DR SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY needs no introduction. He was one of the founding members of the Janata Party which later merged with the BJP. He was a member of the Planning Commission and a cabinet minister in the Chandra Shekhar government. He was the driving force behind the 2G scam exposé which marked the downfall of the UPA-II government. He filed a complaint against the late TN CM J Jayalalithaa which led to her prosecution in the Disproportionate Assets case. However, his brilliance and gusto are overshadowed by his controversial remarks. In an interview with NAVANK SHEKHAR MISHRA, Swamy talks about pendency of cases, freedom of speech and the Gandhi family. Excerpts:
How did your political career begin?
I was a professor at Harvard but left it to come to India as a professor at IIT, at 28 years. I was a strong opponent of socialism and communism because both hinder the economic development of a country. Being a professor of economics, I published a paper called “Swadeshi Plan” which angered the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. After reading it, she alleged that it was a thesis on Hindu militant rights. I was removed from IIT on allegations that I was anti-nationalist. After this, I did not get a professorship anywhere in India. My wife, who was a professor of mathematics at IIT, was also removed. I went to court and after 22 years, I won the case and got my professorship back. I was a professor for only a day before I resigned. During this time, I became so famous that the RSS approached me and told me that a nationalist economist was needed for the welfare of the country. They invited me to work with them. And thus began my political career. In 1974, the organisation brought me to the Rajya Sabha. I gave a tough time to Indira Gandhi. In 1975, Indira Gandhi declared Emergency and I had to go underground.
Who is your inspiration?
I don’t have any one inspiration. I had many encounters with spiritual leaders whose words influenced me, including the Shankaracharya of Kanchi. I was the only one with whom he talked about politics and to whom he gave political advice. Also, when I entered politics, I became close to influential people like Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai. From the beginning, I have strongly supported Hinduism. My father was against the RSS. In fact, my family was a blind supporter of the Congress and the Gandhi family.
Don’t you think Hinduism opposes secularism?
Secularism says that every religion is equal. Hinduism reiterates the same thought, unlike other religions. Martin Luther King Jr said the State and the Church should be separated. He said that our society, culture, effort and faith are Christian but when it comes to building a government, we do not need the Bible. Hinduism says that everybody is above their caste. Our caste does not determine our profession or establish our rights on land. It is written in the Constitution that there should not be any cow slaughter. It says that there should be a uniform civil code.
What kind of reforms are needed in the judiciary?
Reforms are not needed. What is required is the successful implementation of laws. In the civil procedure court, if I file a case against you and I ask in writing to let me have access to some documents that prove my allegations against you, you are bound to give me the papers. This is called “discovery” in legal terms. For example, if you know that so and so was in London on so and so date, you can ask for his passport. This helps in the smooth execution of cases.
A new trend is emerging in the judiciary where it is also taking on the role of an executive as was evident in the NJAC case. What is your opinion?
Judges and lawyers appointed during my tenure as law minister did great work. I do not blame the judiciary. The judiciary has never done anything that is unconstitutional. It will never interfere in the work of an executive if it has been appointed legally. Later, PILs were filed that alleged that the government appointed unworthy and unqualified people. It was then decided that the judiciary would send names to the government for the NJAC. The problem can be solved by appointing three judges instead of two in the NJAC so that they have the majority. Let the judges select the candidates.
Pendency of cases has paralysed our judiciary. How can it be tackled?
About 400-500 judges should be appointed. We have almost 200 cases daily. Nearly 75 percent of the cases in Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court are by the government and government officials. An Enforcement Directorate official had made a money laundering case against P Chidambaram’s son Karti. When he lost the case in the Madras High Court, he went to the Supreme Court. It took him so many years that he lost faith in the judiciary.
After someone loses a case in the High Court, it should be closed unless it is a very important one. A judge should not take more than three months on a case. If it is too complicated like Jayalalithaa’s Disproportionate Assets case, the lawyer should come to court and state the reasons for the delay.
What is your opinion about freedom of speech and expression?
In 1951, Nehru said there should be some limitations on freedom of speech and that the court should decide it. But no one has the right to comment on partition of the country. What happened in JNU is totally unconstitutional. I do not support the way students while away their time on the streets. It is we who have given them such liberties.
India has gone through different phases of democracy from Indira Gandhi’s regime to the present one. What is that one incident of significance for you during this time?
People have become more aware about their rights now. They can now file Public Interest Litigations against powerful and influential people like the 2G case where the government itself was corrupt. This has brought back faith in the judiciary. People came to know that the law is for all. Otherwise people thought this whole system was only for the rich. I think law should be made compulsory in the school curriculum. People are living at the mercy of lawyers and not every lawyer is honest.
There are also some from the legal fraternity who support referendum and say that the military action against Burhan Wani was not justified. What is your take on that?
There is no place for referendum in our constitution.
People say that you are pursuing a vendetta against the Gandhi family?
These are false allegations. I don’t have any enmity with the Gandhi family. They wronged me, hence I went to court.
What do you think of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
He is a sincere person. He has been the PM for two-and-a-half years and no allegation of corruption has come up against him. People even pointed fingers at Jawaharlal Nehru. At a personal level, I have only praise for Modi.