Some quid pro quos were hailed, while others drowned in vitriol - Govt.in - Telling the truth- always!
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Some quid pro quos were hailed, while others drowned in vitriol

Last week, I was accosted by an activist, also a kn-owledgeable and fearlessly outspoken senior advocate, whose charitable work outshines his contempt for judges. In his characteristic mocking manner, he accused me of not criticising ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi for accepting a Rajya Sabha nomination.
“I keep silent on many incidents, including some involving you,” I said. He dared me to disclose any incident about him. I did. Voice raised, he retorted: “Don’t point a finger at me.” “Justice Gogoi could say the same on quid pro quo charge,” I said and asked: “Why does an accuser get so angry when he faces an accusation?” He walked off, promising never to speak with me.
Life is like that. People endowed with sharp tongues train their ears only for sweet praise. What worries one is the selective wagging of their free speech tongues in vain pursuit of independence of judiciary. .
Justice Saiyed Fazl Ali was the first judge to retire from the Supreme Court in September 1951. He was called back from retirement under Article 128. While still a sitting judge, PM Jawaharlal Nehru offered him the Odisha governor’s post. In May 1952, he accepted the offer and cut short his extended tenure. In 1954, he resigned to head the State Reorganisation Commission. After completing the task, he was made governor of Assam in May 1956. Yet, history books are silent on his possible ‘quid pro quo’.
Rights activists will remember Justice V R Krishna Iyer. We are not commenting on his unparalleled acumen in stretching constitutional boundaries to benefit the poor by intelligently using the vast powers under Article 142. We are discussing quid pro quo.
Some activists made a virtue of ex-CJI Mohammed Hidayatullah becoming Vice-President nine years after retiring from the SC. They argued that a similar cooling-off period would be ideal to weed out quid pro quo.
As CJI, Justice Hidayatullah had the rare distinction of becoming acting President of India from July 20-August 24, 1969. He retired as CJI on December 16, 1970, soon after authoring the majority opinion in privy purses case. He quashed the Presidential Order abolishing privileges and privy purses of erstwhile princes. It angered the Indira Gandhi government no end.
A little later, Indira dissolved Lok Sabha and the co-untry’s first mid-term elections took place. A fresh mandate saw her emerge stronger but she was still licking the privy purses wound. Her government ignored Justice Hidayatullah and offered him no post-retirement post till 1977.
Strangely, he readily agreed to become Vice-President in 1979 when Congress and other parties made him their unanimous choice for the post. But who dare criticise stalwarts like Justices Hidayatullah? Their criticism is reserved for lesser mortals.

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  • TOI

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