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Vallabh Bhanshali: 
Good morning friends and welcome to the second edition of Truth Talks.  Welcome Justice Srikrishna, anchor for the day, Somasekhar Sundaresan, Dr. Jitendra Shah, a great scholar and co-founder of Satya Vigyan Foundation, friends and lovers of Truth Talks.  

TRUTHtalks is indeed a bold and delicate experiment.  For several messages of encouragement and appreciation that I would see, I do receive occasional ones intent at its hypocrisy, its pretentiousness and so on.  They think of it as suiting others.  So be it. 
TRUTHtalks’ objective is that if we cannot become fully truthful to the society, we can certainly become more truthful even if by a few notches!  Our wide success will lie in wide recognition that when our fame, power, & wealth are overshadowed by any kind of falsehood, they do not produce benefits that we hope they do.  It is only when they are accompanied by the attitude of truthfulness, honesty, transparency and integrity, that we can hope to receive that full benefits, trust of others, peace within and respect for people at large. 

What can be an easier and a simpler path than to listen to and learn from the masters who have experimented the truth throughout their life, facing situations more complex than most of us can ever imagine and yet cultivating the attitude of truthfulness!
If we can do that, by and by, we can rebuild our society. 
You would agree with me that our society is not rated the highest when it comes to the speed at which we can enter into contracts and assurance of fulfilling them; and I am talking of contracts in the widest possible sense, from social to formal and what not! And don’t you also think that contributes majorly to the fact that despite being one of the greatest civilizations on earth, and probably the only live old civilization, we continue to be on very low rankings in global terms.

[00:02:36]   {Acknowledgment of the objective & introduction of the speaker & the Anchor}
It is a small effort of Satya Vigyan Foundation to draw your attention with significant benefits of truthfulness ranging from peace within to prosperity within the society.  I am extremely grateful on behalf of Satya Vigyan Foundation and I welcome you, Justice, again to have with us, the legendary & scholarly jurist par excellence, polyglot; the man our republic has turned to again and again to unravel the truth in complex situations and policy matters – Justice Srikrishna. And to get the best out of his vast experience and knowledge, we have the anchor for the day today Somasekhar Sundaresan
“Som”, as he is popularly known, he started his career as a journalist and continues to write the very popular column, is now a distinguished lawyer known for his very sharp analysis, integrity, desire to give back to community, spirituality and all this at a rather young age.

[00:03:44]   {Handover to the anchor to formally commence the event}
Over to you Som, to introduce our guest formally and to conduct the rest of the event.  Thank you very much.
Somasekhar Sundaresan takes over. He begins by expressing his immense gratitude & humility towards Satya Vigyan foundation for giving him this prestigious opportunity to have a word with Hon’ble Justice B.N Srikrishna & introduces the speaker & some of his commendable professional endeavours to the audience.
He also shares how he got the privilege to get acquainted to Justice Srikrishna & hopes that Justice Srikrishna throws some light on those anecdotes in the due course of the conversation.


[00:03:55]   {Somasekhar Sundaresan takes over the charge of event}

Somasekhar Sundaresan:
Thank you, Vallabh.  When you asked me to do this function, I felt a wave of gratitude because frankly, this is a conversation that is very timely and to have a conversation with Justice Srikrishna about it is something that anyone else, who is perhaps in a better position than me, would have loved to do. 
So, I am grateful that I got the opportunity to have this conversation on behalf of the foundation.  Justice Srikrishna, for those of you who have not looked him up on the net or not been aware, is somebody who has had a very spectacular run with the discovery of truth, be it as a lawyer, be it as a judge. With a long, distinguished career in the Bombay High Court, then as a Chief Justice in the Kerala High Court and then on to the Supreme Court, he has rendered a number of judgments and today we are going to talk about how some of those would give us a perspective in this conversation about truth. 
Justice Srikrishna has also played a significant role in law-making, recommendatory law-making where I had an opportunity to work under his guidance in the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission and then, of course, more recently in the Data Privacy Law, topics on which he has been quite candid and vocal and transparent about.  I hope sir to pepper our conversation today with anecdotes and examples from his spectacular career and more importantly, from you as a human being and as a spiritual pole star for many who seem to emulate you, sir. 

