Wednesday, October 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The Bar’s independence

The Supreme Court of India has held that the lawyers found guilty of contempt of court cannot practise even after serving a jail-term unless they are permitted by the court. If they start practising without the court’s permission, they will again be guilty of the offence under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

Last month two organisations of lawyers, including the committee of Judicial Accountability, had passed a resolution that the law of contempt in India as currently interpreted by the superior courts was highly antiquated and acting as a serious impediment to the freedom of speech. According to the resolution, it is significantly deterring a free and frank discussion on functioning of the courts and the judiciary in India.

The resolution further said that the CCA is having the effect of rendering the judiciary beyond public criticism and thus rendering it totally unaccountable. With the impeachment system having practically failed and there being no other system of enforcing accountability of the judiciary, the discouragement of public discussion and criticism of the judiciary is bound to have a deleterious effect on the functioning of our democracy.

Section 35 of the Advocates Act, 1961, relates to the punishment of advocates for misconduct, and the State Bar Council can take cognizance of the alleged misconduct on the receipt of a complaint or even otherwise and is competent to reprimand the advocate, suspend him from practice for such a period as it may deem fit or even remove the name of the advocate from the State Roll of Advocates.


The offence under the Contempt of Courts Act is obviously “misconduct” as contemplated under Section 35 of the Advocates Act, and the Supreme Court has assumed the powers of the State Bar Council thereby upsetting the checks and balances required for maintaining the cordial and friendly relations between the Bench and the Bar. The legal fraternity must apply its mind for safeguarding its freedom of expression and independence.



Negligent doctors

The editorial “The kidney trade” carried on October 18 rightly has it that there is need for the medical fraternity and organisations like the Medical Council of India to take actions themselves to salvage the prestige of the profession.

I have been a (medical) doctor and a human rights activist for the last about 15 years with a focus on the right to health. I have observed in my long career as a government as well as private doctor that it is always the medical organisations like the PCMSA and the IMA that come to the rescue of the doctor-offenders without going into the merits of the case. I have often heard my doctor colleagues using the language of brotherhood to help the most notorious and negligent medical practitioners. The police and Health Department officials end up being their strong allies to protect them in lieu of bribe or other considerations. Justice eludes the victim, who is often a poor patient. This is also promoting the culture of financial greed out of helplessness of the victim, and abandoning long, tiring, expensive litigation for justice. This results in an increase in malpractices instead of improvement in the profession.

In the Bathinda case as mentioned in the editorial, the Indian Medical Association was the first to approach the district police chief in support of the guilty, knowing full well the track record of the accused doctors. It was reported that the IMA on the request of guilty doctors deliberated on the collection of money to give it to the complainant to hush up the case. The police registered the case after a prolonged agitation in the city by PSEB employees.

(Dr) VINEETA GUPTA, Bathinda

On the rampage at Taj

The conduct of the delegates who attended the golden jubilee convention of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha at Agra recently and visited the Taj Mahal was not at all in conformity with the required standards of decorum. Throwing to winds discipline and moral values, which the BJP declares to swear by, the delegates entered the unrivalled monument defying the rules and regulations and, as remarked in the fortnight editorial “On the rampage” (October 16), “engaged less in sightseeing and more in eve teasing, defacing the monument and making a nuisance of themselves”.

The Taj is a matchless memorial of conjugal fidelity and one of the wonders of the world. People from far-off places in India and other countries visit it. The delegates, besides indulging in other mischievous acts, indecently behaved with the female visitors, particularly foreigners. They were not just tourists but guests of our country. The delegates should have behaved like gracious hosts. What impression would the foreign tourists carry to their countries about the delegates?

The police personnel and other private security men deployed there stood as silent spectators to the scene created by the BJYM delegates, apparently because they belonged to the ruling party in UP.

It is a pity that no senior leader of the BJP has even slightly condemned the hooliganism indulged in by the delegates.


BJP’s worry

The BJP has acted wisely by replacing the Chief Minister of UP and Gujarat. Mr Rajnath Singh has started showing results in UP and one hopes that the damage in Gujarat will be checked to some extent by the new Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.

However, the greatest worry of the BJP is its dwindling popularity as the ruling party at the Centre. If the party is serious on restoring its image, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee should be replaced by some other dynamic leader. Mr Vajpayee has proved to be the biggest disappointment for his fans too. Good orator can draw crowds, but to think that he can be a competent executive or CEO of the country is a big fallacy. Further, Mr Vajpayee has neither age nor health on his side.


Counter Pak propaganda

Apropos of your report “Burning of secret files led to Pak fire”, in the wake of concerted propaganda by the Pakistani media and press against India, it is felt that our national dailies should also publish such articles on their front page. Agreed, there is limitation of space on the front page, but all the same, Pakistan’s propaganda war can effectively be countered by our national dailies in particular and the visual media.

One would like to assume that there is sufficient synchronisation between the dailies and the visual media. Immediate steps should be taken in national interest to resort to a “tit for tat” propaganda war against Pakistan on the same scale.

SANJEEV RANA, Chandigarh


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