Dear Hon’ble Justice C. S. Karnan,
I know it, sir. Writing to a judge on his views expressed in court about a case coming up before him is not good manners. But one may say things to a judge on what he says outside the court on other matters – for example, on music or on the condition of court buildings.
Sir, last week you came out of your hallowed seat of the Madras High Court, addressed press persons at its gates and became the centre of news stories across India. They made a sad reading, particularly your accusations against your brother judges, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Chief Justice of India and some judges of the Supreme Court. I wish to say a few things, in grief and in goodwill. I would just touch upon a thing or two from what you spoke. What I say here is relevant, though not central to what you were announcing that day.
By now everyone knows you are a member of the Scheduled Castes, as you said to newsmen. A lawyer arguing before your court or his client in the case would not be concerned about that fact. The reason is simple. The most important thing for any such lawyer or client in any court is this: he should get a judgement that pleases him. If a litigant’s case has merits and he gets a final judgement favouring him the winning party and his lawyer will admire the judge, but the losing party, or at least his lawyer who should know better, will also have respect for the judge for a fair judgement. So a good judge – man or woman, of any religion or caste, of any region in India – is really liked by lawyers who are active in the courts. That way, a judge is perhaps better placed than the holder of a political office like a minister in government. A minister may have opponents, from his own caste or from any other, from his own party or from the Opposition, constantly scheming and trying to pull him down. A judge, especially a High Court judge, cannot be ousted easily and he has only to deal with lawyers who appear before him – and not battle with opponents trying to trip him or see him out of office. A judge is less hamstrung in his work by his religious, regional or caste backgrounds.
So lawyers doing their cases in a court, especially a High Court, cannot have antipathy towards a good judge, whatever his background. Since their work in courts brings them their daily bread they cannot feel otherwise – except for those not serious with their work or not seen much inside court rooms. Like, for example, when I buy apples I would get good ones from a seller, whoever he is, rather than go for bad ones from a seller who belongs to my caste. Also, why have the founders of Microsoft and Google, who are Americans, employed Indians – Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai – rather than Americans as chief executive officers in the US? Because those businessmen feel that, at this time, their Indian officers would deliver best. Lawyers who contest cases in courts think likewise, expecting results from judges hearing and deciding their cases.
Those who fight predominantly about race, religion, gender or caste of a judge, pushing merit and good work in the background, are politicians who look for votes in a bickering about those issues. But lawyers and clients concerned with cases in courts would care less about those things as they look for good judgements. It is essential to see this difference – and to keep polluting effects of politics away from campuses of law colleges and law courts.
Yes, sir. Caste exists for real in Hindu society, with its wide baneful fallout on public life. Solutions have to come from within that society, not outside. If at all we can solve them little by little, people should first see examples in the conduct of men and women at the top in many places, who talk less about caste differences, ignore some irritants here and there and go about their work gently with a smile – that is an art like writing a judgement.
Sir, there is yet another side. When one parent seriously faults and fights with another in front of their children, the children feel left out and distressed. That is how the lawyer community should feel today. I think every parent must take care.
Very warm regards.
R. Veera Raghavan
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Copyright © R. Veera Raghavan 2016