Sunday 31 March 2024

The role of women in the judicial world

  I have been motivated to write this article by the judgments and speeches of Justice BV Nagarathna, Judge of the Indian Supreme Court, who is in line of becoming the Chief Justice of India in 2027, whom I greatly admire, and who dissented from the majority judges more than 3 times since her elevation to the Supreme Court ( and in my opinion correctly ).

Her career is given below :

 I was particularly impressed by her speech explaining why she dissented from the majority in Vivek Narain Sharma vs Union of India ( the demonetisation case).

I agree with her views about the role of the Governors of States under the Constitution, and her criticism of the way some Governors were behaving in India.

I was also impressed by her views on the abortion debate.

Her views about women's equality are also noteworthy, as also her decision regarding hate speech.

However, I hasten to add that I admire her not because she is a woman, but because she is a great Judge.

While I am happy that more women are entering the legal professinon as lawyers, I am not a supporter of having greater representation of women in the judiciary as a means of womens' empowerment. This may sound contradictory, so I may explain.

In earlier times a lawyer's career was regarded as unsuitable for women, and there were very few women lawyers. In fact for a long time in most courts in India under the relevant rules no woman was permitted to be enrolled as a lawyer, as a woman was not regarded as a 'person'.

 I remember when I started law practice in the Allahabad High Court in 1971 there was only one lady lawyer who would come regularly to the High Court. From time to time some other young woman lawyer would come to the Court, but she would disappear after a few months. When we enquired what happened to her, we were told she had got married. In other words, she had entered the profession just to while away time before marriage, and was not serious about it.

Today in almost all courts in India, from the district courts right upto the Supreme Court, about 8-9% lawyers are women. This is of course a far cry from the ideal of 50%, but it is a great advance over almost 0%.

The view that women are unfit for the legal profession is a myth. The work of a lawyer is mental, not physical. I.Q. ( Intelligence Quotient ) tests in modern psychology have proved that an average woman's I.Q. is the same as that of an average man. Hence there is no reason why a woman cannot be a good lawyer. 

However, when it comes to appointment as a Judge, in my opinion the sole criteria should be the merit of the person being considered, and his/her sex is wholly irrelevant. After all, lawyers and litigants are only interested in high quality justice, and not the sex of the person rendering such justice. If out of all persons being considered ( on the basis of their reputation and knowledge of law ) all are found to be men, then 100% of the judges in that court should be men. On the other hand, if all are found to be women, then 100% should be women. I am totally against applying the Women's Reservation Bill, which reserves one third seats in legislatures for women, to the judiciary.

Justice Nagarathna was selected for being a Judge in the Karnataka High Court, and in the Supreme Court, not because she is a woman, but because of her profound legal acumen ( as is evident from her judgments ), and high level of integrity.

- Justice Markandey Katju

Thursday 28 March 2024

JNUSU elections 2024

The leftists have swept the polls in the recent elections for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union elections.
This is being hailed as a great victory for the poor people of India.
But going by past experience one can safely predict that after leaving the JNU these 'revolutionaries' who have won the elections will in later life forget all about revolution and the poor people of India, and start thinking of building a career for themselves. Some 'revolutionaries' may end up in Congress, like Kanhaiya Kumar, former President of JNUSU, or like Shehla Rashid, former Vice President, who may join the BJP.
There is a long list of such turncoats who at one time were hero worshipped in JNU when they were students there, and reckoned as rising stars in the red firmament, and therefore the hopes of the poor people, but are today occupying cushy jobs/posts in the civil services, in the corporate world, in academia, in politics, and elsewhere, with fat salaries and perks, in India, or even abroad.
One is reminded of English poet Robert Browning's poem 'The Lost Leader'.

I have always had a poor opinion of Indian Universities, and I particularly regard JNU as a highly overrated.
I was once invited to speak in JNU, but I dont think the newly elected office bearers of JNUSU will invite me. They may fear I will speak about how history shows that most 'leftists' ended up as rightists, in India, and all over the world.

- Justice Katju

Sunday 24 March 2024

One Cannot Murder A Ghost!

 The Aam Admi Party has called the arrest of its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, as the murder of democracy in India AAP leaders have called for a nationwide protest against it, and some protests have taken placeOpposition leaders, such as Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerji, Akhilesh Yadav, Shashi Tharoor, etc, and a section of the media too are shouting themselves hoarse that arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal amounts to murder of democracy in India I am not going into the merits of the charges against Kejriwal, which principally relate to a massive liquor scam

However, in my opinion the question whether democracy has been murdered in India or not by this arrest arises only if we presuppose that there was democracy in India in the first place at all, or just a charade or a sham pretending to be democracy. 

As defined by US President Lincoln, democracy means government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Modern democracies cannot be government of the people. That was only possible in ancient times e.g. in Greek city states like Athens, where there was direct democracy. With the growth in population people cannot gather together in one forum and rule themselves. So it has to be a representative democracy.

As for government by the people, this implies that even if there is indirect or representative democracy, the leaders really represent the people, and hence can be equated or identified with the people, not just in the sense of being elected by them, but by working for their welfare, and securing them better lives.

