Ending the judicial stand-off


Editorial May 09, 2010

The government and the judiciary could once more be moving towards a destabilising clash. At the moment, they appear to be standing opposite each other, arms akimbo and smiles wiped off faces. The cooperation we require to keep things moving along is not visible. Neither is the willingness to follow the constitution that is essential for the running of any system. The document is intended to avoid the kind of conflict we see now. The reluctance to do so is a key reason behind the problems we face.

The perception in some quarters is that the government’s reluctance to follow court directions on the NRO and its declaration that the matter of the Swiss cases stands closed stems from a desire to cover up corruption. The flurry of resignations that have shaken the law ministry stem from intervention by the law minister. The Supreme Court has been told letters were never written to Swiss authorities; the law secretary has stepped down rather than explain what is going on. He, along with the NAB chairman, had been called by the five-member bench hearing the case.

The problems inherent in the situation are many. The idea that the law minister may be working at odds with the requirements of the law is hardly comforting. Nor is the confrontational path that has been taken because that will only lead the country and its institutions towards a troubled path. The last thing that we need at this point in time is for our key institutions to involve themselves in a confrontation in which everyone is the loser. People everywhere are indeed disturbed by the possibility that our institutions may be unwilling to get along. There is only one option available. The boxing gloves and the accompanying belligerence must be put away, the constitution carefully studied and a commitment made to follow the rules it lays down, so that we can avoid the chaos that threatens to engulf us if matters are not quickly sorted out.

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