We, The People, Became Independent In 1947. Not The Judiciary

22/10/2015 8:34 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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A lot is being said about the "independence of the judiciary". The members of the executive haven't shown how poking their nose into judicial appointments via the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) increases this independence, but even they say they respect it.

In other words, very few are questioning the independence of the judiciary. But let us do that: should the judiciary be an independent body?

No, it shouldn't. It wasn't the judiciary which became independent in 1947. The people of India did. The people need to have control over the judiciary and nobody can deny it. What's so sacrosanct about it, anyway? After all, it's a machine with human parts interpreting a book mostly written by the British and amended here and there by Indians.

"[The] whole debate triggered by the NJAC, and the Supreme Court's decision to strike it down, sidesteps the real issue... people don't have control on how they're governed in this country."

Everything in the Constitution of India can and must be questioned by every generation of Indians. It's a fundamental right whether or not it's endorsed in the book, and we shall have it. Even the idea that the "fundamental structure of the constitution cannot be changed" is unacceptable. Who decides what this "fundamental structure" is? If it has already been decided for us by dead men, however smart and patriotic, how are we, the living, in control?

Therefore, the whole debate triggered by the NJAC, and the Supreme Court's decision to strike it down, sidesteps the real issue. That issue is that people don't have control on how they're governed in this country.

Bots with usernames like Judiciary and Executive run the show here. (Notice how the legislative doesn't even figure in the debate. There are several reasons, the foremost being the fact there isn't any real separation of powers between the executive and the legislative in India. Remember that the Lok Sabha appoints the Prime Minister.)

Why do I call them bots? Because we, the people of India, have no real control on either the judiciary or the executive/legislative. I'm talking about the Central executive and the Central legislative. It's they who matter. Their state-level counterparts are designed to nod to everything passed down from the top. In fact, state governments have often been described as "glorified municipalities". And needless to say, there is no such thing as "state judiciary" in the real sense of the term.

Who controls the judiciary bot? The Constitution of India which, as I said, is mostly British and tweaked some by a set of high-power Indians at a time when the people of India weren't exactly known for their political acumen. It's a book that controls the judiciary, not us. The book needs to be rewritten from scratch as I argue in my book, but the judiciary won't have it. If we can't change what's written in the book that ultimately controls us, it's a misnomer to say we're in control.

Who controls the executive/legislative bots? They say we vote these "institutions" to power, and there is an iota of truth in it. But they lie at such a large distance from the people of India that it's impossible to say that we control them. No, they're better called bots, and they do whatever they want, all on their own. They regularly get their batteries recharged and as soon as it's done, there they go. Their state-level counterparts are better suited to be termed as "controlled by us", but heck, they don't have any real power; almost all power rests with the Centre.

So, this is the real problem. As usual the entire establishment wants you to look elsewhere. It's designed to make you look elsewhere. In fact, it was designed when you were looking elsewhere, too. That's why it needs a complete redesign.

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