Sunday, May 31, 2015

IIT-M's derecognition of APSC

I found it difficult to take a view on the recent happenings in IIT-Madras till I came across the following report in Times of India:

"Author Arundhati Roy sent an email to APSC - the banned student group, expressing her support. "You have my unhesitating support. You have touched a nerve — what you are saying and seeing ie: that casteism and corporate capitalism go hand in hand is the last thing the authorities and the government want to hear. Because they know that you are right. It is the most dangerous thing for them to hear right now," she wrote. "

It is clear that social saboteurs of different hues are joining hands to create havoc in an institution known for creditable academic performance. 

A report in The Hindu says, "NCSC Chairman P.L. Punia on Sunday said that a notice has been issued to IIT-M and a reply has been sought.
“I have issued a notice to the institute and sought its reply after taking note of the incident myself. We will take action in this regard,” Mr. Punia said, adding, “Youngsters must get freedom of speech on campuses. Imposing bans thus is like suppressing their voices. This is completely wrong.” "
M.L.Punia is an MP in the Rajya Sabha representing the Congress party. If politicians are appointed as chiefs of Commissions, one can expect them to politicise every issue.

Added on 1st June:

Following link is an enabler for a meaningful analysis of the issue under discussion:

Added on 2nd June:

Pratap Bhanu Mehta's views carried in The Indian Express:

Unmitigated hypocrisy

Following is a tweet of Shashi Tharoor:

"Stimulating discussion w/ & of India mainly through the prism of violence against women "

Imagine Tharoor discussing violence against women! There never has been a more sanctimonious humbug.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Manmohan Singh has claimed in all humility and in all duplicity that there was no scam and no corruption under his watch. This daredevil mendacity has spawned a neologism: Scamnesia.

A leader is supposed to protect his team's lawful actions and not illegitimate / immoral conduct. Singh facilitated growth of dacoits in his ministry and feels no remorse over his shameful behaviour. He must be brought to justice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Is Tata Motors' Rights issue right?

Tata Motors Ltd. recently issued rights shares. The issue closed on 2nd of May, 2015. By this time, the company should have had an inkling of its financial performance for the whole year 2014-15 including the 4th quarter. However, the shareholder-applicants were aware of performance upto 31st December, 2014 only.

In the abridged letter of offer, the company mentioned that its sales of vehicles in January, 2015 was 5% more than in 2014 and its sales in February, 2015 was 11% more than in 2014. Thus a shareholder could only have assumed that things were either better in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14 or atleast things were not worse.

Accordingly, the market expectation as reported in the media was that net profit on consolidated basis would be Rs.4150 crore for the 4th quarter. It actually turned out to be Rs.1747 crore only. Standalone EPS for 2014-15 is negative at Rs.14.72. The company says that the adverse results are caused by 1) higher depreciation and amortisation and 2) adverse MTM of unmatured hedges not eligible for hedge accounting. These factors must have been in the knowledge of the company though the shareholders could not have foreseen them in the normal course.

Thus there was definitely asymmetric information available with the company and its shareholders.  In a situation like this, a well-managed trust-worthy company could have stalled the rights issue process and earned more goodwill. Legal implications of this issue are not clear. But, in an ethical sense, this is a stigma on Tata Motors.

Faith in God

The Hindu reports:

"Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram has congratulated AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on becoming Chief Minister for the fifth term.

He, however, took a dig at the series of yagams, padayatras and processions organised by the partymen for the past six months praying her return. “This has lessened my belief in God,’ he said."

Why should this reduce his belief in God? One's faith / belief in God cannot be dependent on what others do or do not do. Chidambaram may think that one should not pray for material success though I do not think that he is so spiritually evolved. He may be of the view that God should not have granted such prayers. Who is he to decide what God must do? Or, he may just be having a dig at what he thinks is superstitious. An agnostic may say that even belief in God is superstitious. Whichever way one analyses Chidambaram's comment, one's confidence in Chidambaram's logic is reduced.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Manmohan Singh's "clean image"

Pradip Baijal, a former Chairman of TRAI,  has made some observations on Manmohan Singh, Dayanidhi Maran and CBI which throw some light on UPA's stand on morality. These are mentioned in Times of India.

"Agency (CBI) forced me to implicate industrialist Ratan Tata and former Cabinet minister Arun Shourie if I wanted to save myself."

" CBI harasses upright civil servants and political opponents of the government in power".

