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From the judgment

Published : Mar 16, 2002 00:00 IST

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Excerpts from the judgment and comments thereon:

''After more than half a century of independence, the judiciary in the country is under a constant threat and being endangered from within and without.''

- such a siege mentality is uncalled for.

''The respondent, who is stated to be an author of name and fame, has landed herself in the dock of the court, apparently by drifting away from the path on which she was traversing by contributing to the art and literature.''

- ergo, the cobbler must stick to his last, the litterateur must not "dabble" in politics.

'' ...the respondent has resorted to all legal tactics and pretences.''

- Arundhati Roy was defended by Shanti Bhushan, a senior advocate, who only urged all the points that could legitimately be urged in her favour. The court's remarks are most unfair.

''The respondent has tried to cast an injury to the public by creating an impression in the mind of the people of this backward country regarding the integrity, ability and fairness of the institution of the judiciary.''

- comment is superfluous.

"The Supreme Court composed of the element from the elite class had their unconcealed sympathy for the haves i.e. the Zamindars... Anti-social elements i.e. FERA violations, bride burners and a whole horde of reactionaries have formed their haven in the Supreme Court."

- in that case, P.N. Duda vs. P.Shiv Shanker & Ors., the S.C. exonerated P. Shiv Shanker. In the instant case, the court upholds the exoneration and observes:

''This, of course, if true, is a criticism of the laws. The Supreme Court as it is bound to do has implemented the laws and in implementing the laws, it is a tribute to the Supreme Court that it has not discriminated between persons and persons. Criminals are entitled to be judged in accordance with law. If anti-social elements and criminals have benefited by decisions of the Supreme Court, the fault rests with the laws and the loopholes in the legislation. The courts are not deterred by such criticisms.''

- a strange exoneration indeed. But not so strange when one reads this:

''It may be noticed that the criticism of the judicial system was made by a person who himself had been the Judge of the High Court and was the Minister at the relevant time. He had made studies about the system and expressed his opinion which, under the circumstances, was held to be not defamatory despite the fact that the court found that in some portion of the speech the language used could have been avoided by the Minister having the background of being the former Judge of the High Court.''

- The court then proceeded to add:

''All citizens cannot be permitted to comment upon the conduct of the courts in the name of fair criticism which, if not checked, would destroy the institution itself.''

- Poor Arundhati Roy is no jurist, she is only a litterateur.

''In the instant case the respondent has not claimed to be possessing any special knowledge of law and the working of the institution of the judiciary. She has only claimed to be a writer of repute.''

- In a judgment which begins by saying "all men are equal before the law," sample this:

''She has not claimed to have made any study regarding the working of this Court or judiciary in the country and claims to have made the offending imputations in her proclaimed right of freedom of speech and expression as a writer. The benefit to which Mr. P. Shiv Shanker, under the circumstances, was held entitled is, therefore, not available to the respondent in the present proceedings.''

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated Mar 16, 2002.)

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