Saturday, September 22, 2007

On Judicial Intolerance and 'Truth as Defense'

Judicial intolerance to criticism has been a worrying trend affecting our nation, especially in the recent times. The Indian judiciary for all its good work and activism is becoming increasingly intolerant to any form of criticism. The view of the judiciary that by being openly criticized the faith of people in the judiciary will fall is not only undemocratic but reeks of double standards. If being criticized lets a democratic institution fall in the eyes of the people and that is sufficient enough reason not to allow that, then the same should hold true for the legislature and the executive too. Today's judgement by the delhi high court convicting 4 journalists for contempt of court for publishing an article questioning the intentions of former CJI Y.K.Sabharwal more than exemplifies this trend. The incident involving The Hindu and also that involving Arundhati Roy are others which immediately come to memory. While an independent judiciary needs to be cherished and nurtured, being not open to criticism and intolerant is not the way to achieve it in this new age.This increasing intolerance doesn’t augur well for a healthy democracy and no institution should be above criticism. 'Truth as defense' should be the guiding principle.
Having said, it is also equally important for the media to be extra cautious so that frivolous and baseless allegations and criticisms are not levelled. A responsible press is very critical to achieve this so as to ensure that criticisms are based on facts and not with vested interests.
Our democracy cannot afford to have its two strongest pillars and the ones in which people have faith warring against each other

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