Our present constitutional crisis

scales of justice

Historian Marc Bloch talks of a ‘Longue Duree'( long or protracted time) to describe an historical period where inherent contradictions of a socio-cultural system develop slowly,giving it almost a stagnant look.It can be characterized by certain common features.

I think the term may be applied also to a crisis,like our present constitutional crisis. CJI Ramana, yearns to tread the long and straight road,but is buffeted right and left by violent gusts from other wings of the state.

The President deplores judges appointing judges.Higher echelons of the government resound with objections to judicial over-reach and observations made by judges.Judges react with sobriety,pledge themselves to following rules of the game.But that does not placate people who want to forcibly change rules mid-play.

One wonders if after undermining all the high institutions those holding power are itching to train their guns on the last standing bulwark of democracy.

The CJI recently pleaded that the thousands upon thousands of undecided cases jamming all levels of the courts have inflicted the greatest sufferings on the common man.He points out the poverty of legal infrastructure and the vacancies in all levels of judiciary that cause so much and so unrelieved pain to the hapless common people.They gently prod the executive,esp.the Centre, to do the needful,but there is no indication of a positive response.Instead, there is a crescendo of rising annoyance and complaint.Can the king do wrong?—— is the implicit message.

The Courts desire keenly that the problem of legal infrastructure and inadequate strength of benches are addressed promptly.But little hope that there will be such celerity.

After all we survive and muddle on in a vastly unjust society with injustice in its every pore.The ruling classes thrive on such injustice that crushes the back of the common man.Prompt and even-handed justice will simply mean the crumbling of much privilege and evaporation of much unearned income and unaccountable power.

Rather they are peeved and alarmed that instead of following an unwritten agreement not to rock the boat, their lordships in their blindness seem to be doing the opposite.Hence the murmurs of concern and anger at what is being noised about as ‘the rot in the judiciary’!

Their lordships are reminding all they cannot compel the executive to act according to their command,only recommend certain courses of action to uphold the rule of Law.They trust there is a superior master whom all the separate powers of the state are obliged to obey.That master is the Law.But some people hold a radically different view,to wit,that the ultimate authority is power. Apparently both the alien Machiavelli and the native Kautalya subscribed to the same motto.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator


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