Friday, September 11, 2009

To Blog; or not to blog!

The captioned question is in some way in the same league as Hamlet's existential dilemma of 'To be, or not to be; that is the question';…To suffer in the mind, 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', answers the 'to be' query; or 'take arms against a sea of troubles by opposing them, to die; to sleep' would resolve the 'not to be' choice.

A sitting judge does not speak otherwise through his judgments. He shall not take positions in the public domain on any issue that is likely to come before him in court that may ultimately compromise on his impartiality.

Do not judges make public speeches or attend seminars, express their views and enter into debates? Do they not write articles in print media on legal issues? Public speeches pale into thin air. If they are captured in human ears, they shall be but stored in forgetful memory. If they get into print, they shall be trashed by passage of time. If they are recorded in magnetic tapes or digitized, they shall likewise be consumed to oblivion in due course. In any event, they shall not cause ripples beyond the immediate vicinity of persons who happen to hear the judges speak or read and forget what they read.

Posting a material in the web carries a certain aura of invincibility, a powerful permanence and an inevitable global presence. So long as this blog was read only in a few homes by the compulsive surfers who may have chanced to land on this web page, all seemed well. Suddenly things have changed for the better or the worse.

There is a person who asks me whether any mother would feel comfortable about bringing a case seeking for custody, if anyone knew my alleged 'gender bias'? There is another person who wants a legal advice. There is another person who wants to post his comment that contains a personal innuendo against a celebrity. I may keep the debate open ended and not take positions; not get judgmental, but even if one person doubts my impartiality, I would have done the institution of judiciary incalculable harm. I have sworn to upholding the constitutional values and I shall not be seen to swerve an inch from my oath of office.

Not on one occasion have I used first person singular in all my posts. I meant to be impersonal about the contents expressed, but I realize, some may even suspect that there is a deceit in the tenor. Sentences could be constructed in passive voice, but still I may have unwittingly employed my personal predilections. Time has come to wind up. What I had written as a last piece bidding good bye to my weekly edits in the law journal that I was editing when I was still a lawyer, seems relevant here, with some minor modifications.

Gilda Radner, an Emmy Award winner and an American Comedienne, who died at 42 with ovarian cancer said, "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next." I do not know where I have arrived; where I have led you or if I have led you anywhere at all. My tryst with my blogs is over. Some readers have asked me, if there is any other judge in the whole world who blogs. There is also incidentally a reminder that somewhere, the propriety is breached. I began all this when I was an editor of a law journal, continued with it, as a shy bride would walk to the marriage pandal. Now I hang up my boots. I went through with it, with good intentions to constantly kindle your interest to stay put with what is happening in the legal world.

Am I glad, it is all over?


Am I sad that it is over now?


What is good in a goodbye, if it is not a first-rate experience? As Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan say in Annie, a Hollywood Musical, 'How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!'

'A goodbye isn't painful unless you're never going to say hello again'. I will move over to other tasks and come back again someday to say, Hello!


Advocate P.R.Jayarajan said...

மாண்பமை அய்யா அவர்களுக்கு,


உங்கள் வலைப்பதிவுகளை தொடர்ந்து வாசித்து நிறைய நுணுக்கமான சட்ட ஞானமும், ஆங்கில இலக்கிய அறிவையும் பெற்று பயன் அடைந்து வருபவன் என்ற வகையில் தங்களின் இந்த 'பிரியா விடை' பதிவு என்னை சற்றே சோகத்தில் ஆழ்த்தியுள்ளது.

'சீசரின் மனைவி சந்தேகத்திற்கு அப்பாற்பட்டவளாக இருக்க வேண்டும்' என்று சொல்லியதோடு மட்டுமல்லாமல், அதை செயலிலும் காட்டும் வண்ணம் உங்கள் சொத்து குறித்த தகவல்களை 'தானே முன்வந்து' வெளியிட்டு பூனைக்கு முதலில் மணியை கட்டி எங்கள் தமிழகத்தின் பெருமையை பார் அறிய செய்து விட்டீர்கள். சீசரின் மனைவி' கதை பற்றி நீங்கள் வலைப்பதிவில் சொன்னது எல்லா பத்திரிக்கைகளுக்கும் பெரிய செய்தியாக போய்விட்டது.

