Saturday, January 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Law of contempt

IT refers to the honest observation made by Soli Sorabji, the Attorney General of India, that law of contempt in India does not permit the defence of truth, leading to self-censorship in the media. Our unjust law of contempt is thus the main deterrent in exposing judicial corruption ! Infamous Ramaswamy episode has bluntly exposed that the present mechanism of impeachment for removal of judges is totally insufficient, cumbersome and tends to politicise the judicial corruption. Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts have unlimited “contempt” powers which are obstructive of fundamental rights of a citizen.

Judicial activism and corruption must be effectively checked by giving adequate freedom to press and public to comment/criticise judges and judgements. There should be a publicised authority where a citizen may complain about judges of even the Supreme Court and High Courts without any fear of contempt. Rules may provide adequate action against guilty judges. Is our “law of contempt” not a ‘law of jungle’ where a person of the status of judge is unduly privileged to decide for his/her own alleged insult? It was shameful to note that the highest circulated daily of the capital of the biggest democracy of the world i.e. The Hindustan Times once had to publish repeated apologies because it once published a factual story on practising wards of sitting High Court judges in the same High Courts! In fact, to avoid effects of local relations and intimacy of locally appointed judges with their former bar colleagues, every judge of High Court must be from outside his/her home state.


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Modified pension formula

Haryana was the first state to implement the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission for its employees and it also implemented the same formula of pay fixation, calculation of average pay etc., as was adopted by the Central Government for the purpose of pension for those who retired between January 1 and September 30, 1996. But now lately the Central Government has revised the pay fixation formula as per recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission realising that the earlier formula discriminated against those who retired between January 1 and September 30, 1996, and have directed its pension sanctioning authorities to revise suo motu the pensions of this group of retirees without calling for fresh applications from them, by taking into account DA up to Consumer Price Index Level 1510 as on January 1, 1996, instead of the actual DA drawn during this period for which pay was drawn in the pre-revised scale plus the national increase in basic pay for applying the fitment benefit of 40% to bring the effected pensioners at par with pre — 1996 and post — 1996 retirees.

The Haryana Government is requested to adopt the Central Government revised pension formula extending the same benefit to the corresponding category of its pensioners who are greatly disadvantaged at present.



TADA shape

The reported move by the Government of India to introduce TADA-like Bill is a resounding slap on the face of democracy in India. Even the British never introduced such draconian measures during all the years they stayed in power which our so called “democratically” elected politicians have in mind for the citizens of India. Can the Home Minister give any guarantee that such laws will not be used against innocent citizens? Obviously, none whatsoever.

First of all, the politicians need to stop looking at every problem as a law and order situation. When there is a murder or robbery that is a law and order problem but when there is ground support for people who have the courage to stand up against the tyranny of the present day system, irrespective of its name, democratic or otherwise, it cannot be dismissed as such.

As John F. Kennedy said, “when you make peaceful protest impossible, you make violent agitation inevitable.” Such groups have to resort to violence because the system of justice, as practised in India, has let them down.

The response of the powers in Delhi has always been the classic ostrich type behaviour in response to any such movement. Raising of more reserved forces and giving them a free hand to loot, rape and murder the people of the state, whether it is Kashmir, Punjab or North East. However, it needs to be borne in mind that brute force has its limitations and it inevitably boomerangs. Violence shall breed more violence and if the state of affairs continues, India will erupt into a million volcanoes and the people, who carried out this policy as well as those silently acquiesced in it all shall be to blame.

The boundaries of a state are not sacrosanct but the human life is. It needs to be remembered that when it is considered acceptable to forswear the latter for the sake of the former, the former is doomed. A nation is built on the aspirations and the moral strength of the people and cannot be maintained on the basis of brute force only.

In USA, people are members of all sorts of societies where they come together and make it an effective way to keep their legislative representatives in check. Let it be practised so in India too. Alone, none of us can stand up to the corruption and indifference of the state but together we can and this is the only option left, other than armed opposition, to save this country.

Tejinder Brar


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