Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: India’s judiciary needs to be restored to its former glory

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Churning in the judiciary

The press conference and statement of the four top judges of the Supreme Court expose the murky happenings in the judiciary (“Explainer: Why four senior judges of the Supreme Court decided to take on CJI Dipak Misra”). There is a disturbing tendency in the higher judiciary to gag any discomforting question about its integrity, by using judicial power and contempt power arbitrarily. Justice Mishra also shot down any attempt to investigate serious allegations involving members of the judiciary in the case pertaining to Medical Council of India

The Rightist Hindutva force seems to have penetrated the higher judiciary. The death of Justice Loya under mysterious circumstances point needle of suspicion to many people in power.

Corruption is everywhere. There are many honest judges but there are dishonest judges too. The judiciary should be the ray of hope for the common people. The Legislature and Executive have failed the people and these two organs have already abdicated basic responsibilities. Judiciary has become proactive and has taken up many responsibilities of other two organs under compelling circumstances. But extraordinary power without accountability may lead to autocracy.

The collegium system should be done away with and a transparent system of appointing the members of higher judiciary should be evolved. The power to charge with contempt should be curtailed, so that the exposure of corruption within the judiciary cannot be curtailed. We need a man of high integrity at the head of the judiciary.

The system of appointing judges after retirement in post retirement assignment should be stopped. Indian Bar needs to restore its previous glory. The Centre should stop interfering in the higher judiciary. – Purushuttam Roy Barman

***

Can the Supreme Court or any other court now punish anyone else for being in contempt? Now, justices are being lectured by the Bar Association, and everyone else with an opinion and a platform. It seems that at least one of the Judges harboured a long-standing grievance for being deprived of a shot at being chief justice India. So, was this a part of the motivation for Saturday’s protest? – MM Krishnan

***

The judges said that they went public to discharge their responsibility to the people of the country. A nobler step would have been to resign, and then make their opinions public. This is akin to having their cake and eating it too. The carefully orchestrated press conference with Shekhar Gupta standing behind the judges, Indira Jaisingh in attendance, and D Raja waiting in the wings, make one wonder. – Mohan Krishnan

***

India has become a country of a thousand mutinees. When Manmohan Singh was prime minister, ministers were making statements against their own government’s policies. Now, we have a minister of a former BJP government, still a top rank member of the party, making press statements against the present head of the central government.

The former head of government – an economist in his own right – offered an extreme criticism of the demonetisation, a move the country accepted as necessary and had supported in spite of personal sufferings. Now, four sitting judges of the most respected institution, the Supreme Court, are taking their protest to the people at large, pulling down the reputation of the institution.

India seem to have adopted a culture of protests. People are protesting against what they are a part of. I am reminded of a Hindu Temple’s Board of Directors in Canada signing a petition against a decision taken by the Board. It is as if a person with multiple personalities is protesting against the dominant personality. Has the protest movement of Satyagraha that Gandhiji had initiated lost meaning and gone out of control?

Did the four judges not consider the damage their actions would do to the most respected and trusted institution of the country? Did they not think it would be like trampling on their cake and having it too? Should they have quietly resigned en mass, and let the country wonder and seek out answers? After resigning, should they have written revealing memoirs, as they do in other democracies?

How can people of good conscience continue to accept their pay and perks after taking such a sensational step against the system they are part of? – Kalburgi Srinivas

***

The fact that four have judges have come out in public against the chief justice of India means that there is something very very disturbing happening. The concerns raised are not just about justice, but about the propriety of the judicial system. This issue should be dealt with with utmost urgency and caution.

To a large extent, the system is corrupt and judiciary also needs to guard from this menace. If four judges are sticking their necks their neck, then something is seriously wrong. Let us go deep and get an independent probe into the matter. God save us if we brush this under the carpet. The civil society should be more vocal about such issues and raise awareness. Finally, it is public opinion that matter and people have the weapon in their hands, in the form of the ballot. – Raveen BV

***

It’s a national shame and reflects very poorly on the selection system of judges, where political affiliations and favouritism seem to prevail while expertise and superior knowledge of law are given the go-bye. Where is the maturity and wisdom of these individuals? The demonstration shown by the judges yesterday exhibits a mutinous conduct. It strongly suggests their political alignments as well, which is a serious threat to the system of justice in our country. – Shiv Darshan Dutta

***

Did Sambit Patra see Rahul Gandhi or any other Congress leader standing with a whip behind the judges at the press conference? The judges took this route as the last resort when they couldn’t get through to the Chief Justice of India.

