21 October, 2020

A Gavel In The Voting Ring

The government has taken a tempered position so far even as the Opposition’s knives are out

Carpe Diem
A Congress press conference after the one by the Supreme Court judges
Photograph by PTI
A Gavel In The Voting Ring

A portrait of Justice Hans Raj Khanna hangs in Court No. 2 of the Supreme Court—the same that Justice Jasti Chelameswar now occupies. In 1976, at the height of Emergency imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, the legendary Justice Khanna was the sole dissenting voice on a five-­member bench as he went against her in a case involving civil liberties. “What is at stake is the rule of law,” he had observed. “The question is whether the law speaking through the authority of the court shall be absolutely silenced and rendered mute.” This is believed to have cost him his promotion to Court No. 1, that of the Chief Justice of India.

Forty-two years later, Justice Chelameswar, flanked by three other seniormost judges Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph—occupying courts 3, 4 and 5 respectiv­ely—pointed out that “things are not in order” in the top court and that democracy is in danger. He claimed that the four of them didn’t want wise men to say, 20 years from now, they had “sold...



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