During early days I used to think “ah, if only I were Sherlock Holmes”! Which was my idea of being invincible.
Now I say “god, let me be born a judge in a higher court in India.”
There is no better ticket to absolutely unchallengeable freedom, even as I would have the satisfaction to send all sorts of wicked people to their just deserts. And they could include Sherlock as well.
But this thing called democracy—it is such an unthinking leveler; India is now engaged in an uninformed cacophony that demands that judges should be accountable as well. Not realising that they are accountable to each other—the most testing form of accountability. Just as atheists must answer to their own conscience without help from divine intent, or other forms of remote control.
They say Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion, but they do not specify who is Caesar, who the said Caesar’s wife. After all, there are hardly any wives on the bench. Only Caesars.
They say if those that make the laws declare their assets to the nation, surely those that merely adjucate laws should do the same—a clear instance of where mechanical applications of low-level reason can take you.
Ask them if the requirements of fairplay could be served if everyone in the land knew what a judge possessed? God we say owns all of creation; so judges must be understood to possess and own all of justice, no? Which is why the good book says “judge not lest ye be judged.”
After all, faith is not faith if it asks proof. The highest form of faith is that which commands unquestioning submission. Ask Asa Ram Bapu than whom no greater saint exists.
It is only when judges know that they can never be questioned—after all, only litigants and witnesses are meant to be questioned—that they can deliver justice without fear or favour. It is those that at bottom desire favour who ask to know how a judge got what he got, because then he can the better know how to try to give. Why else should anyone desire a judge’s assests to be made as public as anyone else’s? Only to suborn the justice system.
The more clever ones do what they always do—refer us back to America.
After all, you do love America and everything about it; so why not accept that in America judges are appointed after severe grilling by the Senate and the media. Before a judge gets appointed, the good American gets to know everything about the appointee.
As if such knowledge advances by a jot the quality of justice in that land of the brave. Ask the Hispanics and the African Americans.
In India, we are both brave and sagacious. Our accumulated wisdom coming down from long long ages before anyone had ever heard of America teaches us that men must be spared as much of the truth as possible. Truth is simply not everyone’s kettle of fish. Think of the storm currently underway on the subject of a reality show that invites people to tell the ugly truth about themselves.
In India we have always known, for example, that homosexuality pervades both our holy books and our human history. But, for that reason, how smart is it to say so in public, or to decriminalize such ugly adult behaviour? And what were carpets made for anyway?
Similarly, so what if there is a judge here and there who likes a bit more than he rightly gets. Do we therefore go about saying so, or make laws to restrict such behaviour? And how do we know, as ancient wisdom teaches us, that the next man may not be smarter? Which is why again the good book says “be content with thy lot.”
Just what does democracy and suchlike have to do with justice, after all? The fact is that god in his wisdom placed us in unequal situations, and the demand for equality of this and that is what brings god’s unfathomable purposes to grief.
Tell me, have we ever made the demand to know how sundry godmen have come by their assets? Then why discriminate in the case of judges, who after all are also secular godmen charged with the onerous responsibility to set us to rights, all for our own good.
I say, therefore, let a stop be put to this mob-like clamour for judges to be made transparent so that judgements are made transparent as well. Which is why I support the Bill that the government of the day means to bring to parliament, mandating that judge’s assets be known only to the chief judge, and not made available to any authority, least of all the people in whose name the Constitution was made and who are designated the true sovereigns of the realm.
This Bill will make it clear that between the word and its meaning must fall the shadow of sagacity.
Not suffused with the deep mysteries and conundrums of our philosophical traditions, western democracies suffer the consequences of always wishing to marry words to their meanings.
As a result they get the transparency and the justice they deserve, while we know man lives neither by bread alone nor by probity alone.
It is karma that rules what lives we live and what assets we accumulate. And if judges are obliged to nobody’s vote, why should just anybody get their goat?
A judge is a judge who can, if pressed to come clean about himself, as Moses did God in Exodus, return the answer “I AM THAT I AM.” And then roll out in stupefying awe, the tablets of the Law. Can the law have majesty and the judge none at all?
Please let us not thus be such mindless sticklers for democracy. When we flounder in cacophony we can only be rescued by unimpeachable impunity.