Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Justice Lahoti, the former Chief Justice of India, when contacted by some media people about my statement which was published on my blog and in Times of India yesterday, generally remarked that he has never done anything wrong in his life. He has not gone into any specifics, so let me put him some specific questions :
1. Is it , or is it not, correct that I first wrote him a letter from Chennai, stating that there were serious allegations of corruption about an Additional Judge of Madras High Court, and therefore he ( Justice Lahoti ) should get a secret intelligence enquiry held against that Additional Judge,and thereafter I personally met Justice Lahoti at Delhi and again requested for a secret IB enquiry against the Additional Judge about whom I had received several complaints, and from several sources, that he was indulging in corruption ?
2. Is it, or is it not, correct that on my request Justice Lahoti ordered a secret IB enquiry against that Judge ?
3. Is it, or is it not correct, that a few weeks after I personally met him in Delhi and then returned to Chennai, he telephoned me from Delhi ( while I was at Chennai ) and told me that the IB, after thorough enquiry, gave a report that indeed the Judge was indulging in corruption ?
4. Is it , or is it not, correct that after receiving the adverse IB report against the Additional Judge, Justice Lahoti, who was then Chief Justice of India, called a meeting of the 3 Judge Supreme Court Collegium, consisting of himself, Justice Sabarwal, and Justice Ruma Pal, and the 3 Judge Collegium, having perused the IB report recommended to the Government of India not to extend the 2 year term of that Additional Judge ?
5. Is it , or is it not, correct that after that recommendation of the 3 Judge Collegium of the Supreme Court was sent to the Government of India, he ( Justice Lahoti ), on his own, without consulting his 2 other Supreme Court Collegium colleagues, wrote a letter to the Government of India asking the Government to give another 1 year term as Additional Judge to the concerned Judge ?
6. If indeed the IB reported, after an enquiry, that the Judge was indulging in corruption, why did he ( Justice Lahoti ) recommend to the Government of India to give that corrupt Judge another term of 1 year as Additional Judge in the High Court ?
Some people have commented about the timing of my statement. What happened was that some Tamilians had commented on Facebook that I am posting several matters on my Facebook post, so I should also post some of my experiences in Madras High Court. Then I started posting about my experiences there, and it was at time I remembered this experience too, and posted it.
Sunday, 20 July 2014
There was an Additional Judge of the Madras High Court against whom there were several allegations of corruption. He had been directly appointed as a District Judge in Tamilnadu, and during his career as District Judge there were as many as 8 adverse entries against him recorded by various portfolio Judges of the Madras High Court. But one Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court by a single stroke of his pen deleted all those 8 adverse entries, and consequently he became an Additional Judge of the High Court, and he was on that post when I came as Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004.
That Judge had the solid support of a very important political leader of Tamilnadu. I was told that this was because while a District Judge he granted bail to that political leader.
Since I was getting many reports about his corruption, I requested the Chief Justice of India, Justice Lahoti, to get a secret IB enquiry made about him. A few weeks thereafter, while I was in Chennai, I received a call from the Secretary of the CJI saying that the CJI wanted to talk to me. Justice Lahoti then came on the line and said that what I had complained about had been found true. Evidently the IB had found enough material about the Judge’s corruption.
Since the 2 year term as Additional Judge of that person was coming to an end I assumed he would be discontinued as a Judge of the High Court in view of the IB report. However what actually happened was that he got another 1 year appointment as an Additional Judge, though 6 other Additional Judges who had been appointed with him were confirmed and made permanent Judges of the High Court.
I later learnt how this happened. The Supreme Court Collegium consists of 5 seniormost Judges for recommending names for appointment as a Supreme Court Judge, and 3 seniormost Judges for dealing with High Courts.
The 3 senior most Judges in the Supreme Court at that time were the Chief Justice of India, Justice Lahoti, Justice Sabarwal, and Justice Ruma Pal. This Supreme Court Collegium recommended that in view of the adverse IB report the Judge should be discontinued as a High Court Judge after his 2 year term was over, and this recommendation was sent to the Central Government.
The Central Government at that time was the UPA Government. The Congress was no doubt the largest party in this alliance, but it did not have a majority in the Lok Sabha, and was dependent on support by it allies. One of such ally was the party in Tamilnadu which was backing this corrupt Judge. On coming to know of the recommendation of the 3 Judge Supreme Court Collegium they strongly objected to it.
