When a Member of Parliament states openly that ‘We are here to change the Constitution,’ the Judiciary pretends to be deaf. When a politician says that ‘the country should become a Hindu state’, the Supreme Court does not consider it as a challenge to the Constitution or the Judiciary itself. The Judiciary has never recognized as contempt of court several statements challenging democracy and Constitution on Facebook and Twitter. But the moment a senior lawyer and thinker out of concern issues a statement on Twitter about the state of the Constitution and the Judiciary, immediately the court registers a suo motu case and initiates action against him. The country has witnessed allegations that “Leaders in office are progressively killing the Constitution and are purchasing the Judiciary”. But, in the ‘Contempt of Court’ case against Prashanth Bhushan, we should perhaps be anxious whether the Judiciary is on a suicidal path.
Prashanth Bhushan’s tweet is as follows: “When historians in the future record how democracy was destroyed in the past six years without officially declaring a state of emergency, they will recognize the role of the Supreme Court and specifically, the role of four Supreme Court Judges.” In this tweet, more than committing an act of Contempt of Court, he expressed his anguish over the weakness of the Judiciary. When the Judiciary, which is expected to play the most significant role in protecting democracy, loses its sense of purpose and direction and when the Government tries to control it, Constitutional experts and thinkers have come out and supported the Judiciary by taking on the Government. This is not a recent development and has been the case right from the days of Indira Gandhi to the present days of Narendra Modi. When Indira Gandhi imposed emergency, the Judiciary supported the people. It was even responsible for sending Indira Gandhi to jail. When the government misused its power, people approached the Judiciary as a last resort. It is therefore important that even if the government becomes directionless, the Judiciary should not lose its way. Whenever the Judiciary has failed to discharge its responsibilities, it has dealt a blow to the Constitution. If a democratically elected leader adopts a dictatorial stand repeatedly, it means the Judiciary has not been performing its duties adequately. Bhushan has expressed these views in his tweets.
Not only Prashanth Bhushan but several leaders and thinkers have also expressed anguish that the country is facing an undeclared emergency. Compared to an emergency that is declared officially, an undeclared emergency in the guise of democracy is more dangerous. In such a situation, governments start taking decisions citing the Constitution, but the decisions are anti-Constitutional in reality. This is exactly what is happening in the country. If the Judiciary is forthright and is committed to the Constitution, such a situation would not have been created. Allegations that Judges are looking away from the Constitution and are issuing orders to please the rulers are being heard all over the country. Many orders issued by the Judiciary are very confusing and weak and are being discussed extensively in the public domain. The number of Judges with an attitude that the orders of the court must be accepted irrespective of whether they are in accordance with the Constitution and based on evidence are increasing by the day. In such a situation, if the country has been subjected to a state of undeclared emergency, then the Judiciary must take complete responsibility. If Prashanth Bhushan issues a warning, how does it amount to ‘contempt of court’?
Some time ago, a few Judges of the Supreme Court had openly criticized the Chief Justice in a press conference. This revolt in the Supreme Court was discussed extensively in the country. But, it was not considered as ‘contempt of court’ and cases were not filed against them. The person who convened the press conference subsequently became the Chief Justice. But Prashanth Bhushan did not humiliate the Judiciary in this manner. If a senior lawyer does not have the freedom to express anguish over the country’s democracy in a tweet, doesn’t it mean that this country is in a state of ‘undeclared emergency,’ as Bhushan stated? A Judge who gives himself a clean chit over allegations of sexual harassment, a Judiciary that hesitates to speak up against the government when people’s fundamental rights in Kashmir are completely repressed, a Judiciary that hesitates to clearly speak up about the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, and a Judiciary that makes sure that it scuttles investigation into the Rafale deal. These are some examples that show that the Judiciary is not in favor of the people but is out to please the government. Bhushan has been repeatedly speaking against these developments. People are now left to wonder if he has incurred the wrath of the Judiciary merely because he has been a critic of the present government and an effective human rights activist. Such public skepticism does not augur well for the health of a democracy. If Bhushan is punished, then the concept of freedom of expression itself would appear farcical. The day is not too far off when the entire country will turn into a prison if every act of criticizing the government is considered seditious and if every demand for justice is treated as contempt of court.
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Shirur: Shirur’s non-resident businessman and managing trustee of Green Valley National School, Manegar Meeran Saheb, who has made tremendous contributions towards the development and upliftment of his native has been chosen as the recipient of the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award for the year 2020.
For over four decades, Manegar Meeran Saheb has worked in Gulf nations and rendered service to uphold the Kannada language and his homeland by prioritizing and contributing to several organizations that were focusing on developing the Kannada language and Kannadiga people. He has contributed to the educational, social, cultural upliftment of the Kannadiga people, despite living abroad.
He has actively engaged and contributed to Kundapura Kannada Gulf Organization, Shirur Association, and several organizations in this regard. Apart from contributing to the organizations abroad, Meeran Saheb has also organized awareness drives and camps in various parts of Karnataka, while also helping hundreds of poor families in the state.
This is the first time that an individual from Shirur is set to be conferred the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award, the trustee of Green Valley Institute has contributed enormously to the development of Shirur by providing services such as Ambulance, Garbage trucks to the city.