Supreme Court Justice Jasti Chelameswar on Saturday said “dynasties, the age-old problem of this country, is another facet of political injustice”. He said, “everybody is entitled but when only determining factor happens to be the person’s relationship with some existing member in public life then it becomes a question whether we really practise political justice in the country”.
Justice Chelameswar was giving the valedictory address on ‘The Preamble Pledge of Social, Political and Economic Justice: Are They out of Order’ at GLS auditorium, Law Garden, in Ahmedabad. In the sphere of political justice, the achievement is “only elementary”, Justice Chelameswar said, “as we have abolished the monarchy”. “But how far we have secured political justice, in the sense that all people of this country can aspire to and effectively participate in democratic electoral process, is a matter of which we all are aware.”
He said that the kind of role money plays in the electoral process is against the political justice envisaged in the Preamble of the Constitution. “It is ultimately money power which determines the eligibility of a man to become member of a legislative body,” Justice Chelameswar said. Pointing to young lawyers, he said there was a long way to go still, and it was up to the next generation to work on this problem to create a better society.
“It is the age-old problem of this country, another facet of the syndrome of hierarchy, the role of seniority and the dynasties. Invariably somebody in the family becomes the member of the legislative body… his wife, children, everybody lines up to occupy the space… this is political injustice…,” the judge said.
Justice Chelameswar said he had personally witnessed the social menace of untouchability long ago. The practice remains prevalent in parts of the country even today, he said.
“By virtue of various cultural, social practices in this country, for millennia people opted for certain professions from generation to generation, which simply became heritable occupations, some of them considered to be less respectable… people carrying on these occupations were not treated as equals by the more fortunate in society…,” Justice Chelameswar said. “There was huge amount of disparity and unrest and this might not have taken a violent turn, but it was always simmering, (and the) makers of the Constitution knew this,” he said.
There have been huge economic disparities in the Indian social system, the judge said. Quoting from a book, he said that under the six Mughal rulers from Babar to Aurangzeb, “50% of the GDP was appropriated by 500 people, while 120 million lived in utter poverty and hardly had one meal… all this at the height of mesmerizing structures, the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, among others,” he said.
Now, “certain institutions have improved, some amount of food security is there, there is some access to education and medical facilities,” Justice Chelameswar said, “but much is required to be achieved”.