It is but natural that the Congress makes it issue out of it now. If roles were reversed, would the BJP have done it any other way? Look at all the innuendos and fabrications the party makes during an election campaign??!

It’s time Patra cleaned up his act. I believe the writing is on the wall. – Jaya Abraham

Controversial remarks

I agree with TM Krishna’s comment on what Vairamuthu was supposed to have said about Andal being a Devadasi in the 7th-century Tamil country (“Tamil poet Vairamuthu’s speech on seventh-century mystic Andal sparks controversy”). As a student of history I wish to introduce the historical perspective and clarify that this controversy is unnecessary. It is much more important to look at the institutional background of the Devadasi community than to merely see them as a caste of musician-dancers and worse still, only as courtesans. I suspect it is this notion that has amplified what to my mind is a non issue.

The appearance of a group of professionals, singers, dancers and those services associated with the performing arts become visible from the imperial Chola period of the tenth century onwards. As a community they might have had their beginnings earlier, but the institutional support structures, in the form of the great temples with their distinct architectural style, began with Rajaraja Chola.

It is possible that much before Devadasis based in the temple, bards and minstrels wandering from one shrine to another sometimes in the hope of alms and otherwise out of devotion were very much a part of the social and cultural landscape. Andal could have been one amongst them, particularly devoted to Srirangam Krishna and uniquely, a woman as well. We are well aware that most of the Sangam literature is the product of such humble souls who travelled from the court of one chieftain to the other. To my mind, Andal and the Alwars as well as the Saivite saints were a part of a continuing literary-poetic-devotional tradition. If it’s any solace to Vairamuthu, he’s also part of that which will always be a never-ending flow. – Sudha Jha

***

What is wrong if some researcher pointed out that Andal belonged to the Devadasi community? People are belittling Devadasis by taking objection to this. Even if Andal was a Devadasi that does not change anything. She was a great devotee of Perumal and we adore her for that devotion. People are belittling others for their personal gains. – S Subathra

***

I would like to hear the views of women on this controversy about Andal. I am worried that all views expressed are patriarchal in nature, because men are speaking about the life of a female mystic. – Deborah Uller

***

We, the members of a Srivaishnava Kainkarya Sabha, are pained to see the controversy about Sri Andal in the holy month of Margazhi. We feel the Tamil Nadu government should take a proactive steps in condemning the remarks. It is well known that she is considered as an Alwar and social reformer cutting across all castes and sections. – AT Kannan

***

It is very unfortunate to see that even respectable people like vairamuthu are so causal about people’s sentiments. Vairamuthu may be a tall figure but his works are nowhere close to those of Andal’s Thiruppavai. – Pandian Ponnuswamy

***

No one has derided the Devadasi community, as TM Krishna has alleged. We have only said that Andal was not a Devadasi. Earlier, he had said MS Subbulakshmi had Devadasi roots. His comments are lowly. – Brinda Giri

***

I strongly condemn Vairamuthu’s wishy-washy apology. He had no business quoting somebody else if he was convinced by what they had said. He has lost all credibility as a poet, if that term ever applied to him.

Also I take exception to TM Krishna unnecessarily throwing his hat into the ring.

Two points are to be made here: Andal was not a Devadasi. She was an image of devotion.

Second, the term Devadasi, which literally means servant of the celestials has been made derogatory ever since 1930’s when the Anti-nautch Act was passed to prevent the sexual exploitation of the temple dancers by the rich indolent upper-class folks.