[00:05:56]   {Somasekhar Sundaresan initiates the conversation with Justice Srikrishna by inviting him to express his views on the meaning of truth}
So, with that, may I start the conversation with perhaps inviting you to express your thoughts on what exactly does truth mean to you, what is truth, what is it not.  I thought let us begin there!
Justice B.N Srikrishna beautifully answers this question by quoting the perception of various Indian & Russian philosophers. According to Justice Srikrishna, Truth is an enigma that has baffled the philosophers, and thus, different philosophers or different people have their own ways of perceiving it.
He also explains it as an entity which is constant over the change of time & space. He explains how truth holds its significance only up to a certain time, place or context!

[00:06:15]   {Justice Srikrishna starts to answer Somasekhar Sundaresan’s question}


Justice Srikrishna:
You have raised a fundamental question which has baffled philosophers for ages. Now, this question, let me be frank. I will talk purely from the standpoint of the Indian philosophers. I will not dabble too much into the way the westerners are looking into it because I have my own reservation from that.  

[00:06:44]   {Justice Srikrishna recites a postulate from the ancient Indian scriptures & elaborates how the ancient Indian philosophers described the phenomenon of truth}
Talking about the philosophical point of view, truth is something… Frankly, where did Indian philosophy begin? Indian philosophy began from the Shruti, the Vedas. How do the Shrutis define that, “evā Satyam maghavānāthat” is the postulate. 
It says, “If it is truth, it is going to be unchanged.”  Unchanged over what? Unchanged over a period of time. Now whether it is past, present or future, it should remain constant.  

[00:07:15]   {Justice Srikrishna explains how the human mind & body is in different states at different instances & how the meaning of truth changes with the transition of state. He also cites the philosophy of a Russian philosopher that throws light on the fact that not only the human beings, but also the world around him undergoes constant change.}
Again, with regard to what they say, your status…Now the human being is either grateful or having a dream or having what you call in scientific terms REM sleep or deep sleep.  
Now what you see around you is true to you because you are able to see it, receive it and visualize it. What you see in your dream, is basically a modified visualisation of it on to your mind. Your sensory organs are at rest, you do not hear anything and I may dream and I may feel that I am the King of England and the Chief Justice is coming to offer me something on a platter or I am the King of Saudi Arabia, everything is possible in your dream.  
Now the next is, I may be in a state where I am totally bereft of this dream sensation also, absolute REM sleep, as we call it in modern terms. At that time, I am neither in the wakeful world nor in the dream world, but a sense of absolute stillness. I will say nothing prevails at that time, but what is it that persists in all these stages. You as the perceiver, you as the perceivers start with it, second stage, third stage.
So, our philosopher said, “hey look if you look at the world as such, the world keeps changing. In western philosophy, I think it was Rene Descartes who said that the world changes so much that you cannot cross the river twice because he said when you cross the river once, by the time you try to cross it back, the atoms or molecules of water have flown away. So, it is not the same river! 
Then came, Heraclitus, who was smarter and he said you cannot cross it even once because the moment you step into the water, it is flowing away. So, everything keeps changing.  

[00:09:21]   {Justice Srikrishna takes reference of the concept of “Brahma” to explain that amidst the perpetually changing universe, there is an entity that remains steadfast & constant}
So, if everything keeps changing, there must be some entity, which remains solid.  So, our philosophers identified it and called it Brahma. Give any definition or name it does not make any difference. So, there is an entity that is steadfast and that does not move and that does not change. Everything else changes and now when you talk of truth, what are we saying. 
For example, if I tell you that this is black. Now, I will say it is true, it is black. Now, who knows if I keep it in the sun for a long time, it may become grey, it may become white also, and ultimately it may lose its shine. Therefore, do I say that the statement that I made that it is black is false, untrue?  
Therefore, when it comes to validation of truth it is relatively time. That means I can only say at this point of time, this thing appears to be black to me, and that is true. But if I were to make a bold statement and say, for other times without change it is going to be black… Who knows after 100 years, you will not be there, I will not be there. Probably you will be there, I will not be there and this itself may not be there. Therefore, all statements typical to truth have to be hedged in by this concept of the time element. 

