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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.

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