Image courtesy: The Wire
Appointing “theocratic judges” who perversely interpret the Constitution as a Hindu Constitution is the way in which Hindu Rashtra will get firmly established, says Mohan Gopal in this interview.
One of India’s foremost legal scholars has stated that the Modi government is interfering in judicial appointments adding “it happens in many ways – subtle, not so subtle, explicit or implicit”. More importantly, Prof. Mohan Gopal adds this interference is happening because “this government (has) an explicit mission to overthrow the present Republic and establish a Hindu Rashtra”. Going one step further, he also says “it will be very dangerous to give this government … any role in judicial appointments”. He concludes “we must preserve and protect the Collegium because that is our best hope for now.”
This is the gist of an interview that will undoubtedly invite huge reactions. In this 50-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Prof. Mohan Gopal, who is a former Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India and a former Director of the National Judicial Academy of the Supreme Court, explains in meticulous detail the nature of the Modi government’s interference in judicial appointments – where he specifically cites the example of Justice Akil Kureshi – as well as why he believes this government has “an explicit mission to overthrow the present Republic and establish a Hindu Rashtra”.
Prof. Gopal states that he believes the present government has a two-part strategy to establish Hindu Rashtra by 2047, not by overthrowing the Constitution but by the interpretation of the Constitution as a Hindu document by the Supreme Court. Part one of this strategy is the appointment of what he calls “theocratic judges” i.e. those who are prepared to go beyond the Constitution to find sources of law in religion i.e. Sanatana Dharma, the Vedas, ancient Indian religious principles. The second part of this strategy is to identify sources of law outside the Constitution.
In an analysis which he presents of the 111 judges appointed to the Supreme Court between May 2004 and today (i.e. by both the UPA and the NDA governments) – details of which are within the interview– he believes that the number of theocratic judges has increased very substantially under the NDA.
Prof. Gopal also identifies two judgements where he believes the concerned judges have gone beyond the constitution to find the source of law in religion. These two judgements are the Hijab judgement and the Ayodhya judgement.
Prof. Gopal ends the interview with three bits of advice to the Collegium. First, the Collegium must consciously choose and put on the bench those who are committed to protecting the Constitution against what he calls “this subversive attack”. Second, the Supreme Court must open Collegium recommendations for scrutiny on the judicial side so that information brought to the Collegium’s attention after a nomination has been made can be considered and, if need be, the nomination withdrawn. Third, the Collegium must consciously diversify its recommendations in terms of religion, caste, region as well as economic class. As Prof Gopal puts it “we need a rainbow judiciary”.
Only the most diverse set of recommendations will ensure judges resist attempts by what Prof. Gopal calls “the ruling Hindu oligarchy” to pack the judiciary with theocratic judges.
The interview may be viewed here: