Fish rots from the head down. It is a known fact. The whole fish will have clear eyes with bright red colour. When its eyes lose its brightness and the red colour, it is understood that the rot has set in it. Soon it will start stinking and will no more useful for consumption. So is the case of democracy. When it starts stinking, corrective measures should be take to stem the rot.
When the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented move, held a press conference and issued a statement saying they were “left with no choice” other than to communicate to the nation about the ‘less than desirable things’ happened in the last few months, for the first time since independence, higher judiciary and the overall functioning of judicial system came into public glare. The debate that followed has given an opportunity to the media as well as the common masses to say loudly that all is not well in the judiciary.
Without going into the merits and demerits of the grievances aired by the four senior-most Supreme Court judges against the role of chief justice of India, one can certainly say that lack of transparency in the administration of justice or at least such an impression among the citizens will pose a threat to democracy itself. Issues within the judiciary should be sorted out within the judiciary with mutual understanding in a transparent way.
The latest controversy surrounding the apex court definitely raises certain other issues such as top judicial officers eying post-retirement political postings. The appointment of former chief justice of India Justice P Sathashivam as Governor of Kerala by the Modi government became a tipping point. The appointment of Justice Sathashivam apparently has raised hopes among people occupying high positions in the judiciary, like the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and they desperately started a search to ‘know which side of one’s bread is buttered’.
Apparently in his pursuit to be seen as on the right side of the ideology of people who are in power, one judge in Rajasthan recommended declaring cow as the national animal and cited benefits of cow urine and cow dung while disposing a 2010 PIL on a government-managed cow shelter. The judge also said peacock does not have sex and the peahen gets pregnant drinking the tears of the peacock! Similarly, recently the country witnessed how the 2G scam case collapsed like a pack of cards in a trial court raising serious questions about the CAG VK Rai, who came up with the theory of huge loss to the exchequer. There are numerous other instances to cite.
There is no bar against a former judge taking up a job right after retirement. However, the trend raises many questions about the independence of judiciary itself. Hence, the issue needs to be considered whether anyone holding top positions be it in the judiciary, CAG and other such constitutional positions must be barred from taking up post-retirement jobs at least for a period of three years.