The information I got was that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was at that time leaving for New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly Session. At the Delhi airport he was told by the Ministers of that party of Tamilnadu ( who were Congress allies ) that by the time he returns from New York his government would have fallen as that Tamilnadu party would withdraw support to the UPA ( for not continuing that Additional judge ).
On hearing this Manmohan Singh panicked, but he was told by a senior Congress minister not to worry, and he would manage everything. That Minister then went to Justice Lahoti and told him there would be a crisis if that Additional Judge of Tamilnadu was discontinued. On hearing this Justice Lahoti sent a letter to the Government of India to give another term of 1 year as additional Judge to that corrupt Judge, ( I wonder whether he consulted his two Supreme Court Collegium members ),and it was in these circumstances this corrupt Judge was given another 1 year term as Additional Judge ( while his 6 batch mates as Additional Judges were confirmed as permanent Judges ).
The Additional Judge was later given another term as Additional Judge by the new CJI Justice Sabarwal, and then confirmed as a permanent judge by the next CJI Justice K.G. Balkrishnan, but transferred to another High Court.
I have related all this to show how the system actually works, whatever it is in theory. In fact in view of the adverse IB report the Judge should not even have been continued as an Additional Judge
Labels: Madras High Court
Saturday, 19 July 2014
I was Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in 2004-2005. Some Tamilians have requested me to write something about my experience there on facebook.
When I received the order of the President of India appointing me Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004 I was at Allahabad as Acting Chief Justice of that Court.
I telephoned the Madras High Court and spoke to the Acting Chief Justice, Justice N.Dinkar. Since I was reaching Chennai on Friday at about 1 or 1.30 p.m. I asked him to request all brother and sister Judges of the Court not to come to the airport to receive me, as it was a working day, and it would not be proper to abandon their Courts at working hours. I remembered reading the autobiography of Chief Justice Chagla of Bombay High Court, who wrote that when the Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court, Earl Warren, came to Bombay during Court hours of the Bombay High Court, Chief Justice Chagla sent the Registrar of the High Court to the airport to receive him. After Court hours Chief Justice Chagla went to see Chief Justice Warren, and apologized for not personally coming to the airport to receive him as it was court hours. Chief Justice Warren then told Chief Justice Chagla that he acted rightly, and in America the Judges do the same.
I was told that there was a practice in the Madras High Court for all the Judges coming to the airport to receive the new Chief Justice even during Court hours, but I thought that this would not be appreciated by the public, as they would think the Judges are doing sycophancy of the Chief Justice. I told Justice Dinkar that the Judges were welcome to meet me after Court hours at my residence. Accordingly, only lawyers and the Registry officials received me at the airport.
The Judges came to meet me at my residence after Court hours, and we had long talks. I told them they would never need an appointment to meet me, and, unless I was otherwise engaged, could meet me at my residence or chamber whenever they wanted to, and I said the same to the officials of the various lawyers associations.
I was given a warm welcome by the bench and bar in a function and dinner.
At that time the High Court had a sanctioned strength of 49 Judges ( it is now 60), but there were only 26 incumbents, and some more retirements were to take place soon.
A bench of the High Court had recently been created in Madurai, and the rules required that at least 5 Judges should sit there.
Now Madurai was a small town as compared to Chennai. All Judges wish to stay in big cities as there are better educational and job opportunities for children in big towns. So no Judge wanted to sit for long in Madurai. I remember receiving a telephone call from a Judge sitting in the Madurai bench who started crying over the telephone, and said that the previous Chief Justice had posted him in Madurai without his consent, and he had been there for 3 months and had developed blood pressure. I told him that if he could wait for a few days i was going to create a system, after consulting all Judges, about sitting of Judges in the Madurai bench ( till then there appeared to be none ).
I constituted a committee of the 3 senior most judges to consider the matter and give me their report at the earliest. This report was then placed before the Full Court of the High Court, and broadly confirmed. Under this system, 5 Judges would go to Madurai for 2 months, and on their return, the next batch of 5 Judges would go. But I never posted any Judge without taking his consent. After all, a Judge may have personal problems which made it difficult to leave Chennai at a particular time. I also told the Judges that if any of the 5 Judges sent to Madurai had an emergency which required him/her back in Chennai before his 2 month posting was over he could inform me and I would personally go and replace him for the balance period.
