The judiciary has been the one sturdy dyke that has saved us from the excesses of rulers. But recent events remind us of the cracks that have formed: the quality of individuals apart, even the institutional arrangements that had been put in place to preserve the purity and independence of the institution-the collegium, conventions governing the way cases are to be assigned among judges-have frayed. These cracks provide a dangerous opportunity to political rulers to suborn this institution also.
In his new book, ‘Anita Gets Bail’, through actual cases and judgments of various courts, Arun Shourie enables us to see how frail and vulnerable this ‘last pillar standing’ has become. A judge who by a brazen manipulation of facts lets a prominent politician off … Events and a judgment that let the convicted choose the prosecutor who is to conduct the case against them … Courts that turn a blind eye to life-and-death reforms even as they preoccupy themselves with trivia … Courts that deliver ringing judgments and then do not care to look if their directions are being implemented … Courts that disregard their own judgments on penalizing persons for perjury, for dragging out cases … Courts that do not think through the consequences, even the predictable consequences of their judgments … Judges who prevaricate, who look the other way when some of their own fraternity come under a cloud … A judge who is manifestly unbalanced, judges whose knowledge of the most elementary facts of science is laughable, a judge whose prose even the Supreme Court is unable to comprehend-all of them continue to hand down rulings that affect the fortunes and lives of thousands … Judges who disregard well-settled principles to such an extent that their colleagues are compelled to make their grave misgivings public…
And the non-bailable warrants that are issued for the arrest of Anita, Arun Shourie’s ailing wife, for evading summons that were never served, summons that were ostensibly issued for their having built a house that was never built, on a plot they did not own…
Through meticulous examination, Arun Shourie leads us through judgments and instances-some hilarious, so many infuriating-and points to things that each of us – judges, lawyers, laypersons like us-can do to retrieve this most vital of institutions.
The Manthan Talk by Mr Shourie is around this new book published by HarperCollins Publishers.
Arun Shourie is among India’s finest public intellectuals and conscience keepers.
Born in Jalandhar, Punjab (1941), he studied at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi and then obtained his doctorate in Economics from Syracuse University, USA.
Among other portfolios, he held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communications and Information Technology in Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. He was acclaimed as a “Star of Asia” by Business Week in 2002, as “The Business Leader of the Year” by The Economic Times jury for his pioneering and dogged work on privatization. In a poll of Indian CEOs, he was acclaimed as “The Most Outstanding Minister” of Mr. Vajpayee’s Government in early 2004.
He is the recepient of numerous national and international awards, including the Magsaysay Award and one of India’s highest civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan.
He has been an economist with the World Bank, and Editor of the Indian Express. He is widely regarded as the initiator of Investigative Journalism in India. The International Press Institute, Vienna, acclaimed him as one of 50 “World Press Freedom Heroes” whose work has sustained freedom of the press in the last half-century.
He has written over 25 books on a variety of topics ranging from constitutional law, modern Indian history, religious fundamentalism, governance in India, to national security..