Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jaising and Palshikar on the Thakur case

This post is part of an effort to track early responses to the Thakur case. I won't have time to comment on these now, but here is Indira Jaising's rediff.com column on the case, and this is a column in today's Express by Suhas Palshikar. Both can broadly be classified as supporters of the decision, though there are differences in the degrees to which they support the decision. In keeping with her status as an activist-lawyer, Jaising's piece is more fulsome in its praise for the judgment, while Palshikar, speaking from the standpoint of a social science academic, is more measured in his assessment of the merits of the judgment.

One problem with both these commentaries - and with some of the initial newsreports - is that they keep referring to the case as if it were a single, clear judgment of the Court (both columnists refer to the decision and the ruling in the singular throughout their respective columns). Yet, as Mr. Venkatesan's previous post shows, there are real problems in understanding what the Court as a whole said on the details of the questions posed beyond the larger issue of the constitutional validity of OBC quotas being upheld. A year or so ago, some of us on the blog debated the virtues of unanimous decisions of Supreme Courts in complicated cases, as a way of making the decisions more clear and coherent. This case seems to point to the problems of interpretation posed when judges can't get their colleagues to sign onto a joint judgment. I can't help wondering why the Chief Justice was not able to persuade those who did not differ substantially from him to avoid writing separate judgments, given the importance of the issue and the clear need for judicial solidarity.

3 comments:

V.Venkatesan said...

In a lighter vein, Justice Bhandari had told us at the workshop which I attended recently, that Judges would stop writing separate, long, concurrent Judgments, if only the media stopped reporting the names of the Judges. In retrospect, I wonder whether he was sharing his own experience, considering that the workshop took place only 10 days ago.

Dilip said...

Earlier judgments used to carry a headnote that added considerable clarity on where the court stood on particular questions. Any idea why that practice was discontinued?

Anonymous said...

dilip, headnotes are added by reporters, not judges. so when this judgment is published in a law report, they will have headnotes. tarunabh