Before going to Chennai I had spoken on telephone to Justice Venkatachaliah to seek his blessings, as I have always regarded him as a father figure. He told me that in Madras I must give respect to each and every one of the brother and sister Judges.
Unfortunately, many Chief Justices of High Courts treat brother and sister Judges as subordinates. I am told about one Chief Justice that he would sometimes telephone a brother Judge at 10 p.m and tell him, without taking his consent, that he had to sit next day in some distant bench, for which a flight had to be taken the same night or early next morning. To my mind this was not proper. The Chief Justice is only first among equals, and not a headmaster.
Following the advice of Justice Venkatachaliah, I always gave respect to brother and sister Judges. I told them that we are one family, their problem is my problem, and vice versa. I would never compel a Judge to sit in Madurai, or do something, without taking his/her consent.
Justice Venkatachaliah also gave me another invaluable advice. He told me that many Chief Justices think that their main job is administrative, and they neglect judicial work. This was a fallacy. He said that the main job of the Chief Justice was to give leadership to the Court on the judicial side, by giving outstanding judgments. Following this advice i delegated almost all administrative work to committees of brother and sister Judges. After all, they were local people who knew about Madras High Court, whereas I was a stranger. Also, this relieved me of administrative work so that I had more time to write judgments.
One of the first things which was done by me was to constitute a 3 judge committee to allot lawyers chambers in the new building which had been built for this purpose, but for some reason was lying unoccupied for 3 years. The committee of Judges did an outstanding job, and within two months chambers were allotted to lawyers in accordance with a rational system.
As I mentioned before, almost half the posts of Judges in Madras High Court were lying vacant when I came to Chennai, and they had to be filled in. I was determined to have good judges in the High Court. After all, an institution is really the human personnel who are manning that institution. A High Court is not the beautiful building of the Court, or the green lawns or colourful curtains. A High Court is the Judges who are manning it, they should be first class people.
Although under the decision of the Supreme Court in the Judges Case only the Chief Justice and 2 seniormost judges of the High Court were to recommend names for appointment, I requested the first 12 judges in seniority to give me a list of lawyers they thought deserved to be elevated, and I also consulted about 5 or 6 very senior lawyers. Some names were common in many lists, but enquiries were made even about them. In this way after about 2-3 months daily excercise a consensus of 20 names emerged, and I recommended these. I told the Chief Justice of India, Justice Lahoti, about the methodology I had followed, and said that none of these persons recommended had any connection in any manner with me. So it was now entirely upto him to accept them or reject them.
I must say to the credit of the then Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalitha ( who is also the present Chief Minister )that she never interfered in this process, and never pressurized me to recommend any name for Judgeship, nor did she ever interfere with judicial functions in any manner.Throughout my stay as Chief Justice there was never any problem, as she respected the independence of the judiciary.
I regret that I cannot say the same about another political party in Tamilnadu, who, through their representatives put tremendous pressure on me to recommend certain names for Judgeship whom I found to be totally undeserving. Some of these persons were never even seen in courts, though technically they were enrolled as lawyers. These were obviously party men of that political party which wanted to pack the Madras High Court with its men., but I refused to succumb to this pressure.
I had taken an oath to myself that I would do my duty to Madras High Court, although my parent High Court was Allahabad High Court. The maximum punishment which could be given to me was to refuse to make me a Supreme Court Judge, but I was prepared for this punishment, and would do my duty to Madras High Court, come what may.
On receiving my 20 recommendations the Supreme Court Collegium approved 17 of them, which was a record. But the same political party which sought to pressurize me would not let these appointments go though, and ultimately it was on a P.I.L. by the Madras High Court Advocates Association and an order of the Supreme Court that those appontments of 17 Judges was made, which was a record for Madras High Court. These Judges had been carefully scrutinized by me and my Collegium members before recommending them, and I am happy to note that most of them have justified my expectations.
I will write more about my experiences in Tamilnadu in subsequent posts, but I would like to add here that the people of Tamilnadu throughout my stay there gave me great love and affection, for which i will be ever grateful.
Labels: Madras High Court
I have banned several persons who made impertinent or abusive comments on my previous post. I am quite a democratic person, and I do not mind people disagreeing with me, but I will not accept impertinence or abuse. And why should I ?
