For the Nehru-Gandhi clan, there are no rules. Laws and institutions can be restructured to suit the whims and requirements of the dynasty
By Balbir Punj
A horribly black day,” bemoaned the country’s respected seniormost advocate Fali Nariman in a statement about the Congress’s move to work out a joint attack with seven other parties to get CJI Dipak Misra impeached by alleging partisanship towards the Centre, among other things including “forgery”.
The CPM, now firmly under its re-elected-against-odds General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, is part of the group that had signed for impeachment.
On the Congress benches in the Rajya Sabha, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is the significant absentee. On why Dr Singh refused to sign, there is only what we journalists call “informed speculation”. Even Nariman does not know. Pointing out that in our system the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the Constitution, and not Parliament, the great jurist says that bringing forth such charges against the chief justice amounts to “destroying the Constitution”.
Certain observations of the jurist are worth considering in the public domain. Those of us who value democracy, respect the sanctity of the Constitution and believe in the principle of separation of powers must re-read Mr Nariman’s view, which I have paraphrased: Every judge in the SC now becomes vulnerable to determined government pressure to support it in cases which have grave political implications. The judge may expect the government to bring impeachment charges against him and to avoid this he might probably give a verdict in the government’s favour.
There is a reason for making the Rajya Sabha the first test floor of such a serious move as impeaching a Supreme Court judge. The Lok Sabha can be swayed by the prevailing political wind, but the Rajya Sabha, whose vote will not affect the stability of the government, is expected to be more neutral and free from political considerations.
Even so the House of Elders would not be behaving as expected of elders if it even discusses such a flimsy charge of “forgery” by the CJI without a shred of evidence. And if they do so, what precedent will it set? Enterprising and unscrupulous litigants and rent-a-cause activists would be emboldened to charge every judicial officer—from a magistrate to a Supreme Court judge—with similar charges and thereby upset the entire judicial system of the country.
Way back in the 1940s, when an overwhelming majority of the Congress wanted Sardar Patel to become the first prime minister of independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, an aspirant for the job, refused to accept the majority opinion, manipulated Mahatma Gandhi’s support in his favour and grabbed the high office.
In 1959, disregarding the opinion of several important colleagues, Pandit Nehru installed his daughter, Indira Gandhi, as Congress President. Mrs Gandhi too had this “sense of entitlement”. She first picked up her younger son Sanjay as her successor, and after his tragic demise in a plane crash, passed on the baton to her surviving elder son Rajiv. She saw no merit in anyone else in the party.
In 1975, when the Allahabad High Court struck down her election to the Lok Sabha on charges of using corrupt electoral practices, Mrs Gandhi responded by imposing Emergency (which meant a burial for democracy) and changing the concerned laws, which with retrospective effect, legitimised her election!
The message was clear, there are no rules for the Nehru-Gandhi clan. The rules and institutions, instead, could be restructured to suit the whims and requirements of the dynasty.
The power structure in Lutyens Delhi, however, has since undergone a massive transformation. For the first time in the history of independent India, a completely non-Congress government is in office, with a comfortable majority.
For once, different organs of the state have broken free from the vice-like stranglehold of the dynasty and its tentacles—the vast network of vested interests nourished with state freebies over decades. Institutions, on which the edifice of a vibrant democracy stands, are now answerable to the Constitution and not to a privileged caucus.
In this changed ecosystem, those with a sense of entitlement (dynasty and its beneficiaries in academia, media and the legal system) obviously feel dispossessed and “insecure”. Hence doubts about EVMs, distrust of Election Commission, questions about surgical strikes, mistrust in the office of the vice president and now lack of confidence in the institution of the chief justice.
For the Congress, dynasty is central to their existence. For Communists, it’s ideology, dictatorship of the proletariat. During World War II, while the country was busy participating in the Quit India movement, the Communists were getting paid for spying on freedom fighters and demonising national leaders such as Gandhiji and Netaji. They actively collaborated with the departing British and Muslim League in the vivisection of the country and the creation of a theocratic Pakistan.
Since Independence, they have been working to break the system from within, for they have no faith in the country or the Constitution under which it is run. The latest Congress shenanigans offer them with one more opportunity to pursue their insidious goal.
The writer is Former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issues
Courtesy: New Indian Express