A Kashmiri King who did Justice

The Rajtarangini’, (River of Kings), an epic Sanskrit poem by the Kashmiri poet Kalhan (12th Century), mentions how Chandrapida, a King of Kashmir, upheld he Rule of Law, and protected a charmakar (cobbler)
against his own officials.

The King’s officials had planned to build a temple of Lord Tribhuvanaswamy on a land, on a piece of which the cobbler’s hut was situated. The cobbler refused to remove his hut despite the orders of the officials.

When the officials complained of the cobbler’s
obstinacy to the King, instead of ordering demolition of the hut, the King reprimanded the officials for trying to encroach on the cobbler’s land.
The King told them :
नियम्यताम् विनिर्माणं यद् अन्यत्र विधीयताम्
परभूमि अपहरण सुकृतं कः कलंकेत
ये द्रष्टारः सदसताम् ते धर्म विनुगणा क्रियाः
वयमेव विदधमश्चेत यातु न्यायेण को अध्वना

i.e.

“Stop the construction, or build the temple elsewhere
Who would tarnish such a pious act by illegally
depriving a man of his land ?
If we, who are the judges of what is right and what is not, act unlawfully, who would then abide by the law ?
(Rajtarangini, chapter 4, pages 59-60)

 

Later, overwhelmed by the sense of justice of the King, the cobbler sought an audience with him. When brought before the King he said:
“Just as the palace is to Your Majesty, so is the hut to me. I could not bear its demolition. However, if Your Majesty asks for it, I shall give it up, seeing your just
behaviour”

 

Subsequently the King purchased it after paying a satisfactory price.
The cobbler then told the King with folded hands :
राजधर्म अनुरोधेन पर्वत्ता तयोचिता
स्वस्ति तुभ्यं चिरं स्थेया धर्म्या वृत्तांत पद्धति
दर्शयन् ईदृशीह श्रद्धा श्रद्धेया धर्मचारिणाम
i.e.
Yielding to another, however low, adhering to the principles of Rajdharma,is the appropriate course for a King. I wish you well.
May you live long, upholding the supremacy of the law.”
(Rajtarangini Chapter 4, pp.75-77)
Thus, under a just King the supremacy of the law was upheld, and the weak (the cobbler ) prevailed over the strong ( the King’s officials).

10 COMMENTS

  1. Respected Sir,

    It is to bring to your notice that there is a very sorry state of affairs in the appointment of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Bihar. On 10.10.2022, the Bihar Public Service Commission declared its final results of judicial services. In the interview, approximately 278 students (41%) were declared failed. There are so many candidates who have more marks than the cut off marks (including mains + interview). However, they failed to make it to the list because of the draconian minimum criteria (35%) in the interview. According to the recruitment rules, a candidate needs to secure a minimum of 35% marks, i.e., 35 marks out of 100 marks, in the interview/viva-voce to be considered for the final merit list. The candidate may, however, have high marks in the mains (written exam), he or she shall be subjected to this 35% rule. If a candidate does not receive a score of 35% in the interview, his entire mains (written exam) of 850 marks is rendered null and void and will not be calculated for the final merit. In the instant case, many candidates have qualified for the final merit list (mains + interview marks) by their mains (written exam) marks, but they were deliberately given 34 marks in the interview so that their mains and interview marks could not be calculated for the final merit list preparation despite the fact that they could have qualified even on the basis of marks in the mains exam only. It is also necessary to mention here that many applicants who barely made the mains (written exam) cutoff are rewarded 75 to 85% of marks in the interview so that they can make their way to the final merit list.

    We contend that this rule is utterly unreasonable and draconian in nature and has no equitable ground to be continued in an exam where “merit” shall be given preference. In the instant case, the entire process of evaluation of the interview/viva-voce was irregular, arbitrary and seems to be malafide, i.e., bad in law.

