Controversy Surrounding Supreme Court's Motto

Former SC Judge Kurian Joseph's call to drop SC motto "Yato Dharmastato Jaya" sparks debate on aligning with national ethos.

Former Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph's recent remarks have sparked controversy regarding the Supreme Court's motto "Yato Dharmastato Jaya" (Where there is Dharma, there is Victory). Speaking at an event organized by left-liberals and the portal The Wire, Joseph suggested dropping the motto, claiming it diverges from the national ethos. He argued, "Truth is the Constitution. Dharma is not always the truth." Joseph's remarks raise concerns about the role of the judiciary and the significance of the Supreme Court's motto in upholding justice and constitutional values.

Joseph's comparison of the Catholic Church to India's Preamble further complicates the issue. His assertion that the Church assimilates diverse cultures akin to India's constitutional preamble is contentious. It overlooks the judiciary's unique role in interpreting laws and ensuring justice. The Supreme Court's motto embodies the essence of judicial deliberation, emphasizing moral and ethical righteousness, alongside legal correctness.

Moreover, Joseph's critique extends to the functioning of the Supreme Court, particularly the Master of the Roster system and case allocation. While advocating for transparency, his comments could inadvertently constrain the Chief Justice of India's discretion, leading to bureaucratic rigidity. Allegations of judges' biases affecting case outcomes further highlight concerns about the judiciary's independence and impartiality.

In response, it's crucial to recognize the significance of the Supreme Court's motto. Rooted in Hindu scriptures, it symbolizes justice, righteousness, and duty. Dharma, in this context, represents justice and truth, aligning with constitutional principles rather than religious connotations. Dismissing its relevance to India's ethos undermines the country's rich cultural heritage and legal tradition.

Additionally, Joseph's concerns about case allocation echo broader debates about judicial transparency and fairness. Advocates' quest for favorable benches underscores the importance of impartiality in dispensing justice. However, suggestions to regulate case allocation risk undermining judicial autonomy and flexibility, essential for adapting to evolving legal challenges.

Ultimately, the controversy surrounding Joseph's remarks underscores the complex interplay between tradition, law, and governance in India. While advocating for judicial reform and transparency, it's essential to preserve the judiciary's independence and uphold constitutional values. Balancing these objectives requires nuanced approaches that prioritize justice, fairness, and the rule of law.