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'Judicial activism is good for the country'


The Director of CBI is the nominee of the Prime Minister. When such is the case, how can the CBI director be impartial, asks... Madhav Godbole By Chandran Iyer
CHANDRAN IYER | Issue Dated: November 30, -0001, New Delhi
Tags : Madhav Godbole | Babri Masjid demolition | Judicial activism |

Madhav Godbole was India's home secretary when the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992 and when a series of bomb blasts devastated Mumbai on March 12, 1993. In his book Unfinished Innings, he has given a candid  account of what went wrong  in the corridors of power in New Delhi. Excerpts from an Interview.

Do you think judiciary should  keep  away from the issues that are in the  political domain?
In some countries it is away. But in India the judiciary feels there is no reason for it to compartmentalize it. Anybody who feels that his fundamental rights  are adversely affected has a right to knock on the doors of the court. Hence a number of decisions taken by the Supreme Court have not gone down well with the politicians.

Are you in favour of judicial activism?
Initially I was not that much. But over a period of time I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary. Take the case of electoral reforms. This is an issue which has been pending with the government since several years and no government is interested to implement it. Thus for the last 40 years there has been no movement on this. Whether it was the Congress government, UPA, NDA , VP Singh government, IK Gujaral government or the Janata government, every one  of them made promises for implementing electoral reforms, but no one did it.  In such a case where does a common man go? This is why I am in favour of judicial activism.

The SC has  struck down a provision in the electoral law that protects a convicted lawmaker from disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal in higher courts.  What will be the political fallout?
We will get a clean government as cleaner people will enter politics. You are not permitting them to enter today. At present hardcore criminals who are sitting in the jails are able to contest the elections. One of them for example from Bihar got elected in 1999 Lok Sabha election with a thumping majority of over 2 lac votes. This man is none other than Pappu Yadav whose voting percentage was highest in Bihar. Another case relates to Pappu Kalani in Maharashtra  who got elected to Maharashtra legislature while he was in jail. I feel the supreme court has taken the right decision. Ideally it should have come from our elected representative but because it did not come, people had to go to Supreme court.

Do you think that the judiciary is at times going overboard? For in- stance, the Madras High Court has ruled in a judgement that gives a new twist to the concept of premarital sex. It ruled that if an unmarried couple of the right legal age “indulges in sexual gratification,’’ it will be consid- ered a valid marriage and they could be termed “husband and wife.’’
I don’t think so. This lady was staying with the man for several years and had  children out of him. But this man was disowning his responsibility .That lady when she went to the court and said that though they are not married they were living together for several years and they were his children and how do I go about it now?  Therefore as times are changing so also the laws.  

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017