A dog too has a caste (A Legal Reporter's Diary)
In India's hierarchical society even an unsuspecting dog must have a
caste. So it seemed when in Mirchpur village of Haryana, some dogs of
a Dalit 'basti' dared to bark at Jat boys. There was an angry backlash
by the Jat boys and counter protests by the Dalit owners of the dogs.
To demonstrate their physical and social might, the Jats rallied
around and attacked the Dalit dwellings, resulting in the death of two
people, including one physically challenged girl.
The incident strained the sensibilities of Justice G.S. Singhvi of the
Supreme Court who pointedly asked how 'a dog of a Balmiki basti
barking at a (Jat) child (could) become a cause of violence and murder
of a physically challenged girl'. Justice Singhvi went on to say: 'A
dog could not have been killed on this ground. If that was the case
then all the dogs would have been killed'.
Learn basics, Supreme Court to judges
Judges in the Supreme Court have often expressed concern over the
state of affairs in the appellate judiciary, particularly the high
courts. The other day Justice G.S. Singhvi lamented that a number of
lawyers and even some high court judges did not know the basic
concepts of law.
Justice Singhvi made this observation while assailing a high court for
granting stay in a case. It was on his direction that Solicitor
General Gopal Subramaniam collected facts to prove that high courts
were indiscriminately granting stays in cases involving murder, rape,
dacoity and kidnapping.
Little wonder why Justice Singhvi, through tongue in cheek remarks,
singled out the Punjab and Haryana High Court for often passing verbal
orders. He said the shortest order would be 'dismissed', a longer one
would be 'heard and dismissed' and the longest would be 'heard on
merit and dismissed'.
What court can do, TV can't
Can Valmiki, the author of the epic Ramayana, be described as a dacoit
in a television serial simply because the Supreme Court had made
similar references to him in judgments?
Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi asked the vacation bench to stay
proceedings in a trial court against a television channel for airing a
serial wherein Valmiki was described as a 'thief'. Rohtagi said: 'If I
am guilty of calling Valmiki a thief, so is the Supreme Court'. He
referred to three judgments of the apex court wherein Valmiki was
described as a dacoit.
But the court washed its hands off. It said by airing the information
in a TV serial 'you have taken the information to people who did not
even know it'.
Valmiki, before becoming a saint, was indeed a notorious bandit by the
name of Ratnakar. But for the judges, it was clearly a case of once
bitten twice shy. After all, in actress Khushboo's case, misreporting
of the court's observations on the relationship between the divine
Radha and Krishna had given anxious moments to one particular judge.
Looking for a 'sweet' suicide
If a man intends to commit suicide, will he consume poison with plain
water or with liquor? The point arose during the hearing of a murder
case in Haryana.
The defence lawyer argued that it was a case of suicide wherein the
deceased consumed pesticide (sulphas) powder mixed with drinks. The
prosecution lawyer said anyone intending to commit suicide would
consume pesticide with water and not liquor.
Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan intervened to say he did not know the
practice in Haryana, but if a person was planning to commit suicide in
Gujarat, he would rather do so with sweets. He said Gujaratis are so
fond of sweets that they couldn't think of anything unless it was
coated with sugar.
Thus if someone wanted to commit suicide, he or she would probably
look to sweeten the lethal mix before consuming it. Justice
Radhakrishnan, before being elevated to the Supreme Court, was chief
justice of the Gujarat High Court.
(Parmod Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com.)
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