Judicial independenceINDIA has once again missed the bus for judicial reforms (Cover Story, November 13). The quest for judicial reforms continues, be it in the appointment of judges or in ensuring judicial accountability. Sitaram Yechury, general secretary, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in his interview, was right in asking the question, “Who are the judges accountable to?”. A transparent system is a must. India can make a beginning with live telecasts of court proceedings, as it is done in countries like the United States and Canada. It is vital for people to believe that the judiciary is beyond manipulation. Let India have the best of both the United Kingdom’s and U.S.’ systems of judicial appointments and accountability.
Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai
THE five-judge bench of the apex court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment as unconstitutional and void is a positive step. Though one of the judges has given a dissenting judgment, the bench asking the Centre to restore the 21-year-old collegium system, with certain suggestions to make it transparent and effective, should set the matter at rest once and for all. The Centre should not take the ruling as a defeat but take steps to make the collegium system functional after consultations with everyone concerned.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad, Telangana
I AM surprised that the debate is about “who” should appoint judges rather than “how’ they should be appointed. At the level of the trial courts, magistrates and Additional District Judges are appointed on the basis of written examinations. But District Judges and judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court are appointed by the collegium, which has its own set of rules. This is why eyebrows are raised. The collegium also makes appointments from the so-called “advocates quota”. Many a time, it is alleged that advocates who are influential in the Bar councils or have access to the panellists of the collegium are made judges.
So the best method is to have the Union Public Service Commission conduct written examinations and appoint only those on the merit list as judges.
L.S. Dharmesh, Department of Law, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Bodapatla Ravinder, Wyra, Telangana
WHAT is wrong if a National Security Adviser works out a cost-benefit analysis or other doctrines? (“The Doval doctrine”, November 13.) That is his job. He cannot unilaterally decide to wage war against anyone. There are the Service Chiefs, the Defence Minister and the President, who is the Supreme Commander. Every country has advisers and think tanks who work out doctrines, and I do not think an NSA can steamroll the Cabinet Committee on Security to accept his viewpoint. Every country is guilty of waging psychological warfare. Before Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the U.S., a high-ranking official in Pakistan said that they had theatre nuclear bombs (nuke babies) distributed in the front and that they were not interested in signing an agreement with the U.S. Sartaj Aziz recently reminded India that Pakistan was a nuclear power. Musharaff said Pakistanis liked the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Their doctrine seems to be to cause small wounds so that India slowly bleeds to death.
G. Venkataraman, Mumbai
THE essay “A failure ordained” by A.G. Noorani (October 30) vividly articulated how the nation lost a golden opportunity to settle the border dispute with China in the 1960s because of the inept approach of our political masters. Without taking stock of ground realities, our leaders seem to have been carried away by populist perceptions. Ham-handedness in dealing with our neighbours still persists and has, in fact, gone from bad to worse, as the latest Nepal blockade indicates.
Ayyasseri Raveendranath, Aranmula, Kerala
N.K. Mujeeb Rahman, Palakkad, Kerala
THOUGH the President has said India cannot allow its core civilisational values that celebrate diversity and promote tolerance and plurality to be wasted, social equality for minorities, particularly Muslims, remains a distant dream. Muslims were aggrieved when the Sangh Parivar outfits lynched Mohammad Akhlaq in Bisara, claiming that he and his family indulged in cow slaughter and were storing and consuming beef in their house, though forensic reports proved later that it was mutton that they were consuming. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is responsible for the communal tension being aggravated by Hindutva outfits.
Abdul Nazar Paloth, Malappuram, Kerala
THE lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq and the attack on his family members has pushed India back to the barbarism of medieval times. The intellectual class should shrug off its fear and prejudices and come forward to raise their voice against the impending fascism that may eat up the vitals of India’s “Unity in Diversity”. India’s cherished principles of secularism, diversity, cultural pluralism, democracy and freedom and its space for dissent are at stake. Prime Minister Modi’s feeble response after a long silence over the Dadri lynching was disappointing. What was more upsetting was his effort to deny responsibility for the incident saying that “law and order” was a State subject. It is the Prime Minister’s duty to douse the communal fire before it engulfs the nation. His lukewarm response to soaring intolerance and reticence betray an inability to emerge as a national leader and indicate that intolerance and vandalism are tacitly condoned.
Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal
REGARDING the Law Commission’s recommendation to consider abolishing the death penalty except in terrorism cases to safeguard national security, I strongly concur with the idea expressed by the eminent jurist Mohan Gopal that the public will always demand the highest punishment available under the legal system, regardless of what it is (“A trapeze act by the Law Commission”, October 30). They demand death by hanging because it is currently the highest punishment in the system. The Law Commission should recommend total abolition of capital punishment and make life imprisonment the highest punishment under the system.
T.S.N. Rao, Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh
VOLKSWAGEN resorted to cheating to fool emission test equipment so that it could sell more diesel cars in the U.S. (“Volkswagen shock”, October 30). Kudos to the young researchers who exposed its tall claims on emission levels in its diesel cars. The CEO had to resign and more heads are likely to roll. The company will have to bear the cost of the recall of millions of cars and pay legal fees and penalties. The general public may never know who authorised such illegal devices and whether those at the top were aware of what was going on. It will take a long time for it to regain the lost faith. It needs to be independently assessed whether the stringent emission specifications for diesel vehicles in the U.S., particularly in California, are unrealistic. This scandal has brought into focus the need for independent investigations into the claims manufacturers make.
D.B.N. Murthy, Bengaluru
A new politics
JEREMY CORBYN brings a breath of fresh air to British politics (“Swing to the left”, October 16). He will, I believe, redefine politics in the U.K. Corbyn’s speech was good, measured and self-deprecating, and showed he actually cares about the poor and the working class.
Santhosh Mathew, Puducherry