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Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Judiciary's RTI 'Quota' Fracas

At long last, the Supreme Court has let the cat out of the bag.  

It has broken the conspiracy of silence that shrouded the arbitrary and uneven administration of the Right To Information Act 2005. 'Loyal' bureaucrats being made information commissioners: SC .

Wajahat Habibullah, the first Chief Information Commissioner, is a well known courtier of the Congress party. As was CD Arha, the State Information Commissioner in my state.

I have documented how these sycophants abused their power to violate my RTI and shield the Prime Minster’s and Chief Minister’s office.

They may speak their peculiar Stephanian English and nurse their delusions, but on my evidence, these people are as much thugs and perverts as any making the news today.

The current State Information Commissioner, Jannat Hussain, was Principal Secretary to Chief Minister for six long years. He was a point man for a Chief Minister whose son is in jail, for alleged corruption.

I have met Janat Hussain repeatedly in his former office. He made sure, to not give me any reason to be favourably impressed by him.

He is just another one of those guys, who can sit in front of a person who has single handedly struggled for decades against corruption and pretend to some kind of superior authority.

But the judiciary itself has been consistently hostile to the RTI. I have recorded the depravity of the Andhra Pradesh High Court .

My understanding of the shocking perniciousness of the judiciary was repeatedly underscored by Shri Sailesh Gandhi, former Chief Information Commissioner, the highest possible authority on RTI.

The former Chief Information Commissioner has disclosed how the judiciary has elbowed its way into the territory of the constitutional office.

India’s judiciary, by and large, could use a makeover.

It has been unable to effectively counter serious allegations of corruption.

Recently the columnist Sandhya Jain observed, “In the infamous Nira Radia tapes, there is an open allusion to a particular judge being ‘fixed’ with Rs 9 crore.

When senior advocate Shanti Bhushan submitted an affidavit in the Apex court charging eight out of 16 former Chief Justices of India of having been corrupt; no one demurred and many even said it was an underestimation.”

I recently requested some information from the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The very next day, I received a reply, speed of greased lightning by the shamelessly glacial, life wrenching standards of the judiciary, rejecting my postal money order.

The Court demanded that I pay them more than the sum stipulated by the Act. Also that I had to pay through court stamps. Once again violating both the spirit and letter of the Act.

There is a post office in my neighbourhood. It costs less time and gas to make a money order.

The nearest court house is kilometres away.

Jannat Hussain, could have taken suo moto notice of this egregious violation of the law by the judiciary. He is staying cosy.

So how many layers of corruption and maladministration can you detect in this little sliver of life ?

Of course, I sent in a fresh request.

Two months have passed and I have received no response. Andhra Pradesh High Court has arbitrarily and without showing any reason, refused my request.

Under the law, the Information Commissioner must order the disgorgement of the information that I have sought and fine and penalise the officer who has denied my request.

As State Information Commissioner, Jannat Hussain is the final appellate authority.

If he does not satisfy me, I can appeal to the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

What do you think are my chances ?

Of course, known, corrupt, sycophants are being appointed Information Commissioners in the States and the Centre.

But it is difficult to believe that the judiciary is motivated by any tender concern for the proper delivery of the rights of the citizen.

Its insistence on a quota for judges in the Commission is absurd, pathetic and further shreds whatever little dignity, judges are entitled to in society.

Incidentally, the very first person that I encountered in the Andhra Pradesh State Information Commission was the Member (Judicial). He was a retired district judge.

This narcissism and serial delinquency of constitutional authorities makes life unbearable and dignity impossible for the Non Privileged Indian.

Activists who have earned much fame and fortune for having introduced this “revolutionary”
law, cannot stay oblivious to its destruction.

Alas, they have not been as zealous in holding territory as the poachers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prashant Bhushan And The Tail Of The Tiger

In the autumn of 2009, Prashant Bhushan, revealed to Tehelka ("sensation") magazine that ‘Half Of The Last 16 Chief Justices Were Corrupt’ 

Prashant Bhushan has also gone to some lengths to explain why he considered the current Chief Justice Kapadia's conduct in the Vedanta case to be "morally unsound or debased."