 "They (CBI) would alternately threaten to harm me and my family and then dangle a carrot of sparing me if I implicated Ratan Tata and Arun Shourie,"

"In the 2G case, they (CBI) had told me that there was an open and shut case against me, and an FIR would be filed soon, and I would be arrested. Perhaps the CBI officers were trying to treat their bruised egos at the instance of their old masters. They had warned me in each case that I would be harmed if I did not cooperate."

"This was suspiciously similar to Dayanidhi Maran's threats in 2004. It only dawned on me later that perhaps this was being done either by Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja, acting together or by corporates who were trying to protect their self-interest. Dayanidhi Maran knew exactly what I discussed with the PM. I can only surmise that they were all working in tandem, possibly along with the PM (referring to Manmohan Singh), (P) Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal at different stages, and were guiding the CBI enquiry, getting files removed and, making false statements in the media to make a case against the erstwhile Trai."

" CBI has deteriorated into an instrument of state power, particularly during the terms of the last two directors, A P Singh and Ranjit Sinha."

"In 2004, after a routine meeting, Ratan Tata told me that he was being threatened by Dayanidhi Maran that unless he accepted the merger of Tata Sky with Sun TV, he would ruin him. Ratan Tata refused to cooperate."

"UPA government removed important files from TRAI and telecom ministry to hide its wrongdoings when scandal hit the headlines in 2009-2010."

" Maran told me that he was "Prime Minister, Telecom" and would take all decisions on telecom. "He warned that I would come to severe harm if I did not comply with his instructions. He was proved right, since I did face severe hardships later."

 "...The PM also told me to cooperate with my minister in the coalition government he headed, since non-cooperation could compromise his government". 

 "They (CBI) had warned me in each case (cases related to 2G scam and disinvestments) that I would be harmed if I didn't cooperate. Incidentally, this was exactly what the eminent economist Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) had told me would happen if I did not cooperate in their scheme of things in the 2G case." 

"Had I agreed to their (Manmohan Singh and Maran) suggestions and not given the report, the 2003 special regime would have continued and UPA would have held NDA or TRAI (including me) responsible for the 2G scam. The PM would not have accepted his responsibility, just as he shirked responsibility in Coalgate scam."

There are many instances where Manmohan Singh compromised with standards of ethical governance. If despite these, there are people who continue to believe in his honesty, it only shows how gullible we are. It is difficult to judge who among Manmohan Singh, Dayanidhi Maran, A.Raja, P.Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal was the worst crook. It is a pity that our criminal justice system has not yet found any of them guilty. One hopes that Modi and his ministers will have a better sense of values.

On Narendra Modi

Very few assessments of Narendra Modi are balanced. There are carping criticisms and enthusiastic encomiums. Even estimates are rare. Therefore, it is refreshing to come across a logical review of Modi in the first year of primeministership by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of Centre for Policy Research appearing in The Indian Express. Some of his observations:

"There is ambition, and even a hint of liberality that ambition brings. But there is the temptation to knock down all opponents. It has been hard to take his measure, because the man and his measures have become one. And the man, after one year, still remains elusive."

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi provokes unprecedented passion. Both his supporters and his critics fail to keep a steady grip on his vices and virtues. He is hard to grasp because he is the product of a peculiarly contradictory moment in Indian democracy. He is a centraliser who looms large. A sense of his self is infused in every speech. Some yearned for exactly this kind of leader. But his sense of self-legitimation also draws power from democracy: an architect of his own fortune, who represents, in his own way, a deepening vernacularisation of democracy. He is seeking legitimacy in the eyes of the people: the compulsive desire to project an image is in service of this goal. But it also means that he will don different costumes, languages and even headgear when necessary. The script will evolve as he reads the people."

"Modi is, in a strange way, a leader who seems to wants to fold in all the qualities of those he claims to represent. This is, by its very nature, a quixotic enterprise, full of tensions. It is often asked: Who is the real Modi? The one articulating lofty and generous aspirations or the one whose government can have streaks of paranoia and petulance?"

" But institutions that supposedly protect individuals: justice systems, police, bureaucracy, the CBI, the CVC, the RTI are in disrepair. Many of their pathologies were not the creation of this government. But there is an anxiety that this government could match existing pathologies with a new efficiency, to produce even more detrimental outcomes."

"It is hard to take his measure. All the contradictions of India play out in his persona."