    It is also important to note that there was a major difference in the results of different panels. The range of marks in the interview varied from 10 marks to 85 marks, and this has been the root cause of such an irregularity. We are beginning to lose faith in the legal system because it is operating in such an arbitrary and authoritarian manner. Despite the fact that the interview panel was representative of the Hon’ble High Court of Patna, the evaluation process of the panel was neither uniform nor normalized.
    The entire procedure of selection was opaque and non-transparent.
    We have serious concerns that there is a significant amount of irregularity involved in the process. An ideal viva voce/interview can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes if it is conducted in a comprehensive and scientific manner, as it must be in order to arrive at a fair and satisfying appraisal of a candidate’s personality. Herman Finer, in his book on “The Theory and Practice of Modern Government”, points out that “the interview should last at least half an hour”. The apex court, in its various judgments, also agreed with this observation. The Union Public Service Commission, making selections for the Indian Administrative Service, also interviews a candidate for almost half an hour. Only 11 to 12 candidates are called for an interview in a day of 5 and 1/2 hours. In this specific instance, however, 60 applicants were called for an interview each day, and on the same day, the applicants had to complete all of the necessary procedural requirements (COVID test, document verification, etc.) before getting interviewed by the panel. Approximately 5–6 minutes are allotted for each interview. In just 5 to 6 minutes, many applicants who barely made the mains cutoff (in the theoretical test) are rewarded with 75-85%, while others who performed very well in the mains are awarded 35% or less. In some cases, their mains(theoretical test) marks are so high that even if they were given zero marks in the interview, they could have easily crossed the final cutoff. But due to this draconian 35% rule, all the efforts given by the candidates in mains(theoretical test) marks, which is 850 marks, turns down to zero in just 5-6 minutes.

    The Justice Shetty Commission (1999) earlier recommended the abolition of this rule “as it leads to arbitrariness if not whimsical selection, and unjust if not unreasonable” and many states accordingly followed the same. Despite a clear recommendation from the committee, the BPSC introduced this 35% rule for the interview in 2014.

    The BPSC still strictly follows this rule, which hampers the interest of many meritorious candidates, which is quite apparent in the final results declared where almost 278 candidates failed since they were awarded less than 35% marks in interview. In the case of All India Judges Association v. Union of India (2002,SC), the Hon’ble Apex Court had accepted Justice Shetty’s Commission report which had prescribed no minimum marks for interview and the apex court had further explained that to give effect to the said judgment.

    It is not the first time that this dubious manner of evaluation has cost meritorious candidates. This has been there for the last 3 examinations for this post (28th, 29th, and 30th Bihar Judicial Services). The commission (BPSC) has turned deaf ears to complaints by the candidates. They are neither recognising it as an issue nor coming up with any reformative action. The entire process is influenced by the practises of favouritism, mala fide, and arbitrariness, which could be really said to have undermined the very process itself in its entirety or as a whole, and it being impossible to weed out the beneficiaries of one or the other irregularities, or illegalities, if any, there was hardly any justification in law to deny appointment to the other selected candidates whose selections were not found to be, in any manner, vitiated for any one or the other reasons. It is also necessary to mention here that in the current recruitment, it has been reported that sons, daughters, wives and near relatives of many judicial officers, including relatives of the sitting judge of Patna High Court, have got their names in the final list irrespective of their mains marks. Their interview marks were given in such a way that they would cross the final cutoff for the selection. This figure may increase after proper inquiry into the matter. In the name of this 35% rule, they have not only established their own collegium in Bihar’s subordinate judiciary, but they have also crucified the merit of many deserving students over the last ten years.
    Candidates are forced to endure hardships despite having more merit than other candidates. It has been made very apparent that only merit should be considered as a criterion for selection. In point of fact, merit, justice, and transparency are the ethos of the procedure for admission to such holy offices as judges; yet, there is no transparency in any part of the selection process here in Bihar. It is essential for the effective operation of a democracy that the public service commissions be staffed by individuals of the highest level of expertise and unquestionable integrity. This ensures that the appointments to various public posts are free from the influence of any extraneous factors, such as political pressure or personal favouritism, and are instead based solely on considerations of merit.

    Therefore, we implore you to raise your voice against this authoritarian rule-making body and its arbitrary and unreasonable process of selection in order to ensure that the future of candidates is not thwarted by the caprices and whims of those in power and ultimately ensure justice for the aggrieved candidates.

    Yours Sincerely

    A Victim of 31st Bihar Judiciary

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