Does this happen in India ? Not at all. Our political leaders only seek power and pelf, and do not have any genuine love for the people, nor really care for their welfare. To achieve power they polarise society on caste and religious lines, seeking vote banks, for which they incite and spread hatred, an activity in which they are experts. Is our 'democracy' for the people ? Again, the answer has to be in the negative. As stated above, our politicians work for themselves, or their kith and kin, not for the welfare of the people. This is evident from the fact that even 77 years after Independence, there is massive poverty, record and rising unemployment, appalling level of child malnourishment ( every second child in India is malnourished, according to Global Hunger Index ), skyrocketing prices of essential commodities like food, fuel and medicines, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, atrocities on minorities, etc.

So where is democracy in India, which is said to have been murdered ? One cannot murder a ghost, or something which does not exist.

- Justice Markandey Katju(retd)

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Secularism in India
While India claims to be a secular country, with a secular Constitution, the truth is that the vast majority of Hindus are communal, and so are the vast majority of Muslims ( though they may not say so openly ).One proof of this is that when Muslims are lynched or attacked in India only a minority of Hindus are horrified at this, while the vast majority
are indifferent, and many even approve of this as ' putting the Muslims in their place '. The same attitude would be of most Muslims in Pakistan when some atrocity is committed on Hindus there
Secularism is a modern value which arose in Western Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries with the growth of modern industry. But India is still backward,  semi feudal, and only partially industrialized.
After Independence the Congress party was in power for several decades. It professed secularism, but this was really for getting the Muslim vote bank in elections. Now with the BJP in power even the fig leaf of secularism has been removed.
Dark days are ahead for India

Monday 22 May 2017

Bhim Army
I have always condemned the atrocities and discrimination against dalits.
Nevertheless, I am against formation of a Bhim Army, BAPSA, or such other separatist organizations of dalits, as that is a serious mistake, and is against the interests of the dalits.…/articlesh…/58768048.cms
Such separate organizations of dalits only play into the hands of the rulers who want to divide and rule. Dalits must not isolate themselves, but should join hands with the enlightened sections of the upper castes and OBCs.
In America separate organizations of blacks like The Nation of Islam, whose leaders were Elijah Muhammed, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, etc, and the Black Panthers, etc failed to achieve anything
India must make one of two choices
Logically, India must make one of two choices now :
1. Continue recognizing Pakistan as a legitimate country by accepting the validity of the two nation theory ( i.e. that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations ) on the basis of which India was partitioned in 1947. 
If we excercize this option, we must logically hand over Kashmir to Pakistan since the overwhelming majority of Kashmiris were, and still are, Muslims. A single individual, the Maharaja, cannot decide the fate of a people.
2. Reject the two nation theory as bogus and reject the validity of that historical British swindle called Partition, in which case we must logically derecognize Pakistan as it is a fake, artificial entity, recall our diplomats from Pakistan, throw out theirs, declare to the world that Pakistan is part of India and must be reunited with it under a secular government, and withdraw from the United Nations unless it throws out Pakistan
Did President Abraham Lincoln recognize the Confederate States of America ?
Did President Ho Chi Minh recognize South Vietnam ?
Did China recognize Taiwan, and did it sit in the U.N. until Taiwan was thrown out ?
It is time we took the logical step

Saturday 20 May 2017

Jobless Growth
The expression 'jobless growth', which is sometimes used for the Indian economy, to my mind is an oxymoron. Either there is growth or there is high unemployment, but there cannot be both. Let me explain.
There can be no doubt that unemployment has increased after the BJP came to power in May 2014. 
According to the Indian Labour Ministry, 9.5 lac jobs were created annually in the organized sector of the Indian economy in the years 2009 to 2011. But in the years 2015 and 2016 the jobs created annually were less than 2 lacs.
In the quarter October to December 2016 2.5 lac small units closed down. In the I.T. sector there have been massive lay offs, and according to Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, half the I.T. jobs will become redundant in a few years.
Can there be growth of the economy without increasing the number of jobs ? I submit there cannot, because if production increases there must be an increase in sales. To increase sales there must be more people with purchasing power to buy the increased amount of products, and this implies increase in jobs. A jobless person has little purchasing power.
It follows that 'vikas' was an empty slogan, a jumla, like Indira Gandhi's 'garibi hatao', useful for winning elections, but after which people are left high and dry.
In this connection see my blog

Friday 19 May 2017

A new interpretation of a Ghalib sher
Zulmat kade mein mere shab-e-gham ka josh hai
Ek shama hai daleel-e-sahar, so khamosh hai
Mirza Ghalib
Great Urdu poets often write not in direct language but in indirect language, using hints, suggestions, allusions or indications. So to understand their real meaning the reader must go behind the plain literal and superficial meaning, and try to find out the deeper real meaning which the poet is trying to convey. To find out this deeper real meaning you have to often use your head to find it out, and often it may not be evident to you initially.
 Also, Urdu poetry has the quality that several meanings can be given to many shers ( couplets ). Sometimes a meaning can be given by the reader which even the shayar ( poet ) may not have contemplated.
So let us interpret the above sher of Ghalib, the greatest Urdu poet.
Zulmatkade means place of darkness, shab means night, gham means sorrow, shamaa means flame, daleel means proof or argument, sahar means dawn, khamosh means silent.
My own interpretation of the sher, which reflects the present conditions in India is this :
" Even in these dark miserable times there is a passionate fire of optimism in me
When the candle which has burnt all night gets finally extinguished it increases the darkness
But it is also proof that the dawn ( i.e. the beginning of a new prosperous era ) is shortly coming "
In other words, the greater the suffering of the Indian people, the nearer is the Revolution