All this is sensational beyond description. 

Had Prashant Bhushan seized a tiger - or was it eight or nine tigers - by its tail ? 

Obviously the Supreme Court could not let this pass, so it launched contempt proceedings against this "turbulent priest".

Now the father Shanthi Bhushan, former Law Minister of India, stormed in to aid his son.

Fuel to the fire - what would the Supreme Court do ?

Very little. 

The Bhushans had compiled a secret sealed envelope and jammed it in the craw of the gasping Indian judiciary.

And evidently, the Supreme Court of India can neither, as the old Tamil saying goes, chew it up nor swallow it. 

There was a moment of bathos, when the court helpfully suggested that Bhushan apologise and "close the chapter on the contempt proceedings"

The Bhushans roared back. They were willing to go to jail but would not apologise.

Prashant Bhushan had not provoked a sleeping tiger by pulling on its tail. 

Rather this canny Delhiwalla, with the wisdom of three generations of proximity to the ways of the decadent embedded in his genes, appears to have grabbed the mangy Indian judiciary by its throat. 

A Godsend for the Indian Press.  A Tehelka in spades.

But the Indian Press, that can be safely predicted only to erupt in regular spouts of self congratulatory clamour, has stayed mute.

There have been no further disclosures. No leaks. No hidden camera stunts.

Close to three years have passed and the litigation meanders on.

But the Bhushans, father and prominent son, have gone on from strength to strength.

Prashant Bhushan does very well on television. 

I myself have found his careful, systematic articulation, his dogged pursuit of every detail , his stubborn resistance to authoritarian airbrushing very attractive. 

Was a time, when watching Prashant Bhushan on television, surrounded and responding doggedly to the suave officers of the Indian state, I have felt our blood pressures rise and fall in synch. 

Indian television has made Prashant Bhushan a most powerful Indian.

Consider this: There are 782 members of parliament. 

But the number of lawyers whose names regularly figures in the media can be counted with the fingers and toes.

And among this rare species of Indian, the Bhushans are among the most favoured.

Such is the formidable, almost unique dominance of the Bhushans, especially Prashant on the grungy contemporary judicial landscape of India.

This dominance has been questioned. 

First came a mysterious CD. Clumsy paste up job ? We will never know. 

But to Vineet Narain, hero of the Havala scam, who bravely took on the might of not one but two of the most mighty legal grandees of India,  the CD seemed credible

 He said,  “I am not surprised by the content of the CD because I have burnt my fingers with the Bhushans during my Jain Hawala crusade...controversy and suspicion had arisen even earlier on the Bhushans...after initially helping me in drafting the petition (of Jain Hawala case), Ram Jethmalani and subsequently, his associates, the Bhushans, made several attempts to sabotage the biggest crusade against corruption and finally derailed the case.”

I am inclined to believe Shri Narain.

But not everybody does. 

According to Tehelka - Advocate Kamini Jaiswal says that Narain was “a dirty blackmailer, who’d filed ugly petitions and circulated in his paper Kal Chakra that a particular judge was a homosexual.”

Then there was the conflict of interest case, when Bhushan Senior was alleged to have been favoured by the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati, even as he was litigating for the public interest against her alleged excesses. 

Once again there was some hot air on television: 


This allegation too has been given "the quietus"  . 

Tehelka apologised; 

Even Mrs Sonia Gandhi conveyed her disapproval .

It was a rare chorus of indignation in favour of the Bhushans in a country in which activists using their Right To Information get swatted down like flies. 

and are carefully dishonoured afterwards.

Where honest officials get burnt alive.


and again

Where journalists and their families are murdered,

and then forgotten.

Finally there was a case of  massive tax evasion by Bhushan Senior. 

Unlike the other two, this was a case in which no other VIPs were involved.

And in this case, the allegation stuck.

Hammers to a fly. Why ?

The Indian judiciary has been brazen in its extraordinary indulgence of  Chief Justice Dinakaran. 