P.Chidambaram on twitter

P.Chidambaram has started tweeting. He has vowed to keep his tweets serious. It is interesting to note who he is following. To start with, he follows seven official twitters. They are:

1.Financial Times
3.Wall Street Journal
4.The Economist
5.The Indian Express
6.Indian National Congress
7.Karti P.Chidambaram.

The first four indicate Chidambaram's seriousness. The sixth is obligatory. The seventh is affiliational. The Hindu is a noted omission.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shashi Tharoor's fulmination

As the following tweets reveal, Shashi Tharoor is convinced that the TimesNow reporter was drunk. How is he so sure? Is it that if the sybarite is questioned on strong suspicion, the questioner should be dismissed as intoxicated? Tharoor, thanks for admitting that you are human. We thought you are divine! It is not a human quality to brush aside the death of one's spouse in mysterious circumstances as normal, to cremate the body (to destroy evidence?) with inexplicable celerity, to coach the witnesses to lie, to go about dating ladies from foreign countries including those from hostile nations even when functioning as a minister thus jeopardising India's security, to have an ugly spat with one's spouse in a flight and hack into spouse's mobile / twitter handle and misinform the public that everything in the relationship is normal etc. Tharoor also had the super-human ability to influence his in-laws to assert that nothing was amiss about Sunanda Pushkar's cruel murder!

Has Tharoor filed an FIR against the so-called vandals who smashed his office gate and broke windows? Or, has he stage-managed all these to gain sympathy? Has the facile actor, a duplicitous philanderer,  overplayed his cards?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

0 / 10 for Modi

Rahul Gandhi has gracefully assessed Narendra Modi's performance as prime minister so far and has granted a zero out of ten score to him. There is an apocryphal report that when Rahulji was asked how he would rate Modi out of 100, he unhesitatingly said, "maybe 30". Apart from other subjects, the crown prince is good in math also.

It is a bit surprising that N.R.Narayana Murthy has nothing but fulsome praise for Modi. Is he aiming at presidency?

"Calling for support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murthy on Wednesday said a lot of good things have happened in the past year and all political parties and citizens should “rally behind the PM.”
“We have a PM who is enthusiastic and is working hard... People, all parties and opposition should rally behind him,” he said.

"Self-appointed liars and scum"

Shashi Tharoor claims that he will speak to the police and not to "self-appointed liars and scum". He was visibly furious when he lashed out at a TimesNow reporter. He has since clarified that his reference was only to a 'scummy channel' and not the entire media. Yes, if someone asks a relevant question, he is a liar and a scum.

Incidentally, no one appoints oneself in a negative way, as a liar or scum. It is very rare for Tharoor to make an obvious mistake as this. One may call Tharoor a self-appointed Mr.Innocent and not a self-appointed Mr.Guilty. Knowing the dilatoriness associated with our criminal justice system and confident that his connections will help to hide his unforgivable guilt, Tharoor generally maintains his cool. He claims that he cracked after a long-distance flight.

All known circumstances point towards Tharoor's involvement in Sunanda Pushkar's murder. Delhi police should have demanded his custodial interrogation a long time ago. If the nefarious Casanova goes scot-free despite the heinousness of his crime, it will be one more blot on the Delhi police.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shashi Tharoor on Narendra Modi

It is funny that a person like Shashi Tharoor for whom nothing is unbecoming tweets like this. Human beings should have some conscience.
Shashi Tharoor
I do wish @PMOIndia would not "dis" our country abroad. It is most unbecoming, to put it very mildly. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chaos in Delhi

Recent developments in administration of Delhi are both tragic and hilarious. The ping-pong of verbal fusillade between the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister can only be compared with churlishness of children or bellicosity between warring nations.

Arvind Kejriwal delights in anarchic situations. A typical megalomaniac, he seems to believe that he is the only honest leader and his is the only honest political party (ofcourse save Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav). The situations he creates will probably be used as excuses for non-performance. His antics are short-sighted and adverse to societal welfare. Condemning all industrialists as scheming marauders is bad politics and worse economics. Certainly, Delhi deserves better.

