“That the Supreme Court let down Indian democracy during the Emergency period is one of the greatest disasters in the history of the country,” renowned politician and the highest paid lawyer in the country Ram Jethmalani said in Bengaluru on Monday.
Jethmalani was addressing a gathering after a symbolic unveiling ceremony of the foundation stone for the Sri Ramakrishna Hegde Cultural Centre, which coincided with the 90th birth anniversary of the late Karnataka chief minister.
Jethmalani who came to know Hedge as a lawyer has fond memories of the legendary politician.
“Hegde was a very pleasant politician for a change. He was sweet even to his opponents. It is difficult to come across such politicians nowadays,’’ he said.
During the infamous emergency period, Jethmalani was the chairman of the Bar Council of India.
“There was an arrest warrant against Hegde. He succumbed to it and went to jail,’’ said Jethmalani. A warrant was issued against Jethmalani too, who was accused of having disparaged Indira Gandhi but he managed to get a stay on it.
Jethmalani said he was furious when he appeared before the Supreme Court. “I asked the Chief Justice whether he had heard of a country called Ghana. Ghana had a Chief Justice who helped the country draft a Draconian law. When the law came into force, the Chief Justice was the first to be picked up under that law and for two years nobody heard about him,’’ he said.
Following the political tension in the country Jethmalani had to move to the US. “None other than the Commissioner of Police drove me to the airport. I am the only Indian who got political asylum in the US,’’ said Jethmalani. After the emergency he came back and took his revenge on Indira Gandhi.
Jethmalani said the plight of the poor in India is a major cause for concern. “Democracy is not democracy for the rich. It should be a democracy for the poor. The poor in this country are in no good shape, even to appreciate the benefits of democracy. Somebody has to do something,’’ he said, amid thundering applause.
The Ramkrishna Hegde Cultural Centre is an initiative of Prasiddha Foundation, spearheaded by renowned classical dancer Prathibha Prahlad.