Will Justice (Retd.) Katju be rewarded with a 2nd term as Press Council Chairman?

In politics as, in every other facet of life, TIMING occupies a great significance. A whistle blower blowing the whistle when something wrong is happening is a big deal. It can draw attention to the `wrong’ and help nip it in the bud. But whistle being blown after the thief has bolted cannot be accorded the same respect & must be looked at suspiciously.

Recenlty, we have had two such instnces-

One of an AIIMS Forensic Science doctor claiming that he was coerced/influenced by the powers that be to dilute/manipulate/conceal facts in the sensational death of Ms. Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. Soon after, AIIMS denied the charges levelled by this doctor and it was revealed that he had an axe to grind with AIIMS management relating to his career prospects, promotions etc.Or perhaps it is a strategic move by the doctor for endearing himself to the ruling dispensation by giving it scoopfuls of muck to be thrown at the ousted regime and keeping its key leaders on a tight leash by way of installing probe after probe into their deeds & alleged misdeeds & then using it as a control panel.

The 2nd one is that of highly respected retired Supreme Court Judge & presently Press Council of India Chairman, Justice Markandey Katju’s revelations about a corrupt Madras High Court judge being appointed as Supreme Court Judge despite an adverse reports from Justice Katju himself and the Intelligence Bureau.

Both these relate to events that occurred during the tenure of UPA government. But surprisingly, neither the doctor in question nor Justice Katju blew the whistle at the appropriate time. They both waited for a regime antagonistic to the UPA govt. occupy the seat of power in Delhi before spilling the beans, if one can call it that.

Among the two persons involved here, Justice Katju occupies a comparatively widely respected position in public eye than a careerist doctor fighting for a promotion here & an increment there. Also, as author of some landmark judgments as a judge, many of which had sermon-like flavor, one has higher expectations from Justice Katju. It therefore becomes important that Justice (Retd) Markandey Katju’s actions be examined under an electron microscope to see even the tiniest of their elements. It thus becomes imperative that Justice Katju answers these critical questions without losing temper or walking out of studios in a huff or without getting into a reprisal mode-

1. Dear Justice Katju, Why didn’t you blow the whistle on this Madras High Court Judge story earlier. Are there any rules/oath etc. As an SC judge that bar you from doing so? Anyway, it has been three years since you retired from SC in September 2011. Why did you sleep over this truth all these three long years? Even bureaucrats don’t wait that long to write books revealing the `dirt’ in the system!

2. Were you waiting for the UPA Govt. (that appointed you as Chairman of the Press Council) to go so that you don’t annoy the guys who gave you this lucrative post-retirement position within a few days of your retirement & thereby risk being removed from this post?

3. By raising it now and giving it an anti-UPA twist, are you trying in some way to score brownie points in the eyes of the NDA regime which will soon have to take a decision on appointing a Press Council Chairman once you retire on October 4, this year?

4. Of late, you have also been aggressively articulating your views on stuff like Common Civil Code, Muslim women wearing burqas and Article 370 etc. And your stand over these is quite in sync with the thinking of the ruling party and the `parivar’it belongs to.

Not that there is anything wrong in it and many people would have ideas that are in sync with someone else’s thinking. So what?

One is just wondering about the TIMING! Is it a mere coincidence or is it part of a well conceived Mile Sur Mera Tumhara strategy to impress the regime in Raisina Hill about you being on their side & thus subtly appealing to it to count on you? Is all this being done with an aim to get an extension as PCI chief sir?

Sir, with your kind of wisdom, you’d agree that one of the toughest things to earn & retain is credibility. In my view, your credibility would grow leaps & bounds if you were to answer the questions above and simultaneously declare that you won;t be accepting any post-retirement positions offered by this government and/or foundations & bodies linked to it and companies/institutions supporting it overtly or covertly.

Allow me to clarify that the above questions do not in any way dilute the positive impact & desirability of whistle blowing, if the term can be applied to justice Katju’s recent disclosures. The judiciary, like every other organ of our system and psyche, needs to be cleansed & purged of corrupt elements, including seemingly `soft & acceptable’ corruption that doesn’t involve illicit transfer of cash or valuable physical assets between two persons – one in position of power & the other at the receiving end of his/her power.

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