It is time for judiciary to intervene and hold perpetrators of unconstitutional acts (whether it is the LG or the CM) accountable. This is , no doubt, only a pious wish because the judiciary has its own foibles to set right. No constitutional post will have immunity from legal action if its methods are ultra-vires the Constitution. Administration is not the proper forum for entertainment or settlement of scores. Anyone acting unconstitutionally should be barred from executive, legislative or gubernatorial posts for life.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rahul Yadav's win-win strategy

Rahul Yadav, a drop-out from IIT, Bombay and presently CEO of is a brash 26-year old entrepreneur who has no patience for what he thinks is nonsense. He branded the Directors of his company 'intellectually incapable' of understanding his strategy. He questioned the motive of the Times group (whose entity 'Magicbricks' competes with in publishing an article undermining his company. He has cautioned the companies trying to poach his employees to behave.

Among all these difficult-to-justify moves, he has announced his intention to allot his shares supposed to be worth Rs.150 crore to his employees who number more than 2,000. He has said,  “I am just 26 and it is too early in life to get serious about money and the like.” It is at once a noble gesture and a shrewd business strategy of involving all staff members in company's development. It even sounds too good to be true.

Odd are the ways of start-up upstarts. Their maverick behaviour intrigues and infuriates those connected with them as financiers, suppliers etc. This is perhaps the first time that any Indian entrepreneur in his twenties has decided not to care two hoots for Mammon. 

Warren Buffett took a different stance towards giving up wealth. He decided to donate his wealth only in the later part of his life because he felt he must multiply his money a thousand times before becoming an effective philanthropist. Of course, Yadav's gesture many not qualify for philanthropy. It is nevertheless a brave innovative move that deserves emulation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Jayalalithaa appeal case: Act in haste; repent at leisure

In page 852 of his judgement, Justice Kumaraswamy has, inter alia,  included the loan raised by Jaya Publications amounting to Rs.1.50 crore from Indian Bank. While totalling all such loans, the figure has apparently been taken as Rs.15 crore thus accounting for a mistake of Rs.13.50 crore.

This mistake is fatal to the learned judge's rationale for exonerating Jayalalithaa and others. This is a classic instance of a person deciding first and appending reasons later on. Once the decision-maker has started owning a judgement whatever be its demerits, the tendency will be to be careless in providing basis for the decision.

It would appear that the judge has come under a lot of pressure, self-imposed or externally originated, and has bungled in the process. The Supreme Court erred in imposing an impossible time limit for disposal of appeal. This was aggravated by Justice Dipak Misra's philosophical advice on how to handle evidence. If prosecution had been allowed to play its expected role, the blunder under reference might have been avoided.

In sum (pun not intended), judiciary has egg on its face.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pragmatism mocks at morality?

In the Jayalalithaa appeal case, Justice C.R.Kumaraswamy has gone by the precedent set in the year 1977 by the Supreme Court. The learned (pragmatic?) judge has also calculated the value of disproportionate assets in a way that intentionally or otherwise went in Jayalalithaa's favour.

Irrespective of whether Jayalalitha (as her name was then spelt) was corrupt or not in her initial term as chief minister (1991-96), her obscene demonstration of wealth was repulsive. There is one school of thought that discharging her from corruption charges sends a wrong signal to others, would incentivise corrupt behaviour atleast on the part of others and would further erode people's diminishing faith in judiciary. This is no doubt a noble thought.

On the practical side, what would have been the consequence of the High Court upholding the finding of the trial judge, Justice Michael D'Cunha? Probably, DMK would have replaced AIADMK as the ruling party post- 2016 state elections. DMK's redoubtable leader is alleged to be even more corrupt and on top of that, his family is mired in the 2G scam. So the consequence might not have pleased the protagonists of  theory of morality.

If Kumaraswamy's mind was agonising over the need to deliver an ethically unexceptionable judgement that would not lead to unintended consequences, he would have been caught in the horns of an intractable dilemma. If he were an adherent to 'nishkama karma', his judgement would have been otherwise. In the event, he has proved to be pragmatic and a skillful practitioner of the art of the possible by choosing a particular precedent set by the Supreme Court and in the process perhaps ignoring some other precedents to the contrary.

This raises an important legal issue. The repertoire of legal precedents set by the apex court is so rich and varied that it is possible for any lower court to cherry-pick a precedent to justify a judgement. There is an urgent need for a group of jurists to collate binding principles / precedents in the area of corruption. Else, there is no purpose in judicial pontifications that "we have zero-tolerance for corruption". As Justice Kumaraswamy has shown, there is now a 10% tolerance for corruption !

Judgments and Decision making

A decision made by a judge issues out as a judgment. Judges are also human beings. Therefore, they go through the same decision-making process as anybody else.

