The candid observations made by the Supreme Court judges while acquitting Balbir Singh in the Indira Gandhi assassination case, prompted Justice S.K. Desai of the Bombay High Court to mount a blistering attack on the degeneration that was fast eroding the credibility of India’s judicial system. As an honest judge of more than twenty five years standing, he fully shared the Supreme Court judge’s legitimate concern that “the lower courts had acted under pressure and the case against Balbir Singh was concocted and the evidence produced worthless.” Justice Desai lamented that the “country’s leadership had emasculated the judiciary to such an extent that the common people had no hope for redress.” It is now an acknowledged fact that the judiciary in India was under tremendous strain because of political pressures and corruption ridden police and bureaucracy.

The process of subverting judiciary and subordinating i it to the will and whims of the rulers was initiated by Late Indira Gandhi immediately after the famous Allahabad judgement that unseated her from the Parliament and disqualified her for six years from contesting elections. Instead of pursing legal remedies available to her, she retaliated by amending the constitution with retrospective effect and nullified the adverse judgement. Not feeling entirely content and safe with the amendment, she floated the concept of a “committed judiciary.”

Under the pretext of a committed judiciary (a phrase borrowed from the dictionary of her Communist masters in Moscow) she intended to restructure judiciary so as to make it totally subservient to the executive. “Committed judiciary,” in Communist parlance, means that the judicial system should serve to promote and perpetuate the political ideology and judges should be more concerned with upholding the ideology than administering justice. It is a concept which precludes fundamental rights and envisages that individuals must exist and function solely for the ideology and not vice versa. Since Indira Gandhi had no commitment except to herself, her definition of “committed judiciary” did not stretch beyond protecting her own interests. She, however, sensed that the climate was not congenial enough to bulldoze her will. She, therefore, proceeded to corrupt the judiciary by appointing only such judges as felt no compunction in submitting to the dictates of the rulers.

With the result that by and large Indian judiciary today is manned by persons who have literally mortgaged their conscience to the devil, who twist and transgress the laws at the bidding of their political bosses. With the advent of Rajiy Gandhi, its integrity has nosedived to the lowest point. He has institutionalized corruption. With him corruption has become an integral feature of the Congress (I) culture and will, in all probability, be formally adopted as the national emblem if Rajiv is again returned to power in 1989 elections.

The way Win Chaddha and his son were honourably exonerated by a Delhi judge despite a plethora of incriminating evidence against them, only unmasked the distressing state of the judicial process, but dropping of charges against Ajitabh Bachchan for his flagrant violations of the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act has demonstrated the total bankruptcy of the rule of law in India. Evidently, Rajiv and his associates are not ordinary mortals and are not subject of ordinary laws. Though in the constitution it is recorded that all Indians are equal, Rajiv and company are more equal.

Laws in India apply differently to different people. The Politico economic status and religious affiliations determine the quality of justice. For the man in the street, justice is a distant hope. But for members of the minority communities like Sikhs and Muslims, it is a mirage that grows more elusive and intangible as they pursue it, Justice Desai deserves to be congratulated for his forthright denunciation of the prevailing rot.

More and more voices must join him to make the shrill crescendo of protests effective enough to evenly balance the scales of justice for everybody, irrespective of caste, colour, creed, sex and economic status.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 16, 1988