Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Supremely Courting Disaster at Koodankulam

In a bizarre, but not so recent development, India's Supreme Court has taken to ruling on cases, based not on applications of laws, nor readdressing of petitions or pleas, but via self-appointed mandates and grandiose generalities that pertain little to law and less to justice.  
It is an attempt by the court to act supreme without bothering with any inconvenient truths or harsh realities.

I am referring to the Supreme Court's justifying the hanging of Afzal Guru for "satisfying the collective conscience of the nation", or the recent SC approval of the Koodankulam nuclear plant (KKNPP), since "a balance has to be struck between the right to life and sustainable development". 

The Koodankulam ruling was based, not on the legitimate and serious safety concerns, which STILL remain, but on Court's perception of national developmental goals vis-a-vis constitutionally sacred, right to life of all - including the predominantly marginalised communities in the neighborhood of the plant. The court took this untenable position without realising that the very notion of development and how this nation should go about it, is not part of this or any other Court's mandate - whereas right to life is. Unashamed and non-apologetic the Supreme Court ruled that this right-to-life could be compromised, since the nation's need for energy is greater.  It bought the rhetoric of the nuclear establishment without demanding rigorous compliance of safety standards, and  in a direct conflict of interest,  delegated the assurance of the plant's safety to the very same authorities charged with commissioning the plant and who have been crying themselves hoarse " All is Well" - despite allegations of complicity  in a series of omissions, violations and compromises for a hasty commissioning.  

Instead of a soppy “Nobody on the earth can predict what would happen in future and to a larger extent we have to leave it to the destiny…", the supreme court could have made history if it had realised that while  destiny is not in man's hand,  uncompromising attention and rigor in implementation of safety standards is - and this needs to be assured, independently, before operation of any giant, complex technology which is potentially very risky to humans and environment.

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