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 Blooming Stars

Impaired Judge and an impaired Judicial System.

            I was shocked to read a news report a few days ago of a justice of the Tamil Nadu High Court defying an order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India transferring him to West Bengal High Court. Challenging the order, he not only stayed the order on his own (suo motu) but also asked a written explanation of the transfer from the Chief Justice of India (CJI). He also ordered the CJI not to interfere with his job in the High Court. From the reports, he had problems for two years with his fellow justices and the chief justice of the state high court regarding assignments of cases. He accused them of discrimination against him and made complaints to the Commissioner of Human Rights. He also barged into the hearing of judges determining the merits of candidates to become judges.

            How honorable is the ‘honorable’ judge? We are left with the anachronistic titles of colonial times in a post-colonial democracy. In an enlightened democracy, we, the people, determine the judicial system, and the judges are our workers as appointees. The Supreme Court rightly pointed out a few days ago that mercy killing is decided by the peoples’ court (the parliament) and not the Supreme Court. The above-mentioned justice of the High Court in my reckoning is extremely arrogant and has fallen from honor through his own actions. He is not in touch with reality as we know. Even if he were discriminated against, he has poor insight; he was impulsive and made poor judgments. Humans can and do make errors, and no one is immune from them. In my practice, I have evaluated and worked with impaired professionals such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, religious ministers, and even mental health workers.

            Some can be rehabilitated with adequate supervision at least for some years. I have assessed future police officers with regard to their mental status, and their suitability for the job. It is difficult to assess the extent of the impaired persons’ culpability for their behavior as it depends on the seriousness of their impairment. Does the justice in question know the gravity and the consequences of his actions? His profession is held in such a high esteem. It is the corner stone of any civilized society. I would like to think he had close mentoring and/or on-going evaluations related to his suitability before he was selected for such an important position that dealt even with people’s life and death among other things. It appears that he has delusion of grandeur or persecution complex. In a society that is looking for good role models, his defiance is unparalleled.

            Now what about the judicial system that allowed the dysfunctional judge to go on for two years? Why did it take two years to stop the recalcitrant judge from decision-making? Why did the Chief Justice of India defer his judgment of stopping the defiant judge to the Chief Justice of the state high court? Was it due to collegiality or a traditional but unnecessary nicety? Has not the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over the high court’s? Why would a dysfunctional justice be transferred to another state? These questions need clear answers. I am also aware that there are laws made in the colonial times still extant in our country. Do our legislators and parliamentarians have any time left to make necessary laws for the smooth functioning of all people after they waste enormous amount of time tearing one another down in the most vicious ways, in demonstrations, in destructive and violent strikes? Our legal system that mostly work for the rich takes years to settle a case has also broken down. It is the paramount duty of us, the people, to elect the right people based on values and fundamental rights to make our legal and judicial systems to work.


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