Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Judges! no sermons please

The other day judges hearing a contempt of court case, initiated suo moto by them, against a political leader, Jayarajan, were reported advising the accused not to play to the galleries and commenting that they were contemplating yet another contempt of case against him for speaking to the press on a matter under consideration of the court. The arrogance and presumptions would be obvious to all those who have their thinking faculties intact. So I had written an open letter to these judges and the contents are reproduced below for your comments.


I  am writing this open letter in response to a report under the title ‘Kaiyyadikku vendi kalikkaruthennu kodathi‘ (Do not play to the galleries: Court) in the Mathrubhumi daily of 11 Jun 2011. This report by itself actually makes one wonder if Jayarajan is after all right.

The first question that arises is : if politicians aren’t the ones to play to the galleries, then who is? In the same vein the next question that follows is : what are the judges doing giving such unsolicited, unwarranted advices?

As per the report, you have declined to  show some video clips, that you have viewed as part of evidence, to the accused. Needless to say, it flies in the face of probity. Can there be a greater threat to justice than declining to  show the accused what evidence you are relying on to judge him?

Again, while advising Jayarajan that he should have sought re-examination instead of going to the press how come you yourself have gone to the press saying that you are contemplating contempt of court proceedings against him for talking to the press on a matter that is being heard by the court?  That you have not gone to the press but the press had come to you will certainly not wash.

In fact, I am one of those who have realised that our justice delivery system needs to be overhauled lock, stock and barrel. And mine is not a lone voice. This is what the Report Of The National Commission To Review The Working Of The Constitution says: 'Judicial system has not been able to meet even the modest expectations of the society.  Its delays and costs are frustrating, its processes slow and uncertain.  People are pushed to seek recourse to extra-legal methods for relief.  Trial system both on the civil and criminal side has utterly broken down.' Also, 'Thus we have arrived at a situation in the judicial administration where courts are deemed to exist for judges and lawyers and not for the public seeking justice'.

I am entirely with Aravind Kumar, Jurist and lawyer, who in 'Needed high speed legal redressal' (Pioneer, Kochi,01 Aug 2006) wrote: 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.

I shall conclude by quoting John Marshall, Chief Justice of US Supreme Court, who had rightly said: "Power of Judiciary lies not in deciding cases, nor in Imposing sentences nor in punishing for contempt, but in the trust, faith and confidence of the common man". The common man in India knows it too well too and that is why one often hear people praying that they should be blessed to pass through this life without entering a police station or a court!

Yours truly,

(P M Ravindran)

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