Ram Jethmalani became a household name in the late 80's thanks to his "10 questions a day" to Rajiv Gandhi in Indian Express. When asked about the question Rajiv retorted "I dont have to answer every dog that barks". Jethmalani returned volley, "Mr PM dogs bark only at thieves". Those were heady days. As a naive teenager I was drawn like a moth into such grandstanding. Jethmalani, A.G. Noorani, Arun Shourie, Ramnath Goenka were all heroes. Gurumurthy's articles on Reliance Industries were a huge hit. Little did we know that Express was merely taking sides in a corporate war. Parsi Goenka was siding with Parsi Nusli Wadia the owner of Bombay Dyeing. I still remember Jethmalani's questions. Jethmalani had traced where Amitabh's children studied. Abhishek Bachchan was studying in Aiglon Villars in Switzerland. Their school fees and how Amitabh could afford such foreign exchange was a question. Another day a photo of Ajitabh Bachchan's home in Switzerland was splashed on the front pages with its price tag. Again a question of how Amitabh and his brother Ajitabh could afford it. The not so subtle innuendo was that Amitabh had siphoned Bofors kickbacks. This was vintage Jethmalani. As 17 year old little could I appreciate that much of what he did was invasion of privacy, sheer tabloid journalism, neither of which are hallmarks of a criminal lawyer who was so brilliant that he got a special permission to practice law at 18.
Today Jethmalani is a hero in Tamil Nadu for playing, what is portrayed as, lead role in getting a stay from Madras High Court against the hanging sentence for the Rajiv assassination convicts. The other two lawyers were Colin Gonsalves and R.Vaigai. Both Colin and Vaigai come with impeccable credentials. Vaigai, the only Tamil in the defense panel, is spearheading a forum to hold the judiciary accountable. Vaigai is instrumental in the impeachment proceedings against Justice Dinakaran. Colin an IIT graduate turned to become Law student to fight for human rights.
At the outset let me state categorically that I've nothing against a death row person availing every single legal avenue to prove his/her innocence. That said I am completely repelled by the obnoxious mob mentality. This whole circus is riddled with contradictions and hypocrasies. Most who support the trio were acerbic critics of Anna Hazare's protests. Every criticism they unfairly flung at Anna is now completely true of this so called 'people's sentiment'.
When Anna commended Narendra Modi the secular brigade pounced on him and tore him to shreds. Today we have Ram Jethmalani an ex-BJP minister as defense counsel. If BJP as opposition party takes advantage of Anna's protest Anna becomes guilty by association. Yet not a murmur about this BJP cadre who is defending the darling trio. The flag waving and shouting of 'Bharat Mata ki jai" were decried as nationalism that borders on chauvinism. Today I am told that any Tamil who opposes clemency for the trio ceases to be a Tamil. Anna Hazare was mostly upbraided by so called intellectuals as blackmailing the government. Anna's protest was censured as unconstitutional. This is where the hypocrisy touches a nadir. Today the protests seeking clemency are anything but non-violent or constitutional.
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These are called students. If this is called civil protest I just lost my dictionary. As I was narrating the High Court order to my dad he surprised me by asking "Why Jethmalani and Colin, why do they keep running to North Indian lawyers, could they not find good lawyers in Tamil Nadu". Note, that self-styled leader of Tamil language and custodian of Tamil diaspora Karunanidhi begged Jethmalani to appear in person for his daughter's bail plea. I was mulling over the choice of lawyers and wondering could not Tamil Nadu's law colleges produce good lawyers. Then I remembered the Madras Law College student violence when a student was beaten to pulp. Have we forgotten how lawyers acted like hooligans in High Court. The Sri Krishna committee report gave a scalding picture of lawyers who were practically lawbreakers. From this cesspool people like Vaigai are rarity to flower. One blogger rants against North Indians for not joining the chorus and instead questioning the propriety of the circus. Little does he realise that his trio owes their grace period to North Indians.