All I had said was that no atrocity or oppression should be committed on any one, whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or of any community. Whenever any atrocity was done on Muslims, I was perhaps the first person in the country to condemn it, and my track record can be seen in this connection. But I had also noticed that very few Muslims condemned atrocities on Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis, Shias, etc in Pakistan, Kashmir or Bangladesh. To that I strongly objected.
I remember when I was in Allahabad, I told a Muslim friend that I have always stood by Muslims whenever there was any atrocity on them, so why are Muslims not speaking out against the horrible atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir ? He asked what could he do ? I replied he can write a letter to a local newspaper against it, which I would get published, but he did nothing.
I know about the persecution of Kashmiri Pandits because I am myself a Kashmiri Pandit, and my wife and her relatives are from there. Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits were selectively killed. Kashmiri Pandits were only 3% of the population of Kashmir, and were not doing any harm to any one. But it often happened that if in a village of Kashmir there were , say, 1000 people, of which only 20 or so were Pandits, a group of persons with fire arms would come and selectively kill these 20 Pandits. This happened on many an occasion. One of my wife’s cousins, who is a doctor in Delhi, told me that when she was studying in a Medical College in Kashmir, a group of people came to her home and shouted that the males in her family should get out of Kashmir, leaving the females behind. There were many such other stories of horror against Pandits of Kashmir, due to which they had to leave their homes and hurriedly leave Kashmir. Many of such Pandits and their families are still living in camps in Jammu, Delhi, etc in horrible conditions. Instead of condemning such atrocities many Kashmiri Muslims blamed Jagmohan for the mass migration of Pandits from Kashmir, which was a total lie. They should have blamed themselves for failing to protect the tiny Kashmiri Pandit community.
No one wants to leave his home, where his family has lived for generations, and this itself proves what horrible things were done to Kashmiri Pandits, but because it is a tiny community with no vote bank, nobody bothered. Hardly any Muslim raised his voice against these atrocities, or on atrocities on non Muslims, Ahmadis etc in Pakistan. Hindu girls were forcibly abducted and converted to islam, Hindus were often kidnapped and held to ransom. Blasphemy laws were applied against Christians, who were sometimes killed, and few lawyers dared to take up their case, as those who did were often killed. Hardly any Muslim in India raised his voice against these atrocities, but when people in Gaza were attacked they raised a big hue and cry.
I am not saying one should not raise his voice against atrocities on people of Gaza. What I pointed out was that Kashmir and Pakistan are nearer to India. Surely Muslims in India should have also protested against atrocities on non Muslims and Ahmadis in Pakistan and Kashmir. I saw photographs in the newspapers of demonstrations by Muslims in many cities in India against atrocities in Gaza, but where were the demonstrations by Muslims against atrocities on non Muslims and Ahmadis in Pakistan and Kashmir ?
As I said, secularism cannot be a one way traffic. All atrocities on everyone should be condemned.
However, I am prepared to unban those I banned provided they apologize unconditionally. They can send a message on my facebook page, or send an apology through some other computer. By nature I am quite a forgiving person
Friday, 18 July 2014
India is perhaps the only country in the world which conquered large parts of the world without sending a single soldier ! This was due to Buddhism, and Emperor Ashoka, who got converted to that religion after the battle of Kalinga, and sent missionaries to many places. China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Tibet, Kazhakstan, Tadjikstan, Uzbegistan, Indonesia,etc. all became Buddhist. This was really marvellous !
In Japan I saw hundreds of Buddha statues, e.g. the Kamakura Buddha, which is huge. In Bangkok I saw the golden Buddha.
I have never been to China ( except Hong Kong, which I visited a few times ), but I have with me the book ‘ The Quest of the Buddha : A Journey on the Silk Road ‘ by Sunita Dwivedi ( wife of my friend Rakesh Dwivedi, senior advocate, supreme court ) which is a remarkable book, describing Sunita’s journey in much of Asia, where she found thousands of Buddha statues.
Of course Hinduism also spread to many parts of Asia. Bali, where I went a few years ago, is Hindu, and the famous Khmer city of Angkor Wat in Kampuchea ( Cambodia ) shows Hindu influence. Even in Indonesia, which is largely Muslim, many people have Hindu names, and the Indonesian Airlines is called ‘ Garuda ‘
When Napoleon’s army crushed the Prussians at the battle of Jena in 1806 and conquered Germany ( which was then not one united nation ) the German philosopher Fichte ( 1762-1814 ) wondered what could have been the cause of such a monumental calamity.
