Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hans Raj Khanna - Committed to Judiciary

hans raj khanna

The role of free and fair judiciary is very important in the healthy democracy specially when the ruling party uses to disregard the Constitution of India for its political mileage. In such situation only Judiciary can rein such dictatorship Government. The power of Judiciary comes not only from the weighty books of law and complex sections of penal code but also from the justice loving and wisdom of Judges. There may be only logical interpretation, literal discussion over the Constitutional provisions and law but not justice. The proper procedure to reach a decision and at any cost commitment to give justice make a judge justice-loving. There were very rare people in Indian Judiciary for whom the purity of judicial proceeding had been very far above any political betting or personal aspiration/ambition. Hansraj Khanna is considered as a Rajhans in the group of such ideal justice loving people.a. Born on 3rd July 1912 in Amritsar even his father was a renowned advocate. After obtaining the degree of law in 1934 he was appointment the District and Sessions Judge in 1952. In 1962 he was elevated to the Punjab High Court, in 1969 the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and in 1971 the Supreme Court of India. In 1967 the Supreme Court had limited the amending power of the Parliament in the matter of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights in the case of the property dispute of Golaknath. Thereafter the Central Government had to bring the constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court had declared the popular decisions of Indira Gandhi like abolition of the Privy Purse and the Nationalisation of banks unconstitutional on the constitutional and judicial test. As a result of which the Government needed other amendments in the Constitution. In the meanwhile Keshvanand Bharati, the head of the MATH, filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the order/decision of the Kerala Government taking the property of the Math. During the hearing of this case already filed petitions challenging the earlier constitutional amendments were clubbed with this case. The thirteen judges bench gave the decision of 7:6 majority with Justice Khanna’s deciding opinion that the Parliament can’t amend the basic feature of the Constitution of India. Being aggrieved with this decision the then Prime Minister appointed Justice A.N. Rey the Chief Justice of India setting aside the three senior Justices. On 25th June, 1975 after the proclamation of the emergency the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights were suspended and a large number of people were arrested. The different High Courts of the country declared their detention illegal treating the personal liberty their fundamental right. Against them the Central Government filed a petition in the Supreme Court. For the hearing of one of the important cases of the Indian Judiciary namely “Habeas Corpus case” or ADM Jabalpur v. Shiv Kant Shukla a bench of five judges was constituted in which Justice Khanna was also a member apart from the Chief Justice A. N. Rey, M.H. Beg, Y. V. Chandrachur, P. N. Bhagwati.

The issue before this bench was---“ Whether a citizen has the right to challenge his arrest in the Court of law even in case of suspension of the fundamental rights during emergency or not?” Surprisingly despite being Y.V. Chandrachud and P.N. Bhagwati, eminent supporter of the Human rights this bench gave decision with 4:1 majority that the Indian citizen has no right to challenge his arrest during the emergency. H.R. Khanna was the single judge who gave decision against the Government order. During the hearing of this case Justice khanna asked the Advocate General a direct question –"The Constitution of India has given right to life and personal liberty to the citizens, during emergency if a police officer due to personal enmity murders a person, according to you the relatives of the deceased have no way to get justice.”

The Advocate General responded that during emergency such persons have no way to get justice. Justice khanna remaining fully unaffected from the prejudice, retaliation or temptation of the then Government gave decision on 26th April 1976 on the basis of his wisdom and commitment to justice. Upto now the decision has been treated as an adoptable illustration for the free and fair Judiciary. About the decision of Justice Khanna on 30th April, 1976 Newyork Times wrote in its editorial- “When India returns on the way of its/her freedom and democrac, certainly anyone would make the memorial of H.R. Khanna, Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Owing his decision he was not but his junior colleague was appointed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In the protest Justice Khanna resigned. On his death on 25th February, 2008 the Australian Law Journal stated in its grief message-“ Justice khanna was the great Justice of India as well as an ideal of truthfulness for the Justices of all Common Wealth Countries.” Hans Raj Khanna after writing the judgment had said to his sister-“After my this judgment he would not be appointed the Chief Justice.”In the present period if such an example of only commitment to the Judiciary is found, a flame of new hope would light up in the whole country.

No comments:

Post a Comment