Rule of Law does not permit bulldozer justice, says Justice Lokur

By Pervez Bari 

BHOPAL  – “Bulldozer justice is not good. Rule of law doesn’t permit it. While when the state starts delivering instant justice in the form of staged encounters, it is problematic. Lynching incidents are partly fallout of delayed justice.”

The above observations were made by Justice Madan B. Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, while speaking on “Constitutional Morality” at the Bharat Bhavan here on the concluding day of the three-day Bhopal Literature and Art Festival 2024.

Justice Lokur asserted that the government sitting on Supreme Court collegiums’ recommendations, the governors sitting on bills passed by the state assemblies and the speakers sitting on pleas seeking disqualification of legislators under the anti-defection law – all of these are examples of constitutional immorality.

“It is true that the constitution does not prescribe any time limit for the government or the governors or the speakers to take a decision, but then, the constitution is not a manual laying down standard operating procedures (SOPs) for everything,” Justice Lokur said. “Some things – in fact many things – are, and have to be governed by conventions,” he added.

Justice Lokur said that the government objecting to the appointment of a person as a Supreme Court judge because he is supposed to be gay or not acting on SC collegiums’ recommendations for appointments to higher judiciary for months or even years was something which, though not expressly unconstitutional, was against the grain of constitutional morality.

Similarly, he said, governors neither assenting to a bill, nor forwarding it for Presidential consent not returning it to the legislature for reconsideration was also against constitutional morality. Citing the example of Maharashtra, the ex-judge said that the Speaker of the legislative assembly did not decide a petition seeking disqualification of MLAs under anti-defection law even after the SC nudged him.

At a question-and-answer session, Justice Lokur said that five crore cases pending in courts was a travesty of justice. “But it is not an insurmountable problem. There are ways to tackle it and it should be done,” he said. “If I file a case and my grandchildren get justice, it is fatal to the justice system,” Justice Lokur remarked.  The session was moderated by senior advocate of the Supreme Court  of India Bishwajit Bhattacharyya.

He said that problems arise when there is a perception that the Chief Justice is allocating key cases or sensitive cases to a certain judge or a set of certain judges. All judges are equal.”

Honesty, integrity

“Today fingers are raised on a judge being appointed as a Member of Rajya Sabha or a Governor after retirement. It did not happen when M. C. Chaggla was appointed to the Union Council of Ministers. That was because of the change in perception about the honesty and integrity of individuals”, he opined.

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