An ominous sign for democracy

By Santosh Bhartiya

There are questions that never get resolved. As usual, on the eve of Diwali, talks were rife on increasing pollution level in the Capital; children were asked by schools to refrain from bursting fire crackers, while their parents bought crackers for them. Strange thing happen this year. Though the volume of bursting crackers was less, the pollution level soared up. It means some pockets have witness greater number of firework. However, this poses a bigger question. The Supreme Court has prohibited sale of firecrackers in the national capital region, but the way they were fired on Diwali night – though in off-and-on manner and with hesitant bursts – suggests that the Supreme Court order was brush aside by the people, except a minuscule number of people who abide by the decision. Despite Supreme Court’s order crackers were sold. A few FIRs were lodged against some dealers, but those were not enough to affect sale. Fire cracker were sold openly everywhere in the NCR. Next day TV channels were showing more and news of the national capital and less and less of the NCR. Reporters had a field day showing pollution level from separate locations in the capital.

The question bobs up as to why people ignored the Supreme Court’s order? Why this fact is more important to the Court than it is for me. It is government’s (state’s as well as center’s) responsibility to execute the Supreme Court’s decisions. If they give a cold shoulder to the court’s decisions, then there is no meaning of those decisions. The Supreme Court needs to deliberate over it, because its credibility is at stake. The Supreme Court needs to pay attention on this especially because its credibility is waning and its impact is on the decline. Similarly, if the governments or administration refuse to accept the court’s verdict, then what power does the court have to get it decision implemented? In fact, the Supreme Court too is to be blame a bit for this. Take the Supreme Court’s verdicts concerning states and the central governments over a period of 20 years. As a matter of fact the governments did not execute at least 40 percent of those decisions. They end up being mere written words on paper, and never put into effect. The Supreme Court too has never monitored as to what happened to it decisions; whether they have been executed by governments or not.

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If the Supreme Court’s decision is not affectively implemented by the State Governments and the Central Government, then it means that our democratic system is cracking. When I say that the Supreme Court should look inward, I mean to say that the more the judges become friendly towards politicians, seen with them, accompany them in parties, or look for post retirement plans for themselves, the more they have to see Diwali crackers sale ban like situations.

The three organs of the democratic system have equal responsibilities, but the role of the judiciary is a little more than the other two. The Constitution has given the judiciary the right to review any decision and make its own decision, which can be overruled by parliament only through constitutional amendment. Otherwise the decision remains effective. But if the Supreme Court judges look back at their record of last 40 or 20 years, then they will find a lot of their colleagues were accused of corruption, indulged in internal bickering, and a few of them faced impeachment as well. In all these conflicts, the Supreme Court has kept losing its credibility. People make up their own mind of vis-à-vis the Supreme Court, and these things led them away from the social and political fabric of the country embedded in the Constitution. Perhaps for this reason, the governments increasingly have started exploring the ways and means to put the Courts decision aside and they also were aware of the fact that the Supreme Court did not have much time to analyze the methods of implementing its decisions.

The political system carried on its shoulder the greater responsibility of how to make justice cheaper. For this the first responsible institution is the Supreme Court. It should have devised or suggested ways and means in this regard, but right from independence no effort has been taken so far from the court. It is a well-known fact that there are lawyers in the Supreme Court who charge a hefty amount of Rs 40 lakh to fight a case. It is not the question whether that money is accounted or unaccounted. The question is they are such expensive lawyers and if they do not appear in the court, the Supreme Court’s judges will not pay attention to the case. However, the Supreme Court still remains the last hope for the people of the country. In order to knock the door of the Supreme Court to get justice, they sell their houses, property, ornaments, etc. When they return home they get justice by losing everything. And then begin their ordeal when the governments or administration refused to execute the verdict of the Supreme Court.

This conflict and this pain is the pain of our system. The work that should be done by governments is now being done by the Supreme Court. When I invoke the Supreme Court it means I question the entire justice system. People have no resource to challenge high courts’ decisions in the Supreme Court. Politicians use the judiciary to fulfill their own interests. The recent example is from Gujarat where a court prohibited media from reporting Jai Shah Case. Is it a matter related to related to the national security that cannot be reported in the media? However, this is a verdict given by the court. The High Court should abrogate it. The Supreme Court is silent. Now should we believe that decisions are pronounced on the basis of friendships or on political influence? This may not be the truth but people think so.

Therefore, if the Supreme Court wants to get its decisions executed, then it should maintain a fair distance from the politicians and influential people. It should keep in mind that the judges remain impartial and pronounce its judgment keeping people’s interests and the constitution in mind. This will also enhance their credibility and they will be able to question the governments and the administration in case their decision is not implemented. Our last hope is still the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.

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