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Double Standards

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The Opposition has expressed outrage at the nomination of ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha. This manifested in a walk-out by these parties when Gogoi took the oath of membership on Thursday. It must be noted here that Gogoi has become a nominated member and not been elected as a representative of a political party. It is being claimed that the President exercises his discretion at the advice of the Government, but inherent in the practice is the non-partisan nature of the appointment. Such a member is expected to be above party politics and is in the House because of his or her unquestioned eminence.

It is being suggested that Gogoi has been given this honour as a quid pro quo for the judgements that were delivered during his term on some very critical issues. This implies that these were not sound in terms of merit. Interestingly, those leading the charge are Supreme Court lawyers who are also members of various political parties. If they saw flaws in these judgements, they could well have taken the legal recourse to have them corrected. On the other hand, these conscientious objectors have, in the past, attempted to use Parliament as a forum to pressure, intimidate and threaten judges of the Supreme Court, even with impeachment, in the attempt to influence decisions.

These same human rights and free speech defenders have taken up the cause of terrorists and criminals on the basis of the principle that everybody is innocent till proven guilty. However, they have no qualms in making accusations against Gogoi and behaving as though he is guilty of the allegations they are freely leveling against him. These double standards are typical of the eco-system that is presently aligned Prime Minister Modi and the BJP. They are willing to go to any extent with little regard to the constitutional boundaries, propriety and conventions.

It may be argued that non-partisanship is necessary for those in high constitutional positions. However, if the constitution makers had not intended such persons to be in Parliament, they would have expressly forbidden it. Sometimes, a rule is followed in the breach! Also, it is not that there are no precedents in this regard, including that of a former Chief Election Commissioner not only going on to join a party but also contesting elections, following which he was appointed a minister! In fact, the Rajya Sabha, in particular, is supposed to be the House of Elders comprising persons of great experience and wisdom. The objectors do not seem too much bothered about the quality of person presently preferred by parties to occupy the House. Nor about the many Members of Parliament who have long histories of criminal behaviour. And is it not much better that former Supreme Court judges and others of that calibre be given the opportunity to contribute positively in Parliament than vent their frustration at their post-retirement irrelevance with manic rants over Twitter, Facebook, etc.?