ஆனால் அதுவே தங்களுக்கு ஒரு நெருடலாக இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும் என்றே நான் நம்புகிறேன். வலைப்பதிவாளராக தொடர்ந்து எழுதலாமா, வேண்டாமா என்ற இரு வேறு சிந்தனைகள் உங்களுக்கு எழ எது காரணமாக இருக்கக்கூடும் என்று ஒரு வெளி ஆளாக நின்று பார்த்தால் ஒன்று மட்டும் தெளிவாக தெரிகிறது. அதாவது பத்திரிக்கைகள் உங்களை ஒரு வலைப்பதிவாளராக அடையாளம் காட்டி 'பிரபலம்' செய்தது உங்கள் நீதிப் பணிக்கு குந்தகம் ஆகி விடுமோ என்ற நீங்கள் கொண்டிருக்கும் ஓங்கிய நல்லெண்ணம்தான் (bonafide) என்று என்னால் கணிக்க முடிகிறது.

இப்படி நான் கணிப்பதற்கும் என்னிடம் ஒரு காரணம் உள்ளது. உங்கள் வலைப்பதிவை தொடர்ந்து வாசித்து வருபவன் என்பது எனது சக வழக்குரைஞர்களுக்கும், நண்பர்களுக்கும், நான் ஆசிரியராக உள்ள 'நமது சட்டப்பார்வை' திங்களிதழ் வாசகர்களுக்கும் நன்றாகத் தெரியும். அவர்கள் என்னை பார்க்கும் போது 'ஜஸ்டிஸ் இப்போ பிளாக்லே லேட்டஸ்டா என்ன எழுதி இருக்கார்' என்று கேட்பதுண்டு. இது அண்மை காலங்களில் அதிகமாகிவிட்டது. நான் "நீங்களே அவரோட பிளாக்-க்கு போய் வாசிக்கலாமே" என்று சொல்லி வருகிறேன். இப்படி நாளுக்கு நாள் அய்யா அவர்களின் எழுத்தின் மீதுள்ள மோகம் அதிகரித்துக்கொண்டே வருகிறது. 'பிரபலம்' கூடுகிறது.

ஆனால் இதுவே சிக்கல். நீதிபதி பதவி என்பது "நெருப்பாற்றின் குறுக்கே நூற் பாலம் காட்டி நடப்பதற்கு" ஒப்பாகும் என்பது அய்யா அவர்களுக்கும் நன்கு தெரியும். நீதிபதிகளின் சொத்து விவரத்தை கேட்குமளவு மக்கள் நேரடியாக பங்கு பெரும் மக்களாட்சி தற்போது நடந்து கொண்டு இருக்கிறது. 'நாட்டில் இவ்வளவு வழக்குகள் தேங்கி இருக்கும் போது வலையில் பதிக்க ஒரு நீதியரசருக்கு எப்படி நேரம் கிடைக்கிறது?' என்று கூட அடுத்து ஒருவர் கேள்வி கேட்கலாம். வீண் விமர்சனங்கள், வேண்டா விவாதங்கள் என நீண்டு அவை முடிவில் மன உளைச்சலை ஏற்படுத்திவிடக்கூடும். எனவேதான் அய்யா அவர்கள் இந்த முடிவுக்கு வந்துள்ளீர்கள் என்று நினைக்கிறன்.

தங்களின் இந்த முடிவை நான் எதிர்நோக்கியதுதான். எனவே எனக்கு வியப்பு ஏற்படவில்லை. சோகம் ஏற்பட்டது. ஆனாலும் அது ஆரம்பத்தில் சொன்னது போல 'சற்றே' தான். இந்த நேரத்திற்கு, சூழலுக்கு என்ன முடிவு எடுக்க வேண்டுமோ அதை மாண்பமை அய்யா அவர்கள் சரியாகவே எடுத்துள்ளீர்கள்.

எனினும் அய்யா அவர்கள் மீண்டும் சட்ட புத்தகம் எழுததொடங்கலாம், (நீதிமன்ற பணிக்கு யாதொரு குந்தகமும் வராமல் நேரம் ஒதுக்கி). ஆந்திர பிரதேச உயர் நீதிமன்றத்தின் மாண்பமை நீதியரசர் திருமிகு பி. எஸ். நாராயணா அவர்கள் இதுகாறும் 100 க்கும் அதிகமான சட்ட நூல்களை இயற்றி உள்ளார் என்பது இங்கு குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

தங்களின் ஆழ்ந்த சட்ட ஞானம், அற்புத மொழி புலமை மேலும் ஓங்க, தாங்கள் தங்கள் இணையர் மற்றும் மக்களுடன் பல்லாண்டு ஆரோக்கியமாக வாழ இறைவனை வேண்டுகிறேன்.