So in such an atmosphere, even the use of the term Devadasi is somewhat repugnant. Once it is soiled, you cannot go back and claim the pristine purity of the term. So TM Krishna needs to end this phony interpretation. – Sethuraman Subramanian

***

Dinamani is a respected daily. Vairamuthu is also respected lyrist and judicious politician. In this case, he miserably erred by making a controversial comment on the most revered Andal, that too by piggybacking on a foreigner’s view. He definitely should have avoided the comment. Andal was and will always be an iconic personality for her single-minded dedication, love, and her command over Tamil. – P Sridharan

***

It is indeed disheartening to see that a man of such repute as Vairamuthu should stir the hornet’s nest by quoting an American author who said that the Andal hails from the Devadasi clan. Does Vairamuthu have the courage to speak about other communities? The poet has given us a chance to unite in fighting against such impious people. – Chandrasekaran ES

***

It is a well known that western Indologists try to demean Hindu saints and even belittle our gods. What is disturbing is a man of Vairamuthu’s stature can accepts their version and repeats it without doing his own research. It is not important that Devadasis are being equated with Andal. The reaction to the Devadasi aspect is not the issue here. It is about Vairamuthu demeaning Andal quoting a foreigner. – Nethra Kanagasabai

History revisited

Dalits don’t celebrate the Bhima Koregaon battle as a British victory, they celebrate it as a victory over caste discrimination (“Celebrating Bhima Koregaon is unpatriotic? So why not other British victories in India too?”). Under the Peshwas, Dalits were mistreated and were accorded such a low status in the social hierarchy that they were outside of the caste system . A pot was put strung on their neck in which they could spit and a broom was tied on their waist to wipe their footprints. – Shailesh

***

Very well said. This is the face of the BJP-led India. The celebration of Bhima Koregaon battle was never anti-India, it was a protest against the caste system. – Vishal Sarode

***

The celebration of the Battle of Koregaon is not that of the victory of one community over another but a celebration of the self respect of one community that was denied to them by others because of caste. – Davinder Sood

***

I have been reading your articles for some time and they are very good. I appreciate the depth in this article. I wish you best luck for future and hope we get some real journalism through this medium. – Mohammed M Shaikh

***

The battle was between the Peshwas and the Mahars, it was not related to the British. This was not a battle for power but for self-respect. – Nagasain

Identity matters

Whether true or untrue, such reports create panic and doubt in the uniqueness of the Aadhaar number given by UIDAI to Indian citizens and the way it is being made mandatory for everything from birth to death (“After data breach report, UIDAI blocks all officials from accessing Aadhaar portal: Economic Times”). Where are we headed and where will Aadhaar lead us? – Syamala Rakothu

***

It is wrong for Unique Identification Authority of India to file an FIR against the journalist who exposed Aadhar leaks. If a loophole is pointed out, government should work on fixing the flaw rather than shooting the messenger. Why is the government forcing people to link up everything with Aadhaar when there are serious contradictions and allegations of data breach. – Shashidhar Vuppala

Privacy concerns

This example can be put forth in the Supreme Court, where cases are pending on the need for linking Aadhar to all government facilities, gas, IT, bank accounts, phone connections and the like (“Memo to Shekhar Gupta: To understand Aadhaar’s threat to democracy, listen to Snoopgate tapes”). One breach and everyone can cease to exist in government records, if the powers that be so desire. The repeated assurances of the impregnable safety of records does not seem plausible, given that so many so called servers have been penetrated and data stolen. – Shivashankar Rajiv

***

The state is effectively imposing the Rowlatt Act. Independence is not something to be observed only on August 15. Independence is the freedom of people to express their views and engage in political and social movements that may be contrary to the policies of the State without the risk of being unduly penalised using information gathered by one’s Aadhaar details. Aadhaar has failed to fulfill any of its ostensible advantages. Yet, people are snoozing while their financial, political and social identity is being sold to a few large corporations. – Sujan Kumar Ghosh

Virtual ID

Why do the government and other agencies always go into denial whenever any shortcomings are pointed out (“With Virtual ID, UIDAI admits what it has been denying: Leaked Aadhaar numbers are a problem”)?

Now Nandan Nilekani says there is an orchestrated campaign to malign the Aadhaar project. Any non-partisan citizen would agree that an ID for all citizens is welcome.But if any aspect of system causes problems for the card-holder, the authorities concerned are expect to look into and rectify the problem, so that people’s faith in the project is restored. – Kamala Devi Subrahmanyan

About time

I have complete and utter respect for David Schwimmer (“Essential viewing: ‘Friends’ star David Schwimmer’s films show what sexual harassment really is”). Tank you for making these, from a woman’s point of view not a man’s. – Julie Davies

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