news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30

Keerthi Prakasam| The News Minute| July 22, 2014| 9.30 am IST

Is the judiciary in Indian free, fair and run independently? Time and again, the judiciary, the nexus between politicians and judges have come under the scanner. Former Supreme court judge Justice Katju's blog on the same has thrown up more questions than provide any answers. Katju too points at parties in Tamil Nadu and their proximity to judges. This is not the first  time that parties in the state have been accused of fiddling with the judiciary.

A blog, written by senior journalist Kalyan Arun in the New Indian Express back in 2009, points out the unholy nexus between politicians and the judiciary, especially in Tamil Nadu.

In the blog, Arun says that an impeachment motion was on against Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court for financial delinquency while he served as the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The motion was defeated, thanks to his political connections, the blog says.

In 1991, around 108 members of the Lok Sabha from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Left parties and also members from the National Front jointly served a notice of motion against Ramaswami.

But even then, the Congress under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi came out in support of Ramaswami. A group of Congress MPs, along with Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao personally met the Speaker Rabi Ray requesting him not to allow the motion, the blog says.

But despite this the notice did come up and a committee was set up to enquire about the charges. Amidst all this, Congress withdrew support to the then governing Chandrashekhar government, after which the Lok Sabha was dissolved.

The caretaker government now refused to address the case saying that the notice lapsed since the Lok Sabha has already dissolved. By then in Tamil Nadu the case was being projected as the targeting of a Tamil judge by the “non-Tamils”, and AIADMK was one of the major players in this movement, the blog says.

The motion, even though it came up again during the Narasimha Rao government, a committee found that Ramaswami’s actions brought ‘dishonor and disrepute to the Judiciary’. A defiant Ramaswami, just questioned the credibility of the committee’s findings.

A year later, when the motion was taken up in the parliament the Congress was divided on the issue and most MPs from the south wanted the motion to be defeated. Finally when the motion came up, Kapil Sibal, the Congress leader spoke for six hours in the house and reasoned out why removing a judge for purchasing ‘few carpets or suitcases’ seems ridiculous. Finally this was the motion’s result- Yes -196, No -0, abstentions-205.

The blog says that Narasimha Rao instructed all the Congress MPs to abstain from voting, which they did. 

The motion failed, Ramaswami remained untouched.

Later, in 1999 without much surprise people witnessed Ramaswami contesting a general election on the ticket given by Jayalalitha’s AIADMK from the Sivakasi constituency, but lost out to Vaiko.

In the blog, Arun adds another connection that Ramaswami might have had with the AIADMK, his son Sanjay Ramaswami was an AIADMK MLA from 1991-96.

Yet another instance when the judiciary in Tamil Nadu came into scanner was in 2009 when Justice PD Dinakaran's elevation to the Supreme Court as a judge was axed by allegations of corruption and land grabbing. Later, he was transferred from Karnataka High Court to Sikkim High Court. Dinakaran resigned in 2011.

However the allegations against Dinakaran were serious- Huge rural land holdings, illegal appropriation of government and public land amounting to land grabbing, illegal constructions and ownership of urban properties. He was also accused of using political connections to get favours, good postings.

Then there was the case of Madras high court Judge, Justice S Reghupathy who had an outburst in an open court. In 2009, Justice Reghupathy revealed that a minister had threatened him on a case pertaining to the minister's friend. At a later stage it was exposed that DMK minister A Raja was the one who had called the judge. In spite of the furore, Raja denied all allegations and life went on as normal.

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