By Devil’s Advocate
A petition has been filed in the High Court of Karnataka seeking a stay on the foreign trip by the legislators. The petition by Mr. Krishna Bhat states that the legislators are scheduled to make a trip to China and this has to be stopped at any cost.
The question that has been raised by the petition is whether such a trip is necessary when the state is reeling under drought and whether it would be fair to spend so much of money on a pleasure trip. The legislators however term it as an educational trip and feel that this would help the state in the long run.
This is the dispute between the petitioner and the legislators. Now the real question to be asked is whether the High Court is justified in hearing this plea? The reason why this question is being asked is because the Chief Justice and five other judges recently made a similar trip to the United States. The judges said that the trip was a part of an exchange programme. Whatever may be the case, a lot of money has gone into this trip. And whose money is it anyway?
The High Court which heard the petition by Mr. Bhat has admitted it and also ordered issuance of notice to the State government among others.
The CJ along with five other judges spent 20 days in the US. Surely this money was not their own. This trip could be classified as a junket. Maybe the judges learnt a lesson or two on disposal of cases. But doesn’t it amount to double standards to hear a case of pertaining to the legislators when they themselves have sailed very recently on the same boat.
This is not the first time that such a case has come up before the High Court. When Justice N K Jain was the chief justice, Mr. Bhat had challenged a junket of the Congress legislators. The junket was stayed but the stay later vacated and the legislators were given the green signal to set foot on foreign soil.
Now just because the High Court ought not to hear the matter, it does not mean that the issue should die. Since it is in the nature of a public interest litigation, it is heard by the Chief Justice who himself was part of such a junket. Should he ask some other judge to hear the matter or should he refer it to the speaker of the house?
Ideally the matter should be referred to the speaker and when his order is challenged, it should come up before a judge who was not part of the very recent judges’ junket.
Legislators’ junket -Is the court justified in hearing this plea?
By Devil’s Advocate