Mohammad Bin Tughlaq was known as a wise-fool in Indian history. For making decisions that seemed “wise” but were completely detached from the ground reality and had no relationship to what the people wanted or could do. He ultimately ended wasting money, resources, time and his future.
When power is absolute and it assumes a role detached of any input or feedback from outside, it leads to only two things – either making a mockery of the one who uses the power indiscriminately and without any feedback or unbridled tyranny.
Unbridled power leads to Mockery or Tyranny
With contempt of court as the shield and the wall to lock itself from any and every feedback from the society and devoid of any mandate from the people and no accountability or answerability to the populace, the judiciary in India is assuming the role of such an entity.
As the restrictions on bursting crackers during Diwali – a central part of Diwali celebrations from centuries – in Delhi and the rest of the country the Indian Supreme Court put itself in a position where in absence of mass incarceration of the Indian public, its mockery was assured.
Not just in Delhi, but all over India, people willfully and blatantly violated the 2 hour ban by Supreme Court on bursting crackers. In Tamil Nadu, the police have registered 1500 cases of violation. During a night, where the policemen could do many other important things, they were keeping a tab on who is bursting a cracker a minute after the deadline and who isn’t. Quite clearly, India is becoming a Tughlaqian state. Thanks to the all powerful but unaccountable judiciary.
Social Changes need Leadership NOT Force of the Unaccountable
Anyone who has ever led people knows that mass changes are not brought in by force. But by fundamental transformation. That is where the leadership quality of the executive comes in. A great leader with mass appeal can make people sacrifice things, habits and ways that were most dear to them. The current PM Modi made an appeal to the wealthy and those who could afford to give up their LPG subsidy so others and more needy could be provided free gas. 11 million – equivalent to the ENTIRE population of New York and Chicago, two of the most populous US cities – freely gave up their subsidies!
Giving up and sacrifice by these 11 million did NOT require force. But leadership and trust.
Contempt of Court – Gift turned into a Weapon
It is said – When all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail to you. Indian Judiciary seems to be in that position now. It has no other instrument other than force and comfort of unbridled power from the provision of “Contempt of Court”. A provision that was created for its own safety and security to save it from tyrannical executives. Instead by using that provision to assert in areas where ONLY executive should be allowed to function because it is representative, answerable, at the mercy of the people; the judiciary has turned a gift into a weapon.
When the judiciary made the judgment on Sabarimala WITHOUT any reference or relation to the basics of Agama Shastra – rules that bind the construction of temples – and entered into governing religious ways of people, it set itself on a path that would only lead to tyranny against the people of a certain faith and devotion.
Those who are the devotees of the temple were opposing those who were hell-bent on desecrating it. And this comical-yet-sad situation led to a siege of the very temple, the judiciary in its infinite wisdom was planning to “free from discrimination”. It instead ended up establishing tyrannical subjugation of the temple devotees!
Unaccountable Power May Erode the critical pillar
Make no mistake – an independent and incorruptible judiciary is the backbone of any democracy. It cannot be played with. But there is no one on this planet who is infallible. And there is no one who knows it all. Every institution and power in any society which prides itself in governance BY the People, OF the People and FOR the People – has to have checks and balances for every institution.
What are the checks on the Indian Judiciary?
With the selection of the judges already a closed process dictated by the judiciary itself via the collegium, there is no “Feedback loop”!
The ONLY way this power center can be impacted is by a “motivated and ideological” executive to ensure that it sets up a relationship of paybacks post the retirement and therefore a way to ensure “loyalty”. A mechanism that Congress has used in the past.
This has and will in future be the ONLY “go to mechanism” to keep the judiciary “in check”. And that is worse still. For it destroys the honesty and integrity of judiciary even further!
In absence of any mandate, feedback loop and accountability, if the Judiciary keeps asserting power when and where it should not and asserts its power willy-nilly via Contempt of Court weaponry, instead of “Looking within”, then it is setting itself on a very slippery slope. The only way is down and complete erosion of trust. With respect of this institution at its lowest ever in the minds of people, erosion of trust will be the last straw.