Accountability and Power- The Path to Justice

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“Justice without power is inefficient; power without justice is tyranny.” This quote by Blaise Pascal surprises us with how relevant it has become in the current scenario. To define a just society, we are really seeking some combinations of order and power, which we call just. Saddam Hussain’s rule in Iraq and Pervez Musharraf’s move to dismiss the Pakistani judges and the US disregarding UN conventions and attacking Iraq are all examples of how power, if not held accountable, can create havoc and destruction in massive proportions. Another victim of tyrannical power is Aung Suu Kyi under detention, with the Burmese junta repeatedly extending her detention.


Closer to home, the attack on the Golden Temple is a scar on the face of India as it is a classic example of powers sans accountability. Where Commissions have come up with recommendations, they have been ignored and not implemented. India’s real problem is the lack of a suitable political instrument. The need today is for Indians to seek power for changing India and making it a just society. Not just in India, but across the world, we see examples of how institutions and so called ‘authoritative’ bodies are ignored and their decisions interpreted at the most, as ‘advice’, not binding on the country’s Government, and certainly not to act as a deterrent.


There have been numerous cases wherein the United Nations and the ICJ’s verdicts are ruthlessly ignored and violated by countries such as the United States. Power sans accountability inevitably breeds corruption and abuse. The Judiciary enjoys enormous respect and credibility in India. People look towards it for realization of their dream of democratization of the Indian society.


The Courts, especially High Courts and the Supreme Court have also come forward and have enunciated “public interest” jurisprudence. In PIL’s, the courts allow a wider scope of locus standi for the petitioners under Article 32 of the Constitution. The courts are the sentinels and interpreters of the Constitution. It is their duty to ensure that our fundamental rights are not violated. Their judgments become law of the land.


Sadly, corruption has seeped through in the higher judiciary as well. Three Karnataka High Court judges were involved in a brawl in Mysore .Several instances of female litigants being molested by the judges themselves have come out in the open. Recently, when it was considered whether judges should disclose their assets, it was shocking when even the Chief Justice did not seem too enthusiastic. Today impeachment remains the only option, since the judicial system has insulated itself from criminal investigation.


The problems with the higher judiciary, however, begin with the process of appointment itself. Quite apart from the fact that the method of selection of judges itself is defective, the entire process is kept under a cloak of secrecy. Thus, before an appointment is actually made, the general public does not have any idea about who are the candidates being considered for the post. Changing the method of recruitment of judges can restore the prestige of the judiciary. The concept of seniority should always be followed during appointment of judges and further, judges should be made to realize, that they are not above the law, but fall under the Rule of Law.


Smita Rajmohan



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