Recent Outlook pieces on legal issues

Outlook magazine has always carried interesting pieces on legal issues from time to time. Here
is an interesting recent discussion about the Inamdar case and some other Supreme Court decisions. The primary discussants are the former Solicitor General, Harish Salve, and the CPI (M) MP Mohd. Salim. Towards the end of the discussion, in response to a remark by Salve that attacks on the lack of accountability of the judiciary are due to a “misplaced notion”, Salim makes an interesting comment:

“Well, it has been happening in this country, that some people have always believed that they belong to a select group of intellectuals, who alone understand complex issues, whereas others do not have this understanding. We call it Brahmanism [sic], and the fight for social justice is precisely against such practices.”

Though polemical, these remarks would seem to be justified. Salve’s dismissal of calls for judicial accountability is somewhat perfunctory and smacks of elitism. Such calls have been made not just by people “who do not have a proper understanding of the Constitution” but also by experienced judges and senior lawyers, who presumably do have such an understanding. Here is an entire collection of Outlook articles on the issue. While Salve’s defence of the Supreme Court’s institutional role is commendable, in his zeal for his role as advocate for the Court, he appears to elide over genuine problems within that august institution.

In another piece, Kuldip Nayar urgesthe Supreme Court to decide upon the issue of elections to the Rajya Sabha, which has been pending before the Court for 18 months. If my memory serves me right, that case was initiated by Nayar himself. Ordinarily, there might be a problem with a litigant espousing the speedy disposal of his own case, but in this case, the overwhelming public interest involved would appear to justify the request.

Outlook also has a collection of articles on “The Judiciary v. the Govt” which comment on some recent clashes between these two wings of government.

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  • Salim’s remarks are worse than polemical – they smack of bigotry and intolerance, the very problems that “social justice” should address. By bandying around terms such as “Brahmanism” in a derogatory fashion, Salim reveals himself as a communally driven ideologue whose responsibility extends only as far as his ability to appeal to a vote bank. It is not enough to condemn bigotry in historically dominant groups. Social justice demands that political sectarians such as Salim are equally condemned, especially when their intemperate rants extend to a group whose actions are not relevant to or in question in the debate at hand.