DC Edit | Hasty justice is justice denied
Justice delayed is justice denied. So goes the old adage, cautioning all well-meaning people on the need for courts to avoid procrastination. But what if a judicial process is accelerated to move on overdrive, leading to a politician and his wife getting a clean chit in a corruption case? Well, an alert high court judge could raise an alarm suo motu. It can even get better if the Supreme Court (SC) appreciates the judge with a “thank god, we have judges like...” as it has happened now in the Rs 1.4 crore corruption case involving Tamil Nadu education minister K. Ponmudi and his wife P. Visalakshi filed way back in 2002.
When Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras high court decided to examine the validity of the trial that moved at breakneck speed at the Vellore principal district judge (PDG) court and concluded in a record 22 days, he was looked at with suspicion. Even the trial judge who managed to deliver the 226-page judgment, just two days ahead of her retirement, went to the SC in appeal saying that she had an unblemished career record, though notices were issued only to the public prosecutor and the accused by the HC.
So, it is highly laudable that the SC bench, led by the Chief Justice of India, stood by Justice Venkatesh, refusing to entertain the petition against him, as it has brought back people’s faith in higher judiciary, which had been in tatters in the state that has seen courts letting past chief ministers go scot-free after asking them to return government properties that they had acquired stealthily. Inordinate delays in pronouncing judgments had even created ambiguity over the conviction of politicians.
The conviction rate in corruption and graft charges had been so abysmal that people’s perception was that the higher the seat of judiciary, the higher is the opportunity for those with pelf and heft to get off the hook. But the Ponmudi case has changed that perception. That the law does catch up with the powerful is a realisation that can inspire faith in democracy.