Is Justice in Kumbhakarna Mode?

March 12, 2022

The hungry judges soon the sentence sign
And wretches hang (so) that jurymen may dine.
-Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet.

That is the case of justice hurried is justice buried.

This topic essay is in honour of all those who wait for the judgment of Karnataka High Court, specially the students and their parents, which, even after a fortnight of arguments by lawyers, the concerned parties are now awaiting the judgment for a fortnight.

Before we go further, a brief intro to Kumbhakarna for the uninitiated. 

Kumbhakarna is a well-known rakshasa and a younger brother of Ravana from Ramayana. Kumbhkarna performed a major yajna and penance to please Lord Brahma. And when Kumbhkarna asked for his boon, his tongue was tied by the goddess Saraswati (it is a long story why) and instead of asking for Indraasana (throne of Indra), he asked for Nidraasana (bed for sleeping). It is also said he intended to ask for Nirdevatvam (annihilation of Devas) and instead asked for Nidravatvam (sleep). His request was instantly granted. However, his brother Ravana requested Brahma to undo this curse as a boon and Lord Brahma reduced it to sleeping for six months at a stretch.

Coming back to our theme of justice delivery, King Solomon (of the Old Testament of the Bible) is reputed for delivering justice instantly as in the following case. Two women were quarrelling over a new-born baby and they went to Solomon. He asked for a sword and proposed to cut the baby into two so that both women can have one half of the baby. Hearing this, one woman opted out of the solution while the other woman agreed to it. The king gave the baby to the first woman who opted against cutting the baby. Matter settled.

Now I will have a rapid run of quotations down the centuries on judges and judgments – not on any chronological order.

The judge’s duty is to grant justice, but his practice is to delay it; even those judges who know their duty adhere to the general practice. – L.Bruyere (1644-1696), French writer and moralist.

Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially. – Socrates. (BC 470-399). Roman philosopher.

He that judges without informing himself to the utmost that he is capable, cannot acquit himself of judging amiss. –Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher.

For I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge of man. – Seneca (4 BC- 65AD) Roman philosopher.

O judgment! Thou are fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason! – William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English playright).

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils. The thing to do is to supply light not heat. At any rate, if it is heat, it ought to be white heat and not sputter, because sputtering heat is apt to spread the fire. There ought, if there is any heat at all, to be that warmth of the heart which makes every man thrust aside his own personal feeling, his own personal interest, and take thought of the welfare and benefit of others.- Woodrow Wilson(1856-1924), American politician who served as 28th President of United States.

Alert readers would have observed that “Corruption” does not figure in the selected quotes on judges and judgments – allowing us to draw our own conclusions. Also, historically, judges meant males. Also there were no benches of more than one judge. Now there are benches of even mixed sex judges. Incidentally, coinciding with Women’s Day celebrations earlier this week, Chief Justice of India –Ramana - had complained that of the 20 women recommended for the post of High Court judges, none has been appointed.

Coming back to the beginning, all involved in the educational process were looking forward to a quick judgment so that the issues raised are judiciously settled. Readers will recall that the daily hearings on the case started in the afternoons and now, after a fortnight, the judgment is elusive. One doesn’t need to be an astrologer to predict that the case will finally go to the Supreme Court – which had hinted at the prospect.

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