He found it in the lack of nationalism and patriotism in the German people. In his famous ‘ Addresses To The German Nation ‘, a series of 14 lectures he delivered in Berlin between 1807-1808 Fichte pointed out the way of recovery to the German people.
In one of his speeches he said :
” Hence the noble minded man will be active and effective, and will sacrifice himself for his people. Life merely as such, the mere continuance of changing existence, has in any case never had any value for him, he has wished for it only as the source of what is permanent. But this permanence is promised to him only by the continuous and independent existence of the nation. In order to save his nation, he must be ready even to die, so that it may live. ”
The posts I have been putting up on Facebook and on my blog may, similarly, be regarded as Addresses to the Indian Nation. Their whole purpose is to tell the Indian people what they are ( see my article ” What is India ” on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in and the website kgfindia.com ), why we have fallen behind Western nations, economically and socially, and how we can and must rise again as a powerful, highly industrialized nation, providing a high standard of living and welfare for our masses
Thursday, 17 July 2014
Mimansa Rules of Interpretation
This is the story of the discovery of the Mimansa Rules of Interpretation.
Rules of Interpretation are very important in law courts. When the British came to India they introduced the principles of interpretation of Maxwell, laid down in his classic treatise ‘Interpretation of Statutes’ and these principles are broadly still being followed in our law courts in India.
However, our ancient thinkers had created a system of interpretation called the Mimansa Rules of Interpretation, which appears to have been totally suppressed by the British, evidently because they wanted to create an impression that Indians are a race of fools and savages with no worthwhile intellectual achievement to their credit.
I, too, did not know about the existence of our native system, until I discovered K.L. Sarkar’s book ‘The Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’.
Prof. Sarkar’s book was published in 1909 in the Tagore Law Lectures volumes. Prof Sarkar had delivered 13 lectures at Calcutta in 1905 in the Tagore Law Lecture series. Those lectures were collectively published in 1909, as a book entitled ‘The Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’. It is easily the best book in English on the subject (the original texts on Mimansa are all in Sanskrit). Surprisingly, no second edition of the book was ever brought out, and may perhaps never have been brought out, but for my meeting at Delhi with Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah (former Chief Justice of India) in December 1991, that is, shortly after I had been appointed a puisne Judge of the Allahabad High Court, and he was a puisne Judge of the Supreme Court.
In this meeting, which was only a courtesy call on my part. Justice Venkatachaliah told me that while a Judge of Karnataka High Court he regularly visited a Sanskrit Scholar in Bangalore to learn the Mimansa Principles of Interpretation.
Before this meeting I had never even heard that there was such a thing as the Mimansa Principles of Interpretation. Of course as a student of Philosophy at Allahabad University I had heard of a school of Philosophy called Purva Mimansa, (which is one of the shatadarshanas or 6 classical schools of Indian Philosophy) but my teachers had not taught me that there is a whole system of interpretation in this school (probably they, too, did not know about it).
On returning to Allahabad after meeting Justice Venkatachaliah I read P.V. Kane’s monumental work ‘History of the Dharmashastras’, in which there is a discussion on the Mimansa Principles in Volume 5, Part II, Chapter XXX. Reference has been made there about K.L. Sarkar’s book, and hence I started searching for it. I visited library after library, but could not find the book. Ultimately with the permission of my friend late Prof. A.K. Shukla (then dean of Law, Allahabad University) I visited the Allahabad University Law Library. With great difficulty I traced out a copy of Sarkar’s book. It was covered with dust and in a dilapidated condition. Probably nobody had touched it for the last 70 or 80 years. I took this book home to read.
This was sometime in the month of May or June when it becomes very hot in North India. I had to turn off the fan to read the book since the pages were so brittle and yellow that even the pressure of the breeze generated by the fan would make the pages crumble. The pages had to be turned very slowly, otherwise they would break. Sweating profusely, I read the book in this manner.
On reading the book I realized I had come across a veritable treasure of knowledge lying unearthed which could be of profound use in judicial work. Principles of interpretation are very important in interpreting statutes and till then I had known only Maxwell’s book on ‘Interpretation of Statutes’ and other books which are all based on Maxwell’s work, e.g. the books of Craies, Crawford, Sutherland, G.P. Singh, V.P. Sarathy, Jagdish Swarup, etc.
