Skip to main content

Credibility crisis: India's top institutes increasingly turn inefficient with ripple effect down to the bottom

By Pushkar Raj*
The credibility of India’s top institutions has lately suffered, affecting governance and democracy in the country. Its strong indication came in the form of the impeachment motion against the chief justice of India which was rejected by the vice-president and was subsequently challenged in the highest Court.
When the case challenging legality of the vice president’s action came before the court, the petitioner sought clarification on the bench hearing the case expecting that the chief justice could not pick and choose judges (bench) that heard his own case. But the court refused to give explanation, meaning that the court would not follow the first principle of justice in its own conduct that one cannot be a judge in his/her own case. It is logical that such a court could not be expected to deliver justice fairly and therefore the petition was withdrawn.
It is a crucial self -goal, akin to a sabotage from within putting question marks on the highest court’s ability to enforce the constitution fairly, thus damaging democracy in the country.
But it is not only the Supreme Court that has failed to inspire confidence, even the parliament of India has failed to discuss, debate, moderate and legislate on urgent public issues. For instance, the Lok Sabha functioned for only 33. 6 hours in 28 days during recent budget session passing two bills in 14 minutes. It passed the annual budget for the nation without discussion and the speaker of house disallowed to take up a no confidence motion against the government.
In a cabinet system of government, it is the Prime Minister’s duty to conduct the proceedings of parliament with the help of his/ her cabinet. However, the present prime minister took little interest in doing so, instead after the washout of the parliament session, he observed a day’s fast with his cabinet colleagues and cleared his conscience. It is like sinning to national loss and bathing to personal purity, adding little value to the highest executive office of the country.
The Reserve Bank of India sets the monetary policy of the country but it took merely a day to approve government’s advice on demonetisation without giving thought on its rationale or how it would handle post-demonetisation situation. Consequently, 99 per cent currency came back at the cost of more than a hundred human lives and huge loss to nation as economy slowed down due to unavailability of currency in a cash dependent system.
For democracy to function, election commission must be beyond reproach. However, election commission sullied its image by its conduct during the Gujarat election postponing election dates against norms and by disqualifying AAP legislatures of Delhi assembly without giving them a fair hearing thus inviting Delhi high courts criticism that struck down its decision.
Inefficient and self-perpetuating institutions at top have a ripple effect down to bottom. For example, the Chennai High Court could not decide on the case of disqualification of 18 legislators for five months, causing a government to continue in the office that might be found to be functioning illegally for all these months. It finally delivered a split verdict recently lingering the matter indefinitely, more in line with other high courts across the country where 4.2 million cases are waiting to be heard.
Similarly, the state assemblies of UP, Gujarat and Rajasthan functioned for 17, 25 and 33 days in 2017, and the latter passed a legislation granting a 'former chief minister' an official bungalow with 9 employees for life , under the patronage of sitting Chief minister who hopes to become a 'former chief minister' soon as election are due shortly in the state.
The institutions are the last resort of the people for getting justice in a democratic society. If they are unable to do so because the institutions are weak, self-perpetuating, unaccountable and politically influenced, then democracy becomes a farce and the leader who presides over such a spectacle is judged by the history harshly, be it Indira Gandhi or Narender Modi.
In this context, learning from history is useful. India’s first prime minister, Pandit Nehru is revered largely because he built, nurtured and respected institutions that, he recognised, outlast individuals who, howsoever popular or clever, are merely slaves of time in a democracy.
---
*Melbourne based researcher and author, former national general secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties ​

Comments

Uma said…
Just looking at the picture of Sinha felicitating those accused of lynching and justifying this by saying they are innocent until proved guilty is sickening. What about the victims? Weren't they held guilty without being given the chance to prove themselves innocent?

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.