The tortuous curial pussyfooting on the grave allegations against Ex Chief Justice of Supreme Court and current Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission K G Balakrishnan is a running sore and a grave embarrassment. 

So why is this scion of The House Of The Bhushans Of New Delhi, allying himself with another legal blunderbuss, Ram Jethmalani to, for all practical purposes, harass and stymy the career of a high court judge whose alleged misdemeanor appears innocuous, almost innocent, in comparison with the monstrous misdeeds  alleged and otherwise of his peers and superiors in the Indian judiciary ?

Why is Prashant Bhushan who flaked out of taking on the entire Andhra Pradesh High Court on its egregious misconduct against a single, unsupported citizen who had been stripped of the best years of his life for standing up for the idea of the rule of law in India, now going after a judge who even if for a brief moment and half-heartedly, lit a little light in that case ?

Is their action in the public interest ?

Is it motivated by the zeal to cleanse a diseased Andhra Pradesh High Court and restore it to a semblance of credibility ? 

Neither Bhushan nor Jethmalani can make any lofty claims. 

The Bhushans appear to have made a compelling argument that Chief Justice Kapadia or a "Amicus Curiae" Harish Salve can be accused of being  "morally unsound or debased." .

The Bhushans do not appear any less prone to abuse the judiciary to aggrandise themselves. 

Given their expedient torpor on the occasion when their considerable talents and individual consciences were more urgently required, it is fair to infer that the Bhushans are mere adventurers. 

They are mere pirates with a training in the law, backed by their ill gotten wealth and a dotty Delhi centric media, who are scavenging on India's irretrievably compromised and crumbling political establishment.


If there are any clean hands in India's decrepit, delinquent and depraved judiciary, they do not appear clearly visible to the naked eye.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prashant Bhushan Exceeds His Brief

PIL seeks quashing of Andhra Pradesh high court judge’s appointment

Prashant Bhushan and Ram Jethmalani, two of India's most high profile lawyers are supporting a Public Interest Litigation by an advocate Manohar Reddy, seeking to quash the appointment of a Justice N V Ramana of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The details of the allegation are in the news report.  

The allegation does not relate to any personal or professional misconduct of the judge while in office. 

However it does allege that the judge may have suppressed a material and mandated fact, that may have disqualified him to pursue a career in the judiciary. 

The report also makes it clear that while the judge may have suppressed the fact of having a minor criminal record in his application, the matter has been a subject of public negotiations for some time.

If true,  these allegations are serious. The independence of all our constitutional institutions are their life's breath and heart's blood. Our constitution comes alive in the aloof manner in which they examine, interrogate and abrade each other.

In order that they maintain their abrasive quality, they cannot hold any uncomfortable secrets. They cannot be potential targets for blackmail or seduction. They have to stay well inflated with their abrasive purpose throughout their service life.

So if Justice Ramana did withhold a 'dirty secret' and had become transparently beholden to the government to favour him with some rare kindness, I at least, will have no doubts that he has forfeited his place among his awesome, black robed brethren.

He is the proverbial rotten apple that must be quickly discarded, before he infects the rest of the basket with his disease.

And Shri Bhushan and his well funded NGO deserves the warm gratitude of all reasonable persons in society for having taken the time off from his no doubt grueling schedule of personal and private interests - does he have any ? to undertake the onerous task of ejecting a serving Indian judge from his high office.

But truth does not yield itself so easily.

If the truth was what a mystic messiah or a cabal of  high priests declared, then we would have no need for constitutions and laws, procedures and protocols, evidence and witnesses, black robes and sober miens, lawyers and litigants. 

We can dispense with books and libraries, teachers and schools, science and ethics and all the laboriously constructed appurtenances of the idea of humanity's evolution and difference and submit like our simian cousins to a place in the tribe. 

I have had a brush with Shri Prashanth Bhushan - an encounter which left me wondering whether this firebrand's legendary talent for sniffing out the public interest does not sometimes desert him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Shit Happens School Of Sociology.