On enquiries I learned that the greatest living exponent of Mimansa in India is Prof. Pattabhi Rama Shastry, a South Indian Scholar settled in Varanasi. He was then over 80 years of age. I took an appointment with him, and was about to travel to Varanasi for this purpose when I heard on T.V. that he had died. Fortunately his students, Dr. Mandan Mishra (now deceased) former Vice Chancellor of Banaras Sanskrit University, and Prof Vachaspati Upadhyaya, former Vice Chancellor of Lal Bahadur Sanskrit University, New Delhi (now also deceased) were alive and I contacted them.
I was very keen that a second edition of K.L. Sarkar’s book be published, as the existing copies were all in a dilapidated condition. I contacted many persons in this connection, but my efforts were all in vain. I remember contacting a Professor of Sanskrit of Mithila University to whom I said “Sir, you are from Mithila, the land of Raja Janak, the great philosopher king, and of Vachaspati Mishra, one of the greatest scholars India has produced. Please get a second edition of K.L. Sarkar’s book published”. He gave a positive response, but did nothing.
In the meantime I started using the Mimansa Principles in some judgments and I also wrote articles and gave speeches to revive and propagate the use of Mimansa Principles.
In this connection I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Ram Shanker Dwivedi, Senior Advocate of Allahabad High Court and former lecturer in Sanskrit in Allahabad University, who was of great help and guidance to me. Dr. Dwivedi is now over 90 years of age and holds a Ph.D in Sanskrit. My own knowledge of Sanskrit is fragmentary, and hence I regularly consulted Dr. Dwivedi for guidance.
My efforts in getting a second edition of Sarkar’s book published were ultimately successful when Modern Law Publication, Allahabad agreed to publish it. The problem, however, remained of getting a good copy of Sarkar’s book. In the dilapidated copy I had obtained from the Allahabad University Law Library about 60 pages were in such a bad condition that they were hardly legible. Dr. Dwivedi contacted Dr. Goparaju Rama, Principal, Ganganath Jha Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Allahabad who procured a good copy from India Office Library, London after great effort.
I, therefore, wish to acknowledge the help and kindness of all those involved in bringing out the second edition of this book Justice Venkatachaliah, Dr. Ram Shanker Dwivedi, Dr. Goparaju Rama, Prof. K.T. Pandurangi (Vice Chancellor of Purna Prajna Vidyapeeth, Bangalore), late Prof. A.K. Shukla and several others including the publishers.
I finally wish to bow down with reverence before the spirit of our great ancestors, the giants who created and developed the Mimansa system — Jaimini, Shabar, Kumarila Bhatta, Prabhakar, Parthasrthy Mishra, Shalignath, Shree Bhat Shankar, Apadeva, Madhavacharya, Vachaspati Mishra, Laugakshi Bhaskar, and scores (if not hundreds) of others who contributed in this field. (It is a pity that most Indians have not even heard of them). Reference must also be made to Dr. Ganganath Jha, former Vice-chancellor of Allahabad University who made a great contribution by translating many of the Mimansa texts e.g. Shabarbhashya, Shlokavartika, Tantravartika, etc. (which are all in Sanskrit) into English, which were published in the Gaekward Oriental series.
A fourth edition of Prof. Sarkar’s book has now been published which includes judgments I delivered in the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court using the Mimansa Principles.
My earnest hope and wish is that with the publication of the new edition the use of the Mimansa principles of interpretation will begin in our law Courts. If that happens, I will have the satisfaction that my efforts were not in vain.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Let me tell you two stories about what happened in my Courtroom in the Supreme Court.
The first story is about Mr Soli Sorabji, the former Attorney General of India. One day he appeared before me in Court in some case. Before he could begin his arguments I remarked : ” Mr. Sorabji, do you know what is your reputation? “.
He was at first a bit puzzled, but then enquired ” What is it My Lord ?”.
I said ” Your reputation is that you are a ladies man “.
He blushed, and then got on with his case.
In the evening he telephoned me and said ” Judge, you embarrassed me a lot today. When you made that remark in Court a lot of ugly looking women started staring at me, and I felt very uncomfortable “.
The other story is about Mr. Ram Jethmalani ( another ladies man ).
One day he was sitting in my Court in a corner of the Courtroom, waiting for his case to be taken up. Another lawyer was arguing a case, in which his client was accused of committing rape.
