‘Oh judiciary, don’t write your own dirge’- it was Justice V R Krishna Iyer who pleaded so with our judicial system in the 1990s.
Seeing the decline of the judicial system itself, Justice Iyer and Justice P N Bhagwati had been sternly warning the judges who indulge in inefficiency and loss of credibility. It was after being disheartened at the iniquities taking place inside the court rooms that Krishna Iyer expressed his annoyance citing that the courts were not displaying any interest in the matter of satiating people’s thirst for justice and that even the business management skills shown by an ordinary businessman could not be seen in the functioning of the bar and the bench put together in the matter of dispensing justice. The shocking allegations levelled against the Supreme Court Chief Justice by four senior judges at a press conference they called, was proof that the judiciary had gone much in reverse direction in the last two decades. Though on an earlier occasion, the nation was shocked to hear a Chief Justice stating that the majority of the judges were corrupt, today the people have understood that the cancer of corruption has spread to all parts to such an extent that now they don't get so shocked. It was amidst this that Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra recommended the impeachment of Justice Narayan Shukla, one of the senior judges of the Allahabad High Court. As part of the first step, the CJI has directed to withdraw all judicial duties from Shukla. Although impeachment procedures had earlier been initiated against Kolkata High Court Judge Soumitra Sen and Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, the move was abandoned midway as they both stepped down from their posts.
Justice Shukla is forced to step down in humiliation, in an erosion of the credibility of the judiciary, and at a time when he, who joined the Allahabad HC in 2005, can continue his service up to 2020. The inquiry commission found that Shukla passed an order granting admission illegally to a medical college under Prasad Education Trust in Lucknow bypassing the orders of the Medical Council of India and the Supreme Court, which was seen as part of criminal conspiracy. The Supreme Court had stopped admissions to the college for the academic year 2017-18 and the college was also blacklisted by the Medical Council. It was a rare move on the part of Justice Shukla to pass an order out of line with the directions of the Supreme Court. He was also, found to have made some corrections to the September 1 order, after three days, on September 4. When the bribery case paved way for more controversies, the allegations indirectly raised against Chief Justice Misra also led to suspicions about the apex court. As the matter became worse, an internal inquiry committee was appointed led by Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee on December 8 last year. The committee found that Shukla’s actions blotted the fundamental values of the judiciary. According to the internal procedures of the court, a judge is required to step down from his post after such a finding. The CBI in its chargesheet submitted on the medical bribery case, says that Prasad Education Trust attempted to influence the HC and Supreme Court judges through former Odisha High Court judge I M Quddusi. The interest shown by the High Court and the Supreme Court in the case of Prasad Educational Trust, and the consideration given to it, and was not given to their colleges, had raised suspicions in those like legal experts like Prasant Bhushan, and calls were raised then for a thorough and impartial enquiry.
The impeachment moves against Justice Narayan Shukla is also a blow to the judiciary whose credibility has of late been getting eroded. If he tries to hang on to power in spite of the grave allegations, Parliament will have to proceed with moves to oust him. No doubt, the perception of the people that the cancer of corruption has afflicted even our judiciary, will deprive the citizenry of the last hope about the institution. Whoever it be that uses the sacred precincts of the judiciary to aid and abet those who rule the roost in the sphere of education, need to be brought before justice. The conscience of the populace would demand that the judiciary, which convicted Justice Karnan of contempt of court and sent him to prison, should not only remove Justice Shukla who debased judiciary, from his post, but should be fittingly punished as well for his guilt.