Chief Justice Parajuli and some of his league were beyond offended when Dr KC used the words ‘mafia don’ to describe him. It’s not a particularly nice word, you see. I mean, it plays out great on the silver screen and can also help you win elections in this country but, as the head of the judiciary, it’s not really a title to aspire to or indeed write home about. What this latest episode of the Chief Justice’s – pun intended – bad judgement really shows you is that taking offense has now become an art form in this country too. Dr KC was summoned simply to publicly register his displeasure and let him know that his ‘indecent’ comments had tarnished the image of the judges and the judiciary.
I’m sorry, but which country are our judges living in? No one needs to bother tarnishing the image of the judiciary when they all are quite capable of doing it themselves. It doesn’t take me to tell these folks that public confidence in the judiciary was already at an all-time low before this collective rush of blood to the head. I suppose our judges have wide discretion to decide what contempt of court is but was this exaggerated display of indignation really necessary? Instead all this effort could have been spent on finding our CJ a dermatologist to – you know - help him develop a thicker skin and all that.
Albeit Dr KC’s words were aimed at one individual, a lot of folks comprising the judicial establishment seemed obligated – almost compelled – to close ranks around the CJ in a misplaced display of professional fidelity. On the flip side though, it was heartening to see many members of the judiciary opposed to this entire circus despite the fact that in this country people in power are so marinated in a culture of impunity that the moment someone raises a voice, it is seen as an affront not to them but – rather laughably – to the prestige and dignity of their post. Never mind the fact that these very people will spend the rest of their tenure undressing that very position of all its dignity.
The politicization of the judiciary over the last half a decade or so is something that has been alarmingly stealthy in its occurrence. Sushila Karki spoke at length about it after her retirement and, whether you respect or detest her, most people are inclined to believe that there is more than a kernel of truth to her statements. While a lot of us have some sort of grasp (and opinion) on the corruption in politics and bureaucracy, many have been unaware or even apathetic to the subversion of the judiciary by virtue of it being a specialized organ of the state. At the forefront of this gradual erosion of judicial neutrality are the three major political parties spreading their tentacles and politicizing just about every part of the state machinery, including the judiciary.
The allegations levelled against the CJ are emblematic of this rot and, if even one of them were to be proven right, his position would become untenable. But at the moment it’s one person’s word against the other and no matter how ‘Gandhian’ our regard for Dr KC is, these issues until proven are just that – allegations. But as I write this, the Supreme Court has initiated an inquiry into his citizenship, certificate, and past judgements. Our ‘Shreeman’ Chief Justice may just find that things are about to get very ‘gambhir’ indeed.
Ironically enough, it is this unnecessary spectacle that promises to revitalize the KC campaign. In this age of transient media stories and short attention spans, many people had adopted a blasé attitude to KC’s struggles. But this headline-grabbing stunt has brought it to the fore once again and positioned Parajuli as the villain. Every good struggle needs a target – a tangible one instead of just ‘medical mafia’ or ‘the justice system’. With this stunt, our CJ just offered himself, garnish and all, on a plate.
Having said that, even if this hurdle is negotiated by the KC team, things are probably going to get harder before (and if) they eventually get any better. The allegiances of the incoming government are not exactly a secret, given that their ‘well-wishers’ and cadres are neck deep in investments in the medical sector.
However, it is heartening to see the support of political leaders from various parties even though there have been no official statements from the parties themselves. Dr KC’s struggle reminds one of those old 80s films where one hero battled against the corrupt ‘system’ embodied by the plethora of villains present in every state organ – police, judges, politicians, and more. Dr KC’s fight seems to be a modern-day remake of this old story.
The writer loves traveling, writing, and good food when he is afforded an escape from the rat race. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org