People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXVIII

No. 35

August 29, 2004

UPA Govt Must Reform Judiciary

Eighth Biennial Conference Of AILU In November

Hardev Singh

 

THE country has witnessed an historic turning point when the BJP-led NDA government was dislodged from the centre and replaced by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The essentially communal agenda of the BJP, pursued vigorously over about six years of its regime, was directed not only at the dismantling of the secular fabric but also diluting the sovereignty of the country by giving in to MNCs. It was also marked by severe assaults on democratic rights of the working people, weaker sections and minorities. The government amended laws at the dictates of the World Bank, IMF and other agencies.

 

An important aspect of the NDA rule was to transform the judicial system to carry out their dictates. Corruption, which reached an all time high during the NDA regime, had severely affected the judiciary also. Corruption in the judicial system and judiciary has become phenomenal.

 

The UPA government earnestly set about the task to bringing back governance in accordance with constitutional mandate. Foremost among the tasks was to rid the system of RSS-brand of fascist infiltration, particularly in administrative and academic spheres, and restore the rights of minorities, working people and weaker sections. The Common Minimum Programme (CMP) adopted by UPA outlined specific measures, details of which it is not necessary to recount here.

 

The CMP, however, did not deal with the tasks that call to be tackled immediately for restructuring and reforming the judicial system excepting its commitment to repeal POTA. This is all the more alarming considering that the credibility of judicial system and its efficacy which is at the lowest ebb is at stake.

 

It is universally acknowledged that the judicial system, as it has come to exist now, has proved a failure in providing justice to the people. Justice has become largely unattainable for the working people, weaker sections, minorities and so on. It has come to exist for the benefit of the privileged. The ever-mounting corruption in judiciary has heightened all this. The scales weigh very much against the under-privileged. Cases are not decided and the pending number keeps mounting.

 

The method of appointment of judges and the total lack of accountability perhaps is the most revealing factor in this aspect. Keeping this in view, the Committee on Judicial Accountability (COJA) finalised a draft bill providing for constitutional amendment for setting up of an independent high-powered National Judicial Commission (NJC) entrusted with the appointment and disciplining, including removal, of members of higher judiciary. The method of appointment experimented so far by the executive through consultation with judiciary and through collegium of senior judges has totally failed. As for disciplining the judges, the impeachment provision in Article 124 of the Constitution has proved illusory.

 

The NDA despite being a votary to the Bill finalised by the COJA, introduced an atrocious bill in parliament obviously to sanction a mechanism for filling up positions in higher echelons of judiciary with nominees owing allegiance to RSS-brand of Hindutva. This most important aspect calls to be taken up forthwith. Then is the reform of laws and repeal of whole gamut of regressive and undemocratic laws substantive and procedural.

 

The Eighth Biennial Conference of All India Lawyers Union (AILU) is scheduled to be held at Jalandhar on November 5-7, 2004. The problems recounted above as also a whole lot of other issues of the moment will be taken up at the Conference. Over 500 delegates from all over the country will attend the conference. For the first time delegates from a few neighbouring and some other countries will also participate in the conference, lending it a wider dimension.

 

AILU since its inception in 1984 has been engaged in work at grassroots level among lawyers to attain the objective of establishing a truly secular, sovereign, socialist republic as envisaged in the Constitution. The delegates will in all earnestness consider important issues centred on making impartial justice accessible, affordable expeditiously.

 

Reform of judicial system is closely linked with reform of laws and procedure. The CMP had focussed on repeal of POTA. But there are judicial pronouncements that attain force of law. One such judge-made law is the banning of the right to strike. When wielded in a regressive and undemocratic manner, judge-made laws are highly detrimental. This too needs to be set right. That surely is an aspect that will engage the attention of the delegates.

 

The preparations for the conference are going on in full swing and the host unit is sparing no efforts to make it a great success. The venue of the conference will be the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall, set up in memory of Gadar Party heroes who lit the torch of revolt against the colonial rule.

 

This conference of AILU is sure to open a new chapter in the quest to secure justice for the people of India. The conference indeed will devote attention to its organisational maters directed to further strengthen it to enable it to discharge the stupendous tasks at hand. The AILU role is to see that the legal fraternity participates in the over all struggle of other sections of people to strengthen the secular, republic as envisaged in the Constitution.