A dog too has a caste (A Legal Reporter’s Diary)

By Parmod Kumar, IANS
Sunday, July 18, 2010

NEW DELHI - 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 mazak1453@gmail.com.)

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