It is quite ironical or surprising that a former Chief Justice of India has accepted the post of Governor at a time when the status of the constitutional post has touched upon its nadir. The present day Governors are treated like ‘clerks’ in central secretariat, who continues at the pleasure of their new political masters. For Governors, now transfer has become an ‘incidence of service’. In such context, appointment of a former CJI, does it improve the status of the Governor or lower the status of judiciary?
It was uncomfortable for every lawyer who wanted to uphold the majesty of law and judiciary, to adjust the new political order in which their former head of the judicial family is available for any post.
Interestingly, the appointment has come at a time where post-retirement jobs for judges have been criticized. Mr. Arun Jaitley, currently the Minster for Finance and Defence had reported to have said, while he was the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha that "...this clamour for post-retirement jobs is adversely affecting impartiality of the judiciary of the country and time has come that it should come to an end". Though I wish to not to remember such statements, it resurfaces through the fault lines of my memory with greater vigour and hostility.
The idea to become a Governor is truly irresistible, preferably a Governor of a southern state, better law and order and whether conditions. Except rarely occurring the constitutionalcrises, the job would be more of ‘ signing’innumerable documents. You will have huge bungalows, manicured lawns and more than required personal assistants. The recent newspaper reports suggest that Smt Sheila Dikshit had a wonderful time in Kerala, though short-lived. In short span of three months she and her relatives from Delhi visited all most all touristspots in Kerala, at the cost of State Exchequer.
We have all sorts of people as Governors and the posts arealways given away for the past service they rendered to the Nation. Not all people who rendered services to Nation are not entitled for this special post, and criteria of ‘service and selection’ is highly subjective. Among the post of Governors, again there is a classification, Governor posts in bigger States are used always for political rehabilitation of veteran politicians who are not required in Delhi power circles. North eastern states are meant for retired army, IAS, IPS and political light weights who were denied tickets or lost in elections. Kerala is generally meant for High Court judges who rendered valuable services to judiciary. So far, there are few number of appointees from Judiciary, and if the trend began by Justice Sathasivam is followed, the political executive would really be surprised to see many more ‘willing to accept the post’ requests.
By accepting the Kerala Governor Post, Justice Sathasivam will be creating another sort of history. He will be the first former CJI who will be sworn in by an acting Chief Justice of a High Court. Political history is always created my men and women who are after power. Whatever may be the impropriety of a former CJI becoming Governor of a federal state, people of Kerala, a geographically tiny State in the Indian Union, can boast of having a former CJI as their Governor.
I was informed that, post retirement Justice Sathasivam was in pursuit of happiness by involving in his family avocation, ‘the Agriculture’. According me a ‘farmer former CJI’ commands far more respect than a Governor of a federal State, who’s job is always at the will of the ‘Political Master’.
P.V.Dinesh is an Advocate in the Supreme Court of India, comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org