NJAC Judgment II: Jasti Chelameswar J

Honourable. Honourable. Honourable.

Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir has shared the Bench with Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar for days on end. Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir was sworn in at the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court on the same day as Hon’ble Justice Ruma Pal. They are friends. It is widely rumored, Hon’ble Justice Ruma Pal facilitated Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir’s elevation to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar has cited Hon’ble Justice Ruma Pal thrice in his NJAC Judgment. The citation is unmerited. Is Hon’ble Justice Ruma Pal truly original? Is she truly an authority on the Independence of the Judiciary? Or is the citation in deference of the “philosophical relationship” Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar shared with Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir? “I wish that I were wrong”, but Honb’le Justice J. Chelameswar’s dissent is the worst I have read in a long time. It is even worse than when Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar said, “I shall pronounce my reasons for such disagreement shortly” in the President-Saving Case. We now know about the Twitter Addict Judge [See my earlier post, Agent Katju] and the Lazy Judge [See my earlier post, Almost There, Mr. Rohtagi] but what about Hon’ble Justice Shukla Kabir Sinha? The Attorney General mentioned her too in May, 2015 [See my earlier post, Hon’ble Justice Shukla Kabir Sinha]. Why was not she mentioned as maybe the CJI’s Sister Judge? It is all inter-related. And perhaps related in ways that neither Gautam Bhatia nor I can fathom. Do not get me wrong. I respect and value Bhatia’s opinion. But how is this a “powerful dissent”? It is empty rhetoric. Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar starts with the question: “Have we acquired independence greater than our intelligence, maturity and nature could digest”? And ends with a telling remark, “reform that you may preserve”. The Judge then leaves it all on the ‘Future’ to comprehend.

In essence, Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar disagrees with the proposition, Primacy of the Judicial Branch in the Appointments Process is Part of the Basic Structure of The Constitution. This disagreement has compelled me onto a completely different journey. When we talk about the Basic Amenities of Life – we could perhaps mention three or four amenities. When we talk about the Basic Instinct of Life – we could perhaps mention one or two instincts. However, when we talk about the Basic Structure of The Constitution – we have an endless number of features to mention. How is the Structure, Basic anymore?

Primacy of the Judicial Branch in the Appointments Process is part of the Non-Negotiable Structure of the Constitution. When Hon’ble Justice J. Chelameswar tries to justify the inclusion of the Law Minister and the Eminent Person(s) in the NJAC, he appears to be trying too hard, too soon. All very Honourably.

On a bright note, Abhinav C. has earned a deserving mention. For that, 2 points. Remember the “Doctrinal Looseness” episode?

Judgment Rating – 4/10.