This lawyer argued that his client was 65 years old, so how could he commit rape ?
I replied that when I was a young lawyer in Allahabad High Court I one day asked a very senior criminal lawyer, Mr. P.C. Chaturvedi, at what age does the sex instinct die out ? He replied ” Any time between 30 and 80 ”
Having said that, I remarked ” And here is Mr. Ram Jethmalani, with vast experience in these matters ” ( Mr Jethmalani was then 85 or so, and now he is above 90).
At this Mr. Jethmalani stood up sheepishly and said ” I plead guilty, My Lord! ”
In my Court some lawyers pretended to be very learned, though they were not. I used to tell these lawyers that they were Ashtaavakra gyanis. At this they were baffled, and asked me who was Ashtaavakra ?
I would then tell them the story about Ashtaavakra.
When Ashtaavakra was still in his mother’s womb, his father, Kahod, was performing a yagya. From inside his mother’s womb Ashtaavakra pointed out to his father some mistakes he was making in performing the yagya. This made his father very angry, as he thought this boy has not even been born, and he is trying to teach me. So he cursed his son that when he will be born he will have 8 physical defects.
When Ashtaavakra was born he had 8 physical defects, his head was bent to one side, his legs and arms were twisted, etc ( in Sanskrit the word ‘ashta’ means eight, and the word ‘vakra’ means twisted ). However he became a very learned scholar.
Once it so happened that Raja Janak ( the father of Sitaji ) held a sabha in which he announced that whoever can tell him a method of getting moksha immediately will get half his kingdom.
Many learned scholars assembled there addressed the king. One said that to get moksha you have to stand on your head for 20 years, another said that you can get moksha by standing on one foot for 20 years with your hands clasped above you, yet another that you have to say “Shiva, shiva” for 20 years etc However, the king said that he was not prepared to wait for 20 years, and wanted moksha immediately.
Ashtaavakra, who was then only 14 years old, had also come to this sabha. He had been stopped at the palace gate by the kings’ guards,who at first refused to let him in, saying that he was only a boy, and so was unfit to attend such a sabha where very leaned pandits had come.
Ashtaavakra told them that there was a difference between a vayovriddha ( one who was only physically old ), and a manovriddha ( one who was mentally developed). The guards then let him in.
Coming into the sabha, and seeing that all the pandits assembled there had failed, Ashtaavakra then approached Raja Janak and told him that he could give him moksha immediately.
The king wondered how a mere boy could give him moksha immediately when all the learned scholars had failed. However, he told Ashtaavakra to go ahead and tell him the method of getting moksha immediately.
Ashtaavakra asked the king whether the necklace of gems and gold which the king was wearing belonged to him. Raja Janak replied that it belonged to the state.
Ashtaavakra then asked Raja Janak whether the palace with so much gold and so many jewels embedded in it belonged to him. The king replied that it belonged to the state and not him.
Then Ashtaavakra asked the king whether the 10,000 cows near his palace belonged to the king. The king replied that they belonged to the state.
In this way Ashtaavakra kept asking the king whether such and such thing belonged to him, and to every question the reply was that it belonged to the state.
Ultimately Ashtaavakra asked the king ” O king does anything in the world belong to you ? “. On hearing this question Raja Janak fell into a swoon, and collapsed on the ground.
When he got up, he said “Nothing belongs to me”
Ashtaavakra then said ” O king, you have attained moksha”
Once it so happened that coincidentally Holi and Muhaaram fell on the same day.
Holi is an occasion for joy, while Muharram is an occasion for sorrow. The Hindus in Lucknow, which was the capital of Avadh, the kingdom of the Nawabs of Avadh, decided not to celebrate Holi that year out of respect for the sentiments of their Muslim brethren.
The Nawab, Wajid Ali Shah, took the tazia from the Bada Imambara in Lucknow to Kerbala and buried it there. Then he enquired why Holi was not being played. He was told the reason.
Then the Nawab declared that since Hindus had respected the sentiments of their Muslim brethren, it was the duty of the Muslims, too, to respect the sentiments of their Hindu brethren.
Having said this he proclaimed that Holi will be celebrated the same day throughout Avadh, and he himself was the first to start playing Holi, although it was Muharram.
This is the kind of approach all Indians should have.
Labels: Wajid Ali Shah
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