested and allegedly taken to the police station wrapped in a tarpaulin. He was apparently given third degree treatment by the police and is currently admitted in the Medical College Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram with a slip disc in the spine.

Interestingly there were no devotees from the newly permitted age group who visited Sabarimala during the five days from 17 to 22 Oct 2018 when the temple had opened for the monthly rituals. The intelligence agencies had warned the state government of terror outfits and naxalites exploiting the opportunity for nefarious reasons. But, as it turned out, it was the state government that arranged for a posse of about 250 police personnel led by an IG of Police to escort two women- Rehana Fathima, an activist notorious for her involvement in Kiss of Love protests that had rocked the State more than a year back, and Kavitha Jakkal, a Christian reporter based at Hydrabad- to the temple. Even while emotions ran high amoung the helpless devotees the police managed to take them up to 200 meters short of the temple. It was then that the employees of the temple also joined the protestors. Finally, the activists and their escorts had to retreat when the trustees of the temple and the thanthri, the ultimate authority on religious matters and the rituals of the temple, threatened to close the temple. There were a few other women too, mostly in the role of activists, who tried to use the opportunity provided by the apex court to visit the temple, but were dissuaded by the protesting devotees.

I cannot say if the apex court judgment in the hands of Pinarayi led Government can be compared to a bouquet of flowers in the hands of a monkey or a murderous weapon in the hands of a serial murderer. The fact remains that the fear of their rights related to their faith being violated was writ large and there were reports of protests from devotees even in far away Australia, Canada and the US of A.

In any case it is fact on record now that the Government did not do anything to avert the untoward events. The option to file a review petition was rejected in spite of the persistent demand from devotees ever since the judgment was out. It was almost as if Pinarayi Vijayan was taking it out on the innocent devotees his rabid hatred for Modi. The fact that he had been exposed in a 700 crore non promised aid from UAE and that the Union Government had denied permission to 17 of his ministers to visit foreign countries to seek help from non-resident Keralites for ‘reconstructing the flood ravaged state’ had also added to the grouse of the CM and consequent misery of the devotees determined to protect their faith and traditions.

If anybody thinks that Team Pinarayi cannot be faulted for their decision to enforce a court verdict there is a need to recapitulate how they had treated many a court verdict in the past.

When the apex court ordered closing of all liquor vends within 500 meters of the highways, the government downgraded many of them to enable their Beverages Corporation outlets to do business as usual. (Incidentally this also provided an occasion to expose how shoddy the record keeping of the public authorities were because the existing status of most roads were not even available.)

There was an order banning admission for medical courses in two colleges and the government went to the extent of issuing an ordinance to enable them to circumvent the court order.

There is an order directing handing over a church at Piravom from one faction to another. It has also not been implemented for more than year now.

The order on minimum wages for nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes also remains to be implemented.

Not only has the government led by Pinarayi Vijayan slept over these orders their reaction to the order banning triple talaq was that it was a challenge to the minorities.

And when there was an order to regulate the slaughtering of animals, the party cadres spread the canard that it was a ban on beef and went to the extent of conducting beef festivals even in colleges owned by the Dewaswam Boards.

Pinarayi Vijayan is leading the only Marxist party led government in the country. Apparently he and his ministers are themselves convinced that they will be the last communist ministers of this country.  That could be the only reason why they have taken their prime duty, of governance, out of their agenda.  More than two months after the floods there were reportedly 66 relief camps still in operation with 1848 persons in them. Even the meager compensation of Rs 10,000/- has not been distributed fully.

It was during the peak of relief operations that one of his ministers caused a controversy with a visit to Germany to participate in a social event. This was followed by the visit of the Chief Minister himself to the US of A for 21 days for treatment of an undisclosed ailment. Since reports of ministers being ill disposed are often reported by the media, speculation is ripe amoung the public about the nature of ailment which had taken the hard core Marxist, Pinarayi Vijayan, to the epicenter of capitalism in the world. The Lavlin scam, of the times when he had been the Electricity Minister more than a decade back, is still making the rounds of the courts.

And more recently, it was reported that the CM and 17 of the remaining 20 ministers were going abroad with paraphernalia of 190 public servants, to beg for aid from NRKs for the reconstruction of the flood ravaged state. One wonders that if during crisis the ministers can go on foreign jaunts, under whatever pretext, do the state need these ministers at all. It was thanks to the firm stand of the Union Government that only the CM could go (to the UAE). And he did it with his family at the cost to the already broke public exchequer.

The temple at Sabarimala has closed today after the monthly rituals. The peak pilgrimage season is just another month away. It remains to be seen how the lack of basic amenities and the controversies are going to affect the flow of devotees visiting the shrine from mid November to mid January. But the campaign not to offer any money or buy prasadams at Dewaswam controlled temples has already started making an impact. Hundis are getting filled with chits inscribed with ‘Swaminye saranam’ (the chant of Ayyappa devotees) instead of money. For those who are ignorant about culture and its values, it may not matter. But there is also a campaign to boycott lotteries, which, apart from its liquor vends, is the biggest source of income for the government.  Ultimately, citizens are learning where to hit and hurt.

Swami Saranam!

22 Oct 2018