Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Supreme Court of India and fair-minded Chola king - Manu Neethi Chozhan

Manu Neethi Chozan statue, Court complex. Madras High Cour
Manu Neethi Cholan . creativity is god
 In the state of Tamil Nadu, the story of Manu Needhi Cholan(also Chozhan) or ‘Elara’ is narrated by the elderly people to their grandchildren, so that they will grow to be good citizens and know how to handle the various delicate aspects of life with justice and fairness. For generations, Manu Neethi Chozhan, an embodiment of unbiased justice, has been a source of inspiration to people for centuries. The Supreme Court of India mentioned the name of the king in a court order recently and impressed on the justices to take inspiration from the Tamil King.

'The king who gives not a facile audience (to those who approach him) and who does not examine and pass judgment (on their complaints), will perish in disgrace". 
                                       ............ Thiruvalluvar from "Thrukkural'

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Believed to have lived around 250 B.C. in Southern India, this Chola ruler's dictum was “nobody is above the law and all are equal” and the Indian judges used him as a role model when it was dealing with difficult court cases and pronouncing a fair and final verdict on complicated cases. We are all aware that an upright man who has not committed any crime should not be sent to the gallows simply based on circumstantial evidence.

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The reference to this equitable king Manu Neethi  Chozhan by the Supreme court of India  was made with respect to the order  on a petition filed by a group of lawyers under the banner – National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms,  in the Supreme Court, challenging the eligibility of  Justice Khehar’s elevation (44th Chief Justice of India) for a top justice position in keeping with the convention of seniority.  The alleged judge should be deprived of the power to appoint judges to the country’s constitutional courts through his NJAC judgment.
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"Rain and plentiful crops will ever dwell together in the country of the king who sways his scepter with justice"
                                    ..........   -Thiruvalluvar (from Thirukkural)
The Bench consisting of Justices R.K. Agarwal  and D.Y.
Chandrachud not only dismissed the allegation but also made the lawyers understand how the pretty old tradition of justice administration was being followed by the Indian judges in the modern context, keeping in mind the ancient Chola ruler's unshakable faith in the dispensation of a delicate case with utter fairness without any reservation whatsoever. Justice Agarwal observed, "The judges of all the courts, since its very inception, have always maintained this great tradition of the Chola king and are rendering even justice to all concerned, whosoever he or she may be, irrespective of the fact whether they are rich or poor, and whether they occupy a high or a low status in society".

 The learned judge went further and explained how he got to know about the great Chola ruler on his visit to the historical Madras High Court in Chennai, one of the earliest  and largest courts in the world established by the British
cow ringing the bell, Manauneethi Cholan.story collector
(1862) where the legal luminaries - both British and Indians sat as justices and handled several tough cases without deviating from the right path. On seeing the statue of Manuneethi Chozhan 
standing with two wheels on either side with a calf and a small child beneath each wheel, and a cow in front of the courthouse, his friends at Chennai explained to him about the great Chola ruler who punished his own son based on a complaint made by none other than an animal - a cow. The cow's calf got killed accidentally under the prince's chariot. The apex court explained the Chola ruler had hung a giant bell in front of his palace and announced that anyone seeking justice could ring it and he would be heard. When the cow saw her calf getting killed under the chariot of the prince, she went to the palace, rang the bell and demanded fair justice from the ruler. The king learned the truth from his courtiers and, unremitting as he was, he stuck to the promise of fair justice and ordered his son to be killed for his carelessness. The Chola ruler experienced the same pangs of pain as the cow when her calf was crushed under the wheels of the chariot. Thus the Supreme Court in Delhi drew a parallel between Manu Neethi Chozhen's fair dispensation of justice and the responsibility of judges holding highest legal positions in the country. 

Ref:
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/When-Chola-king-was-personification-of-a-perfect-judge/article17113383.ece