Criticising the statement by BJP leader Chandan Mitra that the Bharat Ratna be taken back from Amartya Sen, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Saturday said this could not be done.
"It is a shocking comment. Is Bharat Ratna bestowed on someone as a favour? How can this be taken back?" Chatterjee told reporters in reply to a question in Kolkata.
"Everybody knows how much the recipient of the honour deserves it. It is conferred on him by the country, people of the country in appreciation," Chatterjee said on the sidelines of the discussion 'Judiciary, Ethics and Justice Delivery in India."
Asked to comment on just-concluded panchayat elections in West Bengal, Chatterjee said, "the only thing I can say is that I had wanted to vote in this panchayat polls. But I could not as the documents I had wanted to be transferred from here to my native place Birbhum showing my change of residence there were not ready as the dates approached."
"This perhaps indicates the state of affairs," he said.
Chatterjee, who recalled how he had to cut short his 40-year old judicial career at the behest of patriarch Jyoti Basu, said during the discussion that "judicial reforms have to be an ongoing process for effective justice delivery system."
"I quote what Nani Palkiwala had once said. Our cases drag on eternally ... judgement has to be right but no reason why it should be late," he said.
Justice Ashok Ganguly, a former Supreme Court judge, said the RTI Act "is a revolutionary step. Every citizen of this country has the right to know."
"And Right To Know is an important facet of Right To Speak. It shows democracy is maturing," he said.
"Integrity of the Act has to be preserved," Justice Ganguly said.
Justice Tarun Chatterjee, another former judge of the apex court, spoke about an alternative dispute redressal system.
"It is a process of early resolution and lok adalats have performed a crucial role," he said.
About the present-day situation in the country, Justice Ganguly said "those who have knowledge have little power and those who have power have little knowledge."