The Congress party is exerting pressure on the Supreme Court. It’s done that before—successfully
Unhappy with Supreme Court decisions that went against their reservations agenda, the UPA government’s luminaries have ratcheted up their rhetoric casting aspersions on the motives of the judiciary. Taking an unprecedented shortcut (one that is unavailable to its legal opponents) the government secured the Chief Justice of India’s intervention in the case.
Arjun Singh, the human resources development minister, expects a “just and compassionate face of justice”, implying the court’s decision was neither, and oblivious to the possibility that the two may be mutually exclusive. His party colleague, Digvijay Singh, was more direct in his remarks. He accused the court of bias against the ‘socially deprived sections’, by stating that he is not accusing the court of bias.
Such rhetoric is the thin end of the wedge. Many of us are too young to remember this, but exactly 34 years ago, another Mrs Gandhi was ruling the country. That Mrs Gandhi’s government too was implementing a progressive agenda that promised to improve the lot of the poor. Bank nationalisation, for example, would help alleviate poverty by allowing the poor access to sources of credit. Those that came in the way of the Indira Gandhi government’s “progressive” agenda—that ended up near-totally shackling up both economic and political freedom in India—were labeled as lacking ‘commitment’. And when the nation’s seniormost judges showed commitment to such things as the constitution and justice, they were superseded, and more ‘committed’ judges installed in their place.
Today there’s another Mrs Gandhi in power, and her government is driving yet another ‘progressive’ agenda. Her functionaries have begun questioning the commitment of the judiciary. Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to have it repeated on them.