Another irony is that most who decry the judicial process today were the ones who were gloating over the humiliation suffered by Jaya in the uniform syllabus shenanigans. Thanks to that ruling today students read a history textbook that has a section titled "achievement of Hitler". Those who gloated then now find the shoe on the other foot. Jaya who is still smarting from that humiliation hesitated to question the Supreme court ruling or take any action that would invite potential wrath of SC. Finally she caved in. The TN assembly resolution is not worth the paper its written on and sets a very dangerous precedent for mob rule in questions of law. When Tamils get angry that Delhi called the resolution "not binding" and threaten secession they should remember that Salman Kurshid was merely acting constitutional.
The most shameful hypocrisy was Perarivalan's own clemency petition. He says as 19 year old he was attracted to EVR's ideology and that he supported 'anti-Brahminism". Then without batting an eyelid he cites V.R.Krishna Iyer's letter in support of his clemency petition. Today DK partisans refer to Krishna Iyer with reverence "noted legal luminary Krishna Iyer 'himself'..". If Krishna Iyer had said anything different these guys would not hesitate to lynch him and deride him with obscene epithets referring to Krishna Iyer's caste. Every time I think one cannot go further down in hypocrisy these guys show me a new nadir. By the way I wonder what makes a 19 year old boy hate an ethnic community. Maybe, as Karunanidhi wrote recently, if released he might he lead a 'reformed' life. Karunanidhi did not realise that that statement implies guilt, a fact violently disputed by his idolaters. R.Vaigai, daughter of noted communist leader P.Ramamurthy hails from a Brahmin family. I do hope Perarivalan gets released and realises to whom he owes his life to.
The most heinous hypocrisy is concerning Rajiv himself. I am yet to hear from anyone who supports the trio as innocent voice any remorse over the gruesome murder of a man. All this love for humane punishment is basically bollocks. I see tweets about how Rajiv turned a blind eye to the Sikh genocide. Yes it was shameful. But that does not mean his killing can be justified. The hypocrisy is even more cutting when one notes that none of these people called Rajiv shameful at that time for that. It was just Sikhs being killed in far off Delhi. One commentator made a chilling observation that because Rajiv was North Indian Tamils are keen to overlook his killing and shamelessly ask for clemency beyond the purview of law. Let me reiterate that I do not grudge any redress within the confines of the law. There are many valid grounds for questioning how justice was dispensed with.
Ram Jethmalani appearing for Kanimozhi cited her gender as reason to be enlarged on bail. Today Jethmalani adds that courts should listen to people's voice. Jethmalani has gone senile. Every associate of Anna Hazare was brought under a microscope for any dirty linen to be discovered. Arundhati's article citing Ford Foundation funding for Kejriwal was widely circulated and tweeted. Here is Jethmalani who earned the reputation of being "smugglers lawyer". Barring a few publicity seeking cases like Kehar Singh his clientele reads like a rogues gallery. Haji Mastan, Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh etc. The worst charade of Jethmalani was his U-turn of Afzal Guru. After having defended Guru saying he did not get a fair trial Jethmalani did a U-turn when he needed a BJP seat. In chilling words Jethmalani declared "What I had said was that such indoctrinated elements (like Afzal) shouldn’t be allowed to die easily, but they should made to rot in jails,” . All for a Rajya Sabha ticket. If Jethmalani had appeared for the prosecution all this dirty laundry would be shouted from the rooftops by my Dravidian brethren.
When Arjun Singh, in a naked attempt to upstage Manmohan, implemented Mandal in IIT's it raised furore on both sides of the aisle. Those for it shrieked "what is sacred about IIT, do we need islands of excellence", "what is excellence after all, who decides it", "merit is a bogey". Today its IIT-ian Colin Gonsalves who is called for defense. After all did not V.P. Singh come scurrying to Memorial Sloan Kettering after proudly announcing the first Mandal doctor in AIIMS. Karunanidhi once acidly asked "what good is education" and then sent Maran to Houston. Dont we know these scumbags.
After surveying the endless list of hypocrisies I feel like asking, "at long last, Sir, have you no decency".