It is common knowledge that a banker first decides to lend or not to a particular borrower and then the credit proposal or justification for sanction / rejection is phrased accordingly. This is the reason why many loans are born out of impressions. While arriving at decisions affecting others, we always go by perceptions or impressions about others. This normal sequence involved in decision making, that is conclude first and then reason it out, may appear to be putting the cart before the horse. But it saves a lot of time and avoids prolonged haziness or dilemma.

In the court of law, there is bound to be adversarial interpretations about the crucial 'facts'; hence, perceptions of the presiding judge becomes significant. In the Jayalalithaa appeal case, the Karnataka High Court judge Mr.Kumaraswamy has drawn extensive support from a 1977 Supreme Court decision in the matter of Krishnananda Agnihotri vs State of M.P. This case dealt with amounts less than Rs.2 lacs of disproportionate assets. The Supreme Court found that assets were out of proportion to known sources of income by a marginal amount which was less than 10% and therefore the accused was held not guilty. Justice Kumaraswamy considered this a relevant precedent whereas another judge having a different perception about Jayalalithaa or politicians in general might have dismissed this case as irrelevant in view of incomparable amounts.

If there is an appeal in the Supreme Court, we do not know what the apex court will say. But we know for sure that perceptions will play a major part there also. In essence, it appears tricky to side with the sessions judge or the High Court judge. It is however entertaining to hear Karunanidhi quote Mahatma Gandhi ("there is a higher court namely the conscience") or Kushboo ask how Jayalalithaa can get sleep!

Credibility of news reports

A news agency report claims:

"AIADMK MPs distribute sweets: AIADMK MPS in Parliament are distributing sweets after Jaya's acquittal. In Chennai, celebrations outside Jayalalithaa's residence, supporters dance and burst crackers. Celebrations also inside Courtroom 14 after charges against Jayalalithaa are dropped. The court has also acquitted co-accused, N Sasikalaa, J Elavarasi and V N Sudhagaran.
: Experts and political commentators say that there is no doubt that J Jayalalithaa will return as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, reports The only question is when she will takeover. Today and tomorrow are Ashtami and Navami, both auspicious days, which she may want to take advantage of."

This probably is the first time that one comes across ashtami and navami as auspicious days. So much for the research of news agencies.

"Live and let live" judiciary

In September, 2014, a special court in Bangalore sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years of rigorous imprisonment and levied a fine of Rs.100 crore. The Hindu claimed  'Despite the protracted and tortuous course that the legal process took in this case, justice seems to have been finally done.' 

In May 2015, the Karnataka High Court upholds Jayalalithaa's appeal against the judgement of the special court. Evidence is the same. Two judges reach diametrically opposite conclusions. Judges are human and therefore are pliable. Judgements depend on prejudices, ideological / political predilections and, sad to add, venality of judges. It is no wonder that the common man has lost confidence in the judiciary as a bulwark of justice.

Only one thing is clear. A poor unfortunate person is a victim of judicial vagaries whereas the rich can exploit the same vagaries till they get relief. Salman Khan and Jayalalithaa will be protected by the court whatever be their infraction; the poor will be punished even if they are law-compliant. Indian judiciary has been captured by the rich and the powerful.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

British elections

The Conservatives have become the majority party on their own in the House of Commons. Like Indians, the British voters have pooh-poohed the rule "Once a coalition, always a coalition'.

David Cameron did his party proud by not allowing the erstwhile alliance partner, the LibDems, to dictate terms to him or to the Conservative party. Consequently, the Liberal Democrats could not deliver all that they promised in the 2010 elections. There is no surprise therefore that the voters rejected the Liberal Democrats. The Labour party was trounced in Scotland and hence was only a poor second to the Conservatives.

David Cameron did not trivialise politics by indulging in 'coalition dharma' a la Manmohan Singh. Cameron was not overly attached to power and hence could do what was good for the country. This year's budget was not a populist one and the prime minister did not ask his Chancellor of Exchequer to sugar-coat any of his proposals. One can expect David Cameron to handle emerging problems like retention of Scotland in Great Britain (in the light of Scottish National Party's phenomenal success in Scotland), the country's continuance in European Union etc. with similar elan.

Dhritharashtra was so enamoured of power that he did not hesitate to tolerate immoral and unethical activities by his sons and associates. Manmohan Singh, having tasted the charm of prime-ministership, was prepared to ignore any illegality perpetrated by his alliance partners and was more than willing to be a sycophant to the Gandhi family. He cared more for comfort than for honour. David Cameron followed a more desirable path.

