I am a voter of Perambur constituency in Chennai. My MLA Vetrivel is one among the 18 MLAs who were disqualified by the Speaker on 18 September 2017. It has been more than six months since my consituency is without an MLA, along with 17 other such constituencies. The disqualification of the MLAs were challenged before the Madras HC and a Bench headed by your lordship reserved orders on 24 January 2018. We are nearing 3 months since orders have been issued.
Me as a voter, find it very difficult to get several basic grievances redressed. In a democracy the precise reason for conducting elections and having a representative for each constituency is for the winner to act as a representative of the people, who will voice the grievances of his constituency in the Assembly and take necessary measures by acting as a bridge between the executive and the people. As your lordship must be aware, due to various litigations local body elections were also not held and we don’t even have a councillor to take up our every day basic issues.
After waiting for more than 83 days and aware of the fact that the courts would close for vacation in two weeks, I don’t have an option but to voice my grievance to your Lordship.
Leaving apart the merits of the case, the courts are expected to uphold the constitution which is the guiding lamp for our democracy. I would like to quote liberally from the speech of Dr.Rajendra Prasad, when he moved the motion for adoption of our constitution.
“We have prepared a democratic Constitution. But successful working of democratic institutions requires in those who have to work their willingness to respect the viewpoints of others, capacity for compromise and accommodation. Many things which cannot be written in a Constitution are done by conventions. Let me hope that we shall show those capacities and develop those conventions. The way in which we have been able to draw this Constitution without taking recourse to voting and to divisions in lobbies strengthens that hope.
Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. That will depend upon the men who administer it. If the people who are elected are capable and men of character and integrity, they would be able to make the beat even of a defective Constitution. If they are lacking in these, the Constitution cannot help the country. After all, a Constitution like a machine is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it and operate it, and India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them.”
As you must be aware your Lordship, we are living in different times from the independence era, where greed is the order of the day. We are not ruled by honest men, but by men, who brushing aside the welfare of the people and state, are concerned only in filling their coffers and looting the treasury. When the men who rule fail, it is the duty of the Courts to step in and ensure the rule of law and uphold the constitution.
An elected government should enjoy the confidence of the people and should have a majority in the house which only would make it a legitimate government. As your Lordship must be aware, the way in which the Speaker disqualified the 18 MLAs for giving a representation to the Governor and the way in which he refused to disqualify the 11 MLAs who defied the Whip and voted against the government speaks volumes of malafide.
We as common citizens are well aware of the horse tradings and political maneuvering by these politicians for personal gains. We have been witnessing how these bunch of jokers shamelessly switched sides at the drop of a hat and are making a mockery of democracy. But, we looked upon the judiciary as our only saviour which could stop the everyday murder of democracy. But the Courts have disappointed us, your Lordship.
The continuance of the government headed by Edappadi Palanisamy, each day, without proving majority on the floor of the house is nothing but murder of democracy and derailment of the rule of law. When the courts which are required to step in and put a full stop to this gross miscarriage of law and democracy, they procastinate and take inordinate time in deciding matters, the result of which faith of people in judiciary gets eroded.
I would like to quote from SC’s judgment in Nidhi Kaim & Anr vs State Of M P wherein it is said by a three member Bench, “Being constitutional in conferment, this Court whenever persuaded for a just cause, would step in to render complete justice, by exercising its inherent power. This exercise of inherent power, according to learned counsel, was free from any fetters. And for exercise of such power, this Court ought never and never, close the doors for creative engagement. Whenever a situation for exercise of such power is triggered by its conscience, this Court should not be lax, in providing the desired relief.”
As the Chief Justice, several Public Interest Litigations come up for hearing before your Lordship on various injustices, human rights violations and huge scams. In one of the matters where your Lordship has reserved orders, allegations were made that the present DGP T.K.Rajendran, and the present Health Minister Vijayabhaskar had received bribe from illegal gutkha manufacturers. Gutkha production was stopped by the late Chief Minister Jayalalitha, only after taking into account various hazardous effects of Gutkha. During several hearings during the Gutkha litigation, the government headed by Edappadi Palanisamy stiffly resisted any move by the Court to hand over the investigation of the Gutkha issue to CBI, for obvious reasons. Your Lordship must also be aware that during a similar litigation, the state’s Chief Secretary on oath, submitted before the Court that a secret letter written by the Income Tax Department was not received by her at all. Such is the amount of collusive corruption pervasive in the state.
The Gutkha case is a small tip of a huge iceberg that is waiting to crack the ship. The delay by the judiciary in taking firm and timely decisions in matters of grave importance is causing serious damage to democracy and the rule of law.
Though I am an optimistic person who never loses hope, I would like to tell your Lordship that most of my fellow voters in Perambur constituency have lost hope that the judiciary will deliver a verdict in the 18 MLA case in the near future. A few police officers are also of the opinion that the verdict in the PIL seeking a CBI probe into Gutkha scam would never be delivered till TK Rajendran’s ‘extended’ tenure ends in June 2019.
Such lack of faith and pessimism on the judiciary is not a good sign of a healthy judicial system and a vibrant democracy.
Before I part, I would like to bring your Lordship’s attention to the Apex court’s verdict in Harbans Singh vs State Of U.P. & Others, 1982 AIR 849. “Very wide powers have been conferred on this Court for due and proper administration of justice. Apart from the jurisdiction and powers conferred on this Court under Arts. 32 and 136 of the Constitution I am of the opinion that this Court retains and must retain, an inherent power and jurisdiction for dealing with any extraordinary situation in the larger interests of administration of justice and for preventing manifest injustice being done. This power must necessarily be sparingly used only in exceptional circumstances for furthering the ends of justice.” (emphasis supplied).
The continuance of the government headed by Edappadi K.Palanisamy without proving majority on the floor of the house is nothing but “manifest injustice” your Lordship.
The above words are not mine alone. These are the words of the voters of 18 constituencies whose MLAs were disqualified and who are without a representative for more than 6 months.
A voter from Perambur Assembly Constituency.