People's Democracy

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


No. 29

July 18, 2010

Talking of a Judgement is Not

Combating the Judiciary


Pinarayi Vijayan


OF late, in Kerala, a section of the retrograde forces and media with vested interests are eagerly endeavouring to depict the CPI(M) as a party that is waging a war against the judiciary. In the wake of a recent judgement from a division bench of the Kerala High Court, banning public meetings by roadside, these forces are yet again extensively propagating their allegation against the CPI(M).


As we know, in a democratic system, efforts of the political parties to rouse public awareness is of extreme significance. It empowers the people to judge and choose their own representatives through elections. In a country where crores of people are illiterate, it is the public vigilance created through public gatherings that contributes to bringing about a healthy and meaningful democracy. When people are unaware of the numerous questions that the whole country confronts and, without appreciating the valid issues involved, they subsequently elect their representatives, this invariably undermines the true aims of democracy. Advocates of the existing social order always try to maintain such a distressing situation. The recent verdict of the Kerala High Court also has to be seen in this context.




In Kerala, roadsides are used to organise public meetings thanks to extremely limited public space on account of the state’s high density of population. Even though the state does not face the menace of illiteracy, which characterises the national scenario, large segments of society are often unable to follow the significant developments in public domain on account of their hectic engagements in day to day life. In such a situation, it is indeed public meetings that enable them to appreciate and to judge the divergent views on any issue. Protest demonstrations and public meetings are essentially a means of expression of the dissenting section in a democratic system. When the system fails to protect the civil rights, there is always the threat that it may manifest in the form of unwarranted activities.


This emphasises the importance of the democratic rights and hence the architects of our Constitution declared them to be the fundamental rights of every citizen. Political parties, which are an imperative in a democracy, thus have every right to organise public meetings and to explain their stance on different issues. The genuine objectives of a meeting won’t be accomplished if it is restricted to an isolated location. That is why the High Court order will result in far reaching consequences. While restricting the public meetings organised by political parties, it subsequently restricts all social gatherings including the religious congregations.


The order blatantly violates the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and the freedom of assembly as are enshrined in the Constitution. Organising public meetings by roadside was a common practice during the days of the national movement as well. It is to be noted that the Constitution itself makes certain restrictive provisions to thwart the misuse of any right. So any restrictions beyond these constitutional provisions unjustifiably limit the liberty of the civil society to get together and thus curtails the people’s political freedoms, which may lead to far reaching and perilous consequences. While delivering an order imposing unreasonable restriction on the right to peacefully assemble, did the court consider such social implications?


Courts cannot, in fact, be blamed for this negligence. As the judges are to a great extent compelled to keep away from the wider society, their failure to consider these social implications cannot be called an aberration. But the political parties and their leaders have to work among the people and intervene in day-to-day issues. It is therefore their responsibility to point out any such laxity on the part of the judiciary. While talking about the recent judgement, the CPI(M) is in fact fulfilling this very responsibility. Indeed, any attempt to point out such laxities may help the judiciary to discharge its judicial performance more judiciously. 




In the past as well, when the court imposed a ban on bandhs and hartals, the CPI(M) thought it necessary to draw everyone’s attention to the possible crucial consequences of the verdict, which the court had failed to appreciate. The Party did talk about the court verdicts when the judiciary banned democratic rights of the students in schools, directed the mode of elections in campuses etc, as it thought those verdicts would harm the democratic ethos enshrined in the Constitution. Whenever the party indicated any such negligence in the past, many stalwarts in the higher judiciary, rather than getting annoyed, appreciated the level of vigilance the party had shown.


The current critique on the High Court judgement is also an endeavour to ensure meaningful democracy. Every organ of the State has to be often cautioned that anything that may weaken the fabric of our democracy, would in effect offer an opportunity to the undemocratic forces to intrude into the public domain. In the absence of democratic means of expressing the people’s anger and discontent, divisive forces can easily divert their resentment to promote anti-national sensitivity which may result in endangering our democracy itself. Hence the judiciary must in fact welcome such interventions as they intended to protect the democratic ethos in the interest of our nation.


Unfortunately, with an intention to breed unwarranted notions in the judiciary, a section of the media with vested interests and all shades of the anti-Marxist forces are deliberately spreading dubious lies about our constructive criticism. Instead of considering the gist and merit of our criticism, such forces intentionally take apart certain words from the pronouncements made by some of our leaders and propagate that the CPI(M) is waging a war against the judiciary and thus posing a threat to the judicial system. It is not a word or expression in a speech, but the content and spirit which it signifies, that matters. The substance and spirit of our critique is indubitable --- that it aims to serve the interest of the people and democracy. In fact, it is a cynical game plan to divert public resentment on the unwarranted judgement by broadcasting the war-on-judiciary rhetoric.




In this regard, the CPI(M)’s position is clear and it has never engaged in any war against the judiciary. Thus it is devious and immoral to depict our intervention to protect the people’s democratic rights as a battle against the judicial system. The recent court verdict indisputably endangers the people’s democratic rights and it is therefore our opinion, as a responsible political party, that the judiciary itself has to rectify its oversight. It is an effort to protect the fundamental rights from a possible danger. Safeguarding democracy is important not only for the common people; it is vital in the interest of the judiciary also. Many of the judges too essentially hold the same view. If independence, democracy, sovereignty etc are endangered, how will the judicial system alone survive? Therefore, every earnest endeavour of the CPI(M) in defence of the democratic ethos, when it comes in the backdrop of a judgement, must be seen as an attempt to protect democracy itself and thus to guard our independent legal system itself.


In our democratic system judiciary, executive and legislature are the three vital organs of the State, with different realms of functioning under the principle of separation of powers. Maintenance of mutual respect between all the three components of the State is imperative to guarantee the existence of democracy. When a particular organ does not limit itself within the boundary earmarked by the Constitution, it may harm the democratic system itself. The CPI(M) had only tried to highlight this fact by commenting upon the recent verdict. However, the vested interests hide such an explicit perspective to give the judiciary an erroneous impression that the CPI(M) is up in arms against it. Amusingly, the same vested interests misquote certain comments of the court to propagate that the judiciary scorns the CPI(M). All sections of the general public as well as the constitutional institutions need to be watchful against such a heinous game plan and the narrow political intent behind it.


Many luminaries in the higher judiciary have repeatedly opined that any attempt to draw attention to a certain error in a judgement or even criticise it cannot be seen as an erroneous intervention. The CPI(M)’s criticism also falls in the same category of acceptable judicial appreciation, and aimed to safeguard the democratic ethos. There is nothing new in this approach. The CPI(M) always had a critical view on the basic structure of our judicial system. Its perception is not at all confidential and the Party Programme clearly elucidates the CPI(M)’s stance on the judiciary. The Party Programme states: “The judiciary is weighted against the workers, peasants and other sections of the working people.” It further adds: “Though formally both the rich and the poor are equal in principle, the system of justice in essence serves the interests of the exploiting classes and upholds their class rule.” It is thus clear that the criticism is not aimed at the judiciary per se but against the present social order and its advocates that constitutes the judiciary in such a state. The Programme also illuminates how the judiciary is being used in the interest of the ruling classes: “Even the bourgeois democratic principle of separation of judiciary from the executive is not fully adhered to and the judiciary is subjected to the influence and control of the latter.” When the judiciary pronounces judgements that curtail the fundamental rights and democratic ethos, the CPI(M) tries to show how the social order subverts the judiciary itself by making it execute undemocratic orders.


It is obvious that our perception is motivated by our sincere desire for an independent judicial system by all means --- one that ensures true justice to the people and intervenes in the interest of the people. An independent legal system with a pro-people spirit can materialise only in a changed social order that serves people’s concerns. Till then, on the part of the judiciary, similar judgements curtailing the people’s democratic and fundamental rights must be expected again and again. The CPI(M) is of the firm conviction that it has the responsibility to make the people aware, on all such occasions, as to how such verdicts endanger democracy.