Leaders of the Labour party and LibDems have accepted their responsibility for their defeat and have resigned. So has the leader of UKIP. They do not belong to the Gandhi family and so are not averse to owning responsibility. But there is no meaning in blaming the Gandhis when the Congress party with so many capable individuals finds nothing wrong in being led by them.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Salman Khan

Justice has the habit of catching up so late that people start wishing away justice and developing sympathy for the guilty. Justice delivered after 13 years of occurrence of the grievous misdeed of Salman Khan is a classic example.

The 2002 hit-and-run case perhaps marked a watershed in the actor's life. He is supposed to have become philanthropic after that. His brethren and sistren in Bollywood have expressed their support to him though it is difficult to know how sincere their support is. Non-expression of support may anger the actor.

The sessions judge has upheld all the charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Salman Khan has not confessed and even after the judgment, he told the judge that though he was not driving the vehicle, he would abide by what the judge said. His driver, Ashok Singh, in a belated move 'confessed' that he was driving the vehicle when the tragic incident occurred. Ashok Singh should be tried for perjury so that it will deter others from resorting to this ruse. Could Ashok Singh have been so masochistic in the absence of consideration from the actor?

'Able' lawyers are of course (off course may be more meaningful) there to keep Salman Khan away from prison.

Monday, May 04, 2015

What do we need: Judicial oversight or judicial activism?

Justice Kurian Joseph does not hesitate to express his views however extreme they may be. Delivering the 5th Lala Amarchand Sood Memorial Lecture on Judicial Legislation in salubrious Shimla, he asserted that
"Judicial activism is our duty against legislative adventurism" and went on to pronounce that  

'Courts dare and ought to say what the law is and what the law should be’. Legislature and executive may claim they are activist and it is judiciary which is adventurist. Though discussions are welcome, this rhetoric will only fan further polarisation of views. One of the desirable qualities in a judge is circumspection. It is not incumbent on a judge to be vocal about all his opinions. Perhaps the topic of the memorial lecture provoked the irascible judge. We need more judicial oversight rather than activism. (Oversight has two meanings and it is not necessary to stress which meaning is implied here.)

In a recent judgment of the apex court, Justice Kurian Joseph has been candid in declaring that misplaced sympathy will give room to suspect institutional integrity. His declaration that leniency for corrupt officials will weaken judiciary is unexceptionable. It is interesting to note that though a pious Christian, he transcended his religious dogma and concluded that there is no scope for reform of an official convicted of corruption.

All said, Kurian Joseph is a fertile source for many spirited discussions.

Friday, May 01, 2015

National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)

The Supreme Court is now hearing the case relating to appointment of judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Collegium system is in vogue now under which the names for filling up the vacancies are recommended by senior judges of the apex court and approved by the executive.

The executive wanted a greater role in judicial appointments and thus NJAC was sought to be formed. Requiring the court to sit in judgment over legality of NJAC is prima facie odd since the judiciary will not willingly let go its autonomy over appointment of judges. Whatever else may or may not be the ills of judiciary, it is never free from possessiveness. Some of the observations made by the 5-judge Bench hearing the case are a cause for concern.

The cosy club of judges does not want to give up the sole right to appoint their brethren and occasional sistren. It is strange but enlightening to hear the following confession from Justice Khehar who is heading the Bench: "The collegium, when it selects a name for appointment as judge, looks at only the candidate's judicial capability. It is left to the executive to do a profile check on the candidate's moral and professional integrity." Has he deliberately scored a self-goal? Does he expect the executive to be more concerned about the ethics than the judiciary?

The Bench has asked the attorney-general the following :

“How many names were recommended by a high court collegium but the Supreme Court returned them on the ground of doubtful integrity… How many names were referred by the Supreme Court collegium but the government returned them on the ground of doubtful integrity… How many names were sent back by the Supreme Court collegium after the government returned them on the ground of doubtful integrity?”

Is this information not available with the court? Is doubtful integrity such an open and shut case that it is transparent for the whole world to see and be unanimous about?

Prashant Bhushan has opined that NJAC may be as bad a system as the collegium. He may be cynical, but he seems to be clairvoyant too. If we are unable to trust either judiciary or the executive, the situation is rather grim.