வலைப்பதிவில் இருந்து பிரியா விடை தர மனம் ஒப்பவில்லை என்றாலும், 'மீண்டும் சந்திப்போம்' என்ற நினைவுடன் தலை வணங்கி உரிய பணிவடக்கத்துடன் விடை தருகின்றேன்.


பி. ஆர். ஜெயராஜன், எம்.எல்., டி.எ.டி.ஆர்.,
அரசு விருது பெற்ற சட்ட நூலாசிரியர், இசைவுத் தீர்ப்பாளர்,
உறுதி மொழிகளின் ஆணையர், ஆசிரியர் : நமது சட்டப்பார்வை.

Ashish said...

Respected Sir,
Deeply disappointed that i am to know that any future visits to this blog would be unfruitful, i cannot help but notice that irony in the title of the blog, 'Being Non-Judgmental' and the decision brought out through this post. It would however be much inappropriate for me to comment on the reasons for the same, howsoevermuch i may personally disagree. Thus, without much ado i would like to thank you for providing an insightful and thought provoking blog, dealing with the most current and challenging of issues faced by society. It was indeed a pleasure reading though each piece.
Ashish Virmani
Student, National Law University, Jodhpur

K.R.Srivarahan said...

Dear Sir,

It is disappointing that you have decided to wind up your blog. I am aware that it must have been extremely difficult for you to create transparency in the midst of cloistered culture of Indian judiciary.
It is ironic that you are discontinuing when your blog has deservedly gathered the critical mass. I was hoping that your blog was only the beginning and more and more judges would emulate your example and initiate their blogs. Therefore, your present decision is doubly disappointing.
You had the courage to own up your blog and you did not take shelter in an anonymous blog.

I plead that you must change your decision and continue your exercise in the interest of society.


sahil said...

Respected Sir,
Iam also deeply disappointed on knowin dat you are closing ur blog. Its a humble request that Sir plz dont do this.

Thanking You

Sahil Sharma

Anonymous said...

sir you took the right decision. once the views of a judge are known it becomes easy to win a case!

sadaadmi said...

justice sir,

I am disappointed that you wish to say 'good bye'

good things are never to be concluded.

you may take little rest to consider
coming back .

animesh said...

perhaps a nom de plume could be an acceptable compromise...

K.Kannan said...

wouldn't that be gross hypocrisy?

Anonymous said...

perhaps comments shouldn't be allowed? :-)

but yes web removes the neat boundary between the public, personal and hierarchical interface and when a job is supposed to be impersonal, impartial, then it perhaps requires this kind of sacrifice as long as one holds the job.


maneesh said...

Don't stop blogging. It is good to know the views of a sititng judge on wide-ranging issues. There is no conflict with your job.

K.Kannan said...

this is precisely where i think i have failed. after 1st august 2007, i have expressed no opinions on judgments. i have merely paraphrased views on legal topics and judgments but people view the blog as expressing opinions.

Anonymous said...

I understand your decision and the rationale.I hope that you would continue to write and express your views in some other fora. Perhaps you can use this blog to keep readers informed of them. I read your blog posts with interest.

naveen said...

Respected Sir
Today when I woke up and open the newspaper it gave the sad news and sting for those who follows you as mentor. It is disappointing that in future we canot get enlightened by the rays you have spread . But I am disagree that your articles are confliting with your JOB.
But I can see a little HOPE that WE will catch you on some other day.
naveen batra

Anonymous said...

As a neutral observer, your decision seems rationale, for being a judge (and its code of conduct) does make it tougher to be publically seen and heard.
However, seen in its proper perspective, such publication lends credibility & transparency to the office & in my view is not an expression on matters that may come before your goodself . Decisions made therein would depend on facts of those matters and views expressed here cannot attract res judicata so to say.
Wish you all the best.
Thankfully, we will continue to 'hear' you through your judgments.

Y.Prakash said...

Is there any way we could file an application under Order XLVII?

Tamojit Chatterjee said...

Hello Sir,
Its been a real pleasure reading your blog...and personally it came as a shock to me that am not gonna c any posts updated on this site any longer....
as much as i personally disagree with your view the same time I also understand the dilemma you may be Cicero said " To each his own"
I just want to thank you for keeping us updated with insightful material..
Eagerly await a "Hello again" sir..

Tamojit Chatterjee
Aspiring Law Student.

பிரபு ராஜதுரை said...

I feel sad though I know that this would happen soon...

I expressed my apprehension, when I introduced your blog to the readers of my tamil blog.

Prasad said...


I agree with your decision to close the blogging. Judges belong to the specific community who exist but are not heard outside their courtroom.

This attitude has saved the Judiciary in its long history and this attitude alone will protect it.

