From Admiral Ramdas, Former Chief of Naval Staff
To Whom It May Concern
So Why Am I filing a Writ Petition and PIL on the Judge Loya case? How and Why am I concerned?
- I have always been and remain a great believer in and follower of the Constitution of India which guarantees independence of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
- The Constitution guarantees every citizen various freedoms, including the freedom of speech, freedom to practice the religion of their choice, and Right to life.
- Several events in the years since Independence have been indelibly imprinted on my mind from the time that I witnessed at close quarters, the horrors of Partition as a young lad growing up in Delhi in the 1940s. To mention a few – the ruthless slaying and pogrom let lose against the Sikhs in 1984; the inexplicable destruction of places of worship including the Babri Masjid in 1992 , and the deliberate killing of large numbers of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. I continue to watch with mounting dismay, the current and continuous violations of basic human rights, attacks on minorities – especially Muslims and Dalits, and the systematic weakening and debilitation of all our established institutions, including the judiciary. As we celebrate the 68th anniversary of our Republic– each of these events listed above, represents a serious violation of the Constitution, for which I hold the Governments of the day accountable. It is certainly a time to take serious stock of where we have reached and how do we make the necessary course corrections before it is too late.
- I retired as Chief of the Naval Staff in 1993 after 45 years in the service of the Nation. I moved soon thereafter to live in a small village, Bhaimala, in rural Maharashtra. I have constantly and continuously maintained a critical position about these continuing attempts to undermine and weaken the Constitution and the Democratic framework of the country, and how these affect the most marginalised. I have never hesitated in expressing my views and my unhappiness at these developments in unequivocal terms. These have often taken the form of letters addressed to the topmost leadership in the country.
- These include one written in October 2015 to the then President and the Prime Minister – expressing my shock at the series of events taking place around the country; then one in 2017 to Shri Ram Nath Kovind jee, the Honorable President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, soon after his election, concerning the growing intolerance and deteriorating civil-military relations among other matters.
- The latest letter was written by me to the CJI and the CJ – Bombay High Court, written in November 2017, raising my concerns about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Loya , as outlined in the Caravan Magazine in Nov 2017. This was mainly to urge the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to constitute a high level Judicial Enquiry /SIT into the matter and to thus restore public confidence in the image of the judiciary and the highest court in the land – ie the Supreme Court.
- I have been motivated primarily by an abiding consciousness of my duties as a citizen of India and a proud member of our Armed Forces. I have always sought to communicate my views and disquiet on matters of state, directly to the leadership of our nation from time to time, or whenever, in my perception, we seem to be losing our way and moving away from the broad pathway or Dharma as laid down in the Constitution – which has always been my guiding light.
- So it is in this present case. I have already written expressing my strong discomfort at the series of disclosures and conflicting versions regarding Judge Loya’s sudden and untimely death. The recent Press conference by four of the senior-most Judges of the SC only confirmed my own fears that all was not well – and therefore this writ, as a Public interest Litigation, seeking the Courts Directive to set up a high-level judicial Enquiry under the direct monitoring of the SC. I am hoping that by so doing, I would add further weightage to the pleas already made , to inquire into this matter without further delay and further damage to our institutions.
- I am sharing my reasons for taking this action of seeking direction from the Highest Court in the land, primarily to allay possible allegations of vested interests that might have motivated me. I am 84 years old – and have been keeping indifferent health. I could just as well have kept silent and enjoyed my retirement. However, do I feel deeply that each of us has a duty and a responsibility to work towards realising the dream of building an open, tolerant, inclusive and diverse India – as envisioned in that great document -the Indian Constitution.
- My experience as a Lok Pal. It was this belief that led me to accept the responsibility of the role of Lok Pal of the Aam Aadmi Party from its inception till I was no longer required ! In keeping with my principled notion that such a role required complete and uncompromising objectivity and non partisan functioning, I never became a member of AAP or any other political party.
- I have never held a post-retirement paid post – either in Government nor in any private for-profit entity. I live primarily on my pension and interest on my few savings – and this has enabled me to play the role of an independent voice and critic without any fear or favour. Born in Mumbai; domiciled in Maharashtra; I am perhaps one of the few retired Former Chiefs who continues to live on the land allotted to me for my gallantry award of Vir Chakra after the 1971 operations.
- My wife and I have cultivated what was banjar land, and we continue to learn about organic farming and the struggles of our rural and farming community – the greatest education we could have had. For nearly twenty five years, we have worked with local communities and children in a number of educational activities ; have led struggles against take over of irrigated farmlands. We have both been deeply involved with work for Peace – in our region, especially with Pakistan, and for a Nuclear-free India, a Nuclear-free Asia and Nuclear Free World.
Laxminarayan [Ramu] Ramdas
(Admiral Ramdas filed a petition in the Supreme Court on January 30, 2018, asking the Supreme Court to investigate the death of Judge Loya and the circumstances around it)