Thursday 18 May 2017

I have a high opinion of south Indians, but I just cannot understand their stupid deification and idolization of filmstars.
I remember when I was in Annamalai University ( 1967-68 ) I once went with some Tamilian friends to see a movie starring Shivaji Ganesan. At the very beginning of that movie the feet of Shivaji Ganesan were shown ( and only the feet ) and the audience went hysterical. 
Now it seems many south Indians are crazy about Rajnikanth, and some even want him to enter politics and be the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu
But what is there in Rajnikanth ? Has he any solutions to the massive problems of poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of healthcare, farmers distress, etc ? I think he has none. Then why do people want him in politics ? Like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth has nothing in his head.
Lunch with a pro-Modi NRI in California
Had lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Fremomt, California with an NRI friend who is settled in the Bay Area ( Silicon Valley ) USA for over 30 years and has his business here. He is pro-Modi, like most NRIs in America.
He was the host of Prime Minister Modi's visit to the Silicon Valley in September 2015, and spent 2 days with him, and they had long conversations.
He has a very good opinion of Modi, whom he regards a man with a vision, the vision being of developing India.
I told him that at present there was no credible opposition to Modi, and that is why BJP won 4 of the 5 states in the recent elections. He agreed, and said that AAP too was now discredited.
He asked about Congress, and I said in my opinion it was finished as long as Sonia and Rahul are its leaders. He said why do Congressmen then not choose another leadership instead of sticking with them. I said India is a feudal country, in which the son/daughter of a king becomes the next ruler, even if he is incompetent and undeserving. The Nehru-Gandhi family is regarded by the Congress party as the royal family, and it is this binding force which keeps the party united.
He asked whether Modi was corrupt. I said that I had not heard of any personal corruption of Modi. For whom will he take money ? He has no family. But of course one has to take money for the party because politics is an expensive affair in India, elections are expensive, and it costs a lot of money to run an organization.
In contrast, I am convinced Sonia Gandhi was personally corrupt. She looted India, and took away a huge amount of money which she has parked in foreign banks or secret havens. Scam after scam ( e.g. 2G scam, coalblock scam, CWG scam, etc ) was taking place, not of crores of rupees but of lacs of crores, when UPA, of which she was the Chairman, was in power. Where has all this loot gone ? Everyone knows that Manmohan Singh was a dummy, and the real ruler was Sonia. So one can put two and two together. There may not be direct evidence, but there is also a thing called circumstantial evidence.
He asked why BJP won even in Muslim majority areas in U.P. I replied that I had no idea, but normally Muslims do not vote for BJP, and that is why no Muslim was given a BJP ticket in the recent U.P. Assembly elections.
He asked whether the Muslims were feeling alienated. 
I replied that was so. I also told him of the fear of Muslims who are feeling insecure after the attacks on some Muslims in Dadri, Alwar, etc. The appointment of Adityanath as C.M. of U.P. has also sent a wrong message.
He did not deny that, but hoped the extreme elements will be controlled.
He said that he told Modi to have a substantial number of his Secretaries, Addl Secretaries and Jt. Secretaries from the private sector, instead of from the I.A.S.
To this Modi replied that the bureaucracy was very powerful in India, and he did not want a confrontation with it at present, but may consider about it later. However, my friend said he did not believe Modi will ever change the state of affairs in this connection.
My friend said that most jobs are created not by big business but by small businesses, but in India before Modi the climate was hostile to small businesses and Start Ups. For instance, in notices inviting applications for contracts it was usually mentioned that parties having a turnover of less than a certain amount in past years will not be considered, and this turnover amount was fixed so high that new Start Ups could never be considered.
According to him this has now changed by the DIPP. I am not sure this is true. As far as I know, small businesses are having an even more difficult time.
I told him people voted for Modi thinking that vikas meant millions of jobs will be created, but in fact jobs have been further reduced. 12 million youth are coming into the Indian job market every year, but last year only 140, 000 jobs were created in the organized sector of the Indian economy.
The divide between the rich and the poor has increased, and now 57 individuals in India control 70% of India's wealth. How long will this situation be tolerated ?
We also discussed the media. He said that TRP rating of anti-establishment media goes up, and so in USA the TRP rating of CNN, which is regarded as anti-Trump has gone up, while that of Fox News, which is regarded as pro-Trump has gone down.
I said that as far as the Indian media is concerned most of it is presently pro-establishment. Many mediapersons who were perceived as anti Modi have lost their jobs. Most of the media has been taken over by corporates, and these corporates are all pro-Modi.