May 2018 smartGOV_eMagazine_May2018 - Page 34

Smart Governance ALettertoLawMinister Author AJ Philip The writer, a senior journalist, can be reached at ajphilip@ gmail.com Dear Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad Ji, I had an occasion to share the dais with you when Shri Manoj Shrivastava, who retired from the Indian Administrative Service two years ago, invited you and me to a seminar he organised in collaboration with Harvard University at Hotel Maurya in Patna. This was in the nineties. I was impressed by your argumentative skills, although what you said really rattled me. For instance, you said that good governance and election results did not go hand in hand. You paid handsome compliments to the M Karunanidhi ministry in Tamil Nadu which failed to return as the DMK was roundly defeated. Your argument was that people voted on extraneous considerations, not on the performance of the ruling party. Perhaps, that may be why you are paying scant regard to public opinion when you take such astounding decisions as returning the name of Justice KM Joseph whom the Collegium had recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court. Why I thought it necessary to join issue with you in my capacity as a citizen of this country are some of the arguments you made while returning the Collegium’s recommendation. You mentioned that both the President and the Prime Minister were on board with you on this issue. Does this have any relevance? In India, we have the rule of law and on an issue of law, it is immaterial what opinion two individuals have, no matter what Crucifying Justice Joseph position they hold in society. As the saying goes, suprema lex est (law is supreme)! I grew up at Valanchuzhy, a small village in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala and I studied at 34 | May 2018 | www.smartgovernance.in