Your language and flair was much appreciated. Penning a few books on general subjects would quench our thirst to hear you.



vskesavan said...

தமிழின பெருமைக்கு நீங்கள் என்றால் அதன் தலை குனிவிற்கு இன்னொருவர். எனவே இகழ்வதற்கும் சரி புகழ்வதற்கும் சரி இனிமேலாவது நாம் இனத்தை குறியிடாமல் இருக்க வேண்டும் என எண்ணுகிறேன்.

Prasad said...

Dear Justice Kannan,
Although it is very sad that we will not continue to get enlightened with jurisprudence in such a readable and lucid format, we do understand your predicament. Thanks for blogging and putting on the web an invaluable reference material.

DV Prasad Salem

jasveen said...

i shall pray that God blesses me with a short span of time, for exchanging view points with you.i shall wait for d day. i have always believed even ONE GOOD PERSON can make a difference....and you have proved it.

Satish said...

I think you are being overcautious here. In my view, absolute silence on behalf of a judge is not warranted; the key is to ensure that you do not say anything to prejudge a legal question that might come before your court. So far, I am unable to find anything of the sort that might be perceived as inappropriate on your blog.

As you know very well, judges write books and articles all the time. They give lectures as well on many an occasion. Why is a blog any different? Judge Posner, one of the most eminent members of the American Federal judiciary writes a post every week on his blog wherein he explicitly opines on numerous contemporary policy questions. His views are criticized all the time but no one has ever said that he is wrong to express them.

All the criticism that I have seen about you appeared, to put it mildly, facetious and misguided. That is not at all surprising and only to be expected whether it is a blog, a book or a judgment you write. In a country of over a billion people, there will never be an instance where something you say however innocuous does not end up offending someone. It would be quite unfortunate if that were to stop a thoughtful person like you from posting your views. I suppose in modern times, a certain degree of thick skin is necessary for any public figure including a judge. You might recall how Justice Scalia of the US Supreme Court issued a memorandum rejecting a motion of recusal from a case where a conflict of interest was alleged based on media reports.

Karthik Soundarajan said...

There is no one resolving the choice of "not' to 'be'. No one ends his own life because of what "he is" but it is always because of a dissatisfaction of "what he should be" or "how it should be" and that "should be" is an yard stick set by society for him and not by the individual! His inability to fit that mold or measure up to that yard stick is what makes him take decisions to change or end it. It is not an personal choice but one that is driven to be taken.

Right now your a honorable judge and its is no surprise that society has put pressure to fit that mold or measure up to it?!

However i do not see in what way a blog comes in the way of upholding the honor of the justice system! Just like there could be difference of opinion in court rooms, there could also be some while blogging! The best way is to delete those comments that ask personal favor and go on with it.


I dont know what the right legal disclaimer would be.

Whatever it is sir, i assume with the preying media around, it is at your own risk that you post. Because i came to know about your blog through NDTV!

RkSN said...

Dear Sir,
Lets have a blog which talks about cases and legal community around the world. The aim of the blog should be to highlight landmark, intelligent rulings/ arguments and important cases- leading to intelligent discussion on the legal aspects.
Something when 4-5 legal luminaries discuss when they keep aside their egos should be made possible. It will be very educative and enlightening.
No need for everybody to come and plant his stories. Somebody who has interest can come to the blog.
Please don't associate your position as it might mislead some that it is opinion of the court, whenever you say something.

K.Kannan said...

Have you not visited the blog, Law and other things?

K.Kannan said...

Thanks, Satish for reminding about Justice Scalia's memorandum. It is doubtful if any judge in India would have written how and what he has written. He has exhibited remarkable sense of self (righteousness, confidence and esteem) and her stature and standing as a judge would perhaps have made it possible.
There are still lot of people (that includes lots of well meaning friends) that blogging is eclectic journalism that ill-fits a judge's role. Like in 'declaration of assets' issue, the debate must not originate from a judge. It should start from the public or the press or lawyers.
A judge that blogs is perceived to be a person who is wasting his judicial time. The suggested innuendo is, 'I don't have time, how do you manage it?'Publishing in newspapers or magazines or giving a talk in public is regarded dignified exposition of intellect. Blogging is for the less-respected, veritable tyros experimenting in writing skills - so is the belief. Things may change over a period of time. I am willing to bide by time, unwilling as I am, to change the perception myself.

K.R.Srivarahan said...

You had promised us:
"I will move over to other tasks and come back again someday to say, Hello"
It is now a year since you made that promise. Isn't time you restarted blogging?

Termination of pregnancy said...

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