Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“Our apprehension of civil disturbance, riots, mobs going on a rampage etc…”

There has been a constant stream of news clips about pendency of cases in Indian courts, extremely acute in the higher reaches. There is a demand for filling up the empty judgeships pronto and also for enhancing the number of the judges. Only today, I read the head honcho of the current Law Commission saying that there is no need to lengthen the Bench! All the pending cases can be settled in reasonable time if the full force of the sanctioned strength of judges is brought to bear on the issue. Now, it is a three party fight – the judiciary, the political executive and the Law Commission! Worst still, no referees! I do not know how this is going to work out, and how long it would take.
But, in the mean time we have the unrest (to put it mildly) in Karnataka on sharing of Cauvery waters. The Supreme Court gave the judgment, ostensibly after deep study, wide consultation and consideration, that a certain quantum of water has to be released to Tamil Nadu. But, the moment there were apprehensions that riots will break out (possibly stoked by political operatives to heat the iron to strike) and this was expressed to the Supreme Court, the whole of the above mentioned, “deep study, wide consultation and consideration” went out the window. An ad hoc reduction of about 25% was ordered by the Court.
But, such “nominal” reductions did not cut ice with the protesters, and riots were in full swing.
Not very long ago, the Supreme Court had some strong words for some state government or the other about withholding permission for an event just because the government was afraid of a situation similar to what has happened now in Karnataka arising: “Just do it,” – prepare yourself for any and all events. If I remember right, the admonition from the Bench was harsh.
I think the Court missed a trick there. It should have listened to the state’s pleas more sympathetically.
Had it done so, I will sketch out the following scenario – when the Cauvery dispute, the current version, came to the Supreme Court, it could have said, “Our apprehension of civil disturbance, riots, mobs going on a rampage etc., no matter how we decide, precludes us from hearing this case.”
This is one nice way of reducing the size of the docket!
It is a pity King Solomon was much before my time. He could not avail of my wisdom! But, now at least our Supreme Court can.
Raghuram Ekambaram

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