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weighing machines and the judiciary

Updated: May 13

weighing machines and the judiciary


as  commissioner, i visited the office of assistant controller of weights and measures.

the office had recently bought a new weighing machine. the assistant controller took a small, very small, piece of paper and weighed it on the machine. it weighed a few milligrams. he then asked me to sign on the paper. i did and he weighed the paper again. the weight had gone up by six milligrams.

i remarked that i always knew the weight of my signatures. in the big scheme, it hardly matters.

there was embarrassment all-round. but it was passed off as a joke. the signature of commissioner does carry weight.

i recall this story because my contention is that judges are just weighing machines, all the way from newly recruited judge to the chief justice of india. they are nothing but weighing machines.

how is that?

the judges weigh the evidence which is presented to them. whichever side has more weight wins. it depends upon the lawyers how much they argue and how. their arguments add weight to the issue at hand. this makes the difference.

then there is appeal to a higher court. another judge, senior to the earlier one, weighs the evidence and the arguments. being better paid for, the weighing is supposed to be more sophisticated but it is weighing all the same. his results may be different from those of the junior judge.

the same game is played at the high court level. the difference  is that two judges weigh the evidence and the arguments. they are even better paid for weighing machines and their weighing is supposed to be superior. sometimes it happens that their reading of the scale is different  and so there are conflicting orders. then the third weighing machine is brought in and it decides which machine was better.

procedure is almost same in the supreme court. but there is difference. the lawyers are more sophisticated and so are their arguments. it is difficult, sometimes, to decide. so then it is passed on to a group of weighing machines. the size of the group can keep on increasing. to date group of nine is considered to be sufficient but eleven may not be far off.  

at no point, you will notice, justice is brought in as a notion. shri mahavir tyagi said in constituent assembly – "justice, in fact, does not depend on law. it is very strange that the british have created in the minds of people a sort of misgiving about justice. people have been made to think that a true interpretation of law is real justice. it is not so. in fact justice is an eternal truth; it is much to above law."

but the judges, or rather weighing machines, go by the weight of evidence and arguments. nothing else can justify otherwise, the judges in supreme court reversing the decision of high courts with no liability attached to the judges (rather weighing machines) for not weighing the evidence properly. after all, machines cannot be faulted. they are all learned.

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