Six non-BJP ruled states went with a review petition to the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the JEE and NEET examinations that are being held in this month. There are obvious compulsions for the Government to get the close to 2.5 million students into the academic mainstream as, also, there is reason to get life back to normal after the massive contraction of 23.9 per cent in the economy that was reflected in QI. However, I would assume that the concern of the students and their parents, which has been lapped up by the 6 state governments, has some merit. Assuming that each of the 2.5 million students would be chaperoned by one person from the family to the examination centre, the population of people that would be subjected to increased exposure to the virus would be 5 million. That is a large number to be concerned about even with a decreasing percentage that is testing positive, the high recovery rate and a low mortality rate.
The issue that emerges is whether politicians are genuinely concerned about the welfare of students. If they were, why was the concern shown only by the non – BJP states. Why does it happen that none of the BJP – governed states joined the review petition? Was it a lack of concern about the students, or a passionate belief that life has to get back to normal at whatever cost, or is it the lack of spine to go against the diktat of the Central government. In all probabilities, it was the last option because politicians in their personal life are, by and large, taking the adequate precautions to remain healthy – am tempted to assume that the PM has not got his beard trimmed for fear of having to expose himself to the coiffeur. As things stand, it seems to be inconceivable that any BJP managed State Governments can take a position that is not aligned to the thought process of the central leadership. Can we see some signs of intra-party democracy within the BJP? If not 23, can we have just about 2 or 3 people who could raise their voice on an issue – unless we are made to believe that everyone in the party is programmed to think alike.
A non specialist’s perspective. Need to be pardoned for my lack of legal knowledge – have been inspired by the American Jurist, William O Douglas, who said: “common sense often makes good law”.
It is quite possible that Prashant Bhushan’s misdemeanor could have been overlooked by the Supreme Court but the Delhi Bar Council had, on its own gumption or on a petition filed with it, initiated proceeding for professional misconduct against him and after going through the required process found him guilty and barred him from practising for three years. He could have gone in appeal to the Bar Council of India and, it is possible, he would not have got relief from there. In that case, he could have approached the Supreme Court for relief. But, actually what happened was that the Supreme Court took suo moto action and, after carrying out the due process, pronounced him guilty of criminal contempt of court and fined him Re one and if he failed to pay, he would be barred from practising for three years and jailed for three months. He decided to pay Re one and avoid being barred from practising or being jailed.
After the Supreme Court judgment, the Delhi Bar Council was asked by the Bar Council of India to evaluate Prashant Bhushan’s tweets and study the judgment for considering action for professional misconduct. If the local and the national Bar Councils find him guilty and bar him from practising, he can challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. Ironically, the Supreme Court has already pronounced a three year bar and which can be avoided by paying Re one and which he did. What are the Bar Council of India and the Delhi Bar Council doing in this case at this stage and for what outcome? If the Supreme Court has decided the matter, what is the Bar Council of India up to and trying to prove? Is there a politically motivated harassment angle to it as is being talked about. Hope not. Let us make sure that people with spine are not made to wear back braces for showing their nerve.