A Judge, A Belief and A Debate

It was a hot summer morning. Justice Mehta woke up at the break of dawn. A long habit of many years. One by one, he completed his morning rituals, – exercise, bath and drinking of go mutra (cows urine), before sitting down for his morning meditation. Today, his mind was not focussed. He felt a tinge of depression. After nearly two decades in the high court, today he will retire. What has he to show for? Who knows him? He will retire as one of many annonymous and faceless judges. He made up his mind to make one last attempt to change all that.

Honorable Justice Mehta dispensed off his final case on a government operated go – shala (cow shelter). He recommended life imprisonment for anyone convicted of cow slaughter. Later, in the post retirement party, Honorable justice gave interviews to TV channels and news paper reporters. He discussed basis for his pronouncement. He narrated therapeutic virtues of go mutra. He claimed drinking cow’s urine daily may cure cancer. While on the topic of piety and cow, he declared peacock to be pure because it abstains from procreation. A peahen gets impregnated swallowing tears of a peacock. Absurd as it may sound, retired judge had hit bulls eye. He had become famous by the end of the eveining. His interview was telecast all over India. Every TV channel had broadcasted interview of the  judge, in his ill fitting, poorly tailored suit baring open his prejudice, his faith and his mindset. Editorials were written on appropriateness of discussing a judgement in public. His interview was circulated widely over social media. Opposition had go a handle to beat the government with.

While the flummoxed nation was busy reading up on reproductive biology of peacocks, a rulin party spokesperson was invited to a live debate. The channel and anchor professed honest and bold journalism and preferred asking direct questions to government. Behind the back, channel was accused of harboring pro opposition bias. Accordingly, a thirty minute slot was stacked up with five anti government voices and one person defending government position. Nevertheless, government spokie was confident that he could deflect any attention from judges comment. He could always claim judge had nothing to do with his party or government. He could also blame appointment system of judges for elevating a judge like justice Mehta. A system that governmetn is not able to change because of independence enjoyed by judicial system.

Anchor had a different idea. She threw a curve ball by aksing “how will party strategy in Indian North East be affected due to ban on cattle slaughter”. Obviously, taken unaware the spokesperson muttered “do not worry about my party. We shall do fine.” Not satishfied with the response, anchored turned towards opposition politicians and critics. Politicians jumped in and lambasted the governmetn for running an agenda that is  “cow centric, anti minority, anti dalit and anti poor“. “Government”, they claimed, “was becoming like a dictator and trying to interfere with what people eat. Development, job creation, economic revival agendas of govenrnment have gone for a toss. In stead, cow protection, vegetarianism and creation of a Hindu Rashtra has become the central theme.”

After repeated request to be given a chance to rebutt, government spokie lost his patience and accused the channel of running an anti government agenda. Viewers were stunned at the altercation that followed. Spokie was asked to apologise or leave. Social media was abuzz with people writing for and against the event. A few days later, residence, at several locations, of promoters of the channel were raided by CBI. Many linked affront to government spokie with CBI raid. While knowledgeable people argued that a government spokesperson was not important enough to invite a CBI raid. Yet, one cannot ignore the possibility that something must be happening under the radar, Something, that both anchor and spokie were aware of? Was that the basis for animosity that surfaced?

Bigger question remains, should a judge discuss his pronouncement and make his belief as the basis of his judgement? Secondly, a channel sincere about debating an issue, should give equal opportunity to both for and against view points. Finally, can an invited gues to be allowed to leave, no matter how offensive? It seems cow war has invaded TV studio.

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