[00:10:46]  {Justice Srikrishna now moves to elaborate the meaning of truth with regards to Social interactions & contracts}
Now one more thing that needs to be accepted. 
When we talk of truth, are we talking of this kind of truth, when we talk of truth in a societal organized? 
Now, I heard Mr Vallabh Bhansali talk about contracts, social interactions, and what we call in Sanskrit as vyavahar or lok vyavahar. So, for that purpose, are we talking of truth in that sense?
If you remember, as a student for international law you will remember that there were 2 fundamental principles that were advocated in international law. One principle “Pacta sunt servanda that means all pacts, all agreements must be honoured. Again, there is another principle saying that “Rebus sic stantibus” that only as long as the circumstances remain the same. Therefore, in an international transaction or societal transaction, what you want to do is something different what we understand as truth in an absolute sense. 
So, when I go to… let us say I am going to purchase a book. 
Now that book might be good for today. But tomorrow if somebody comes out with a theory and attacks it, it’s value will be 0! 
As a journalist, you will understand what is the value of a newspaper. It is only good when it comes at breakfast and by tomorrow morning, its value is going to be raddi (trash) and nothing else.  Isn’t it true to say that therefore it is quite true? 


[00:12:36]   {Justice Srikrishna now speaks about the actual meaning of the word “truth”. He delineates the dimensions in which the meaning of “Satya” can be perceived, by citing verses from the Bhagavad Gita. He also takes two examples to contemplate the functionality of truth.}
The interesting thing is the English word true is a little difficult to reiterate only because that concept of truth is something different. Now, what is the word that we use? If you remember Mahatma Gandhi advocated it and said “Satya and Ahimsa” if you remember Satya was the word.  Satya has an element of “sat” in that. What does the word sat mean? The Bhagavad Gita uses a beautiful definition in chapter 7 verse 26 “sad-bhave sadhu-bhave cha, sad ity etat prayujyate, prasaste karmani tatha, sac-chabdah Partha yujyate”.  It means that “sat” is used in 2 senses, in one sense of existence and in another sense of goodness.  
So, which is the one that you want to use is the idea? So, when you say something is true, do you mean you are talking in terms of absolute truth or are you talking in terms of this is good for society?
Therefore, you have to start with the definition understanding for what purpose you are making the definition, it is an absolutely functional definition. Now I will give you 2 examples. Of course, these are not examples from my life, these are all cited in the Mahabharata. For example, I assume that I am an honest, upright citizen of this democratic country and a law-abiding citizen, who stands by the rule of law. 
Now, I am walking down the street and I see a thief running who is being chased by the police. I see the thief going and hiding behind a particular corner or tree or something and the police come and ask me and say “did you see a thief run, where did he go”? So as my duty of a citizen, as a sworn duty as a democratic citizen of this democracy and with a view to ensure that the thief has got punished for the benefit of all, I have to tell the truth and tell him and say, “Hey look, that fellow is standing there. Go and arrest him”.  
Take another converse case. I am walking down the street and there is this young girl who is being chased by a gang of hooligans. Probably they want to molest her, rape her whatever… She may run and she goes and hides behind a mall or something and then they come to me and ask me, should I tell them the truth, honest truth and say that she is sitting there right behind that wall and allow her to be raped?? Or does it require me to say, I don’t know or point in the opposite direction and say she has gone, run that way. 
Therefore, this is where exactly the functionality of truth comes into. Am I trying to talk in terms of the truth as an entity that is envisaged in the Upanishad as Brahman or am I about to talk in terms of truth or sat as envisaged, “sad-bhave sadhu-bhave”? Is it good for society that has to be testified? Now, this is again a very difficult question. It is easier to question, but you should get to answer honestly.  

[00:16:01]   {Having said that Truth is something which is good for the society, Justice Srikrishna now emphasizes on the perceiving the meaning of “Good for society” through different theories & notions.}
Now what is good for society is again and…ultimately another principle that is adopted by Jerry Bentham saying the greatest group of the largest number. But does it really solve the purpose? Because, it depends on the assumption in Jerry Bentham’s proposition is that all people are confident of this principle and are honest.  
Now, what if you happen to get thrown into a society of dishonest persons, whose greater number is not going to do good to society, but on the other hand do harm to the society. Therefore, the fundamental requisite is that in order to be guided by this principle of the greatest good for the largest number, the assumption is that everyone has similar thinking, everyone has this kind of idea rooted in his or her mind and everyone is honest and truthful. So, this is some kind of a psyche circular arguments that you cannot discover truth unless you are truthful and unless you are truthful, you will not be able to discover the truth.  
That is the dilemma that the society poses to us, that is a dilemma that needs to be somewhere reckoned. Now, in a democracy, there is always bound to be tension between two conflicts. As a judge, I have seen this happening every day. As a lawyer I have seen it happen every day. Now take, for example, let us say that there is a country. 

[00:17:35]   {Now, Justice Srikrishna contradicts the theory of Jerry Bentham by quoting a hypothetical example of the Indian Society}
Let us say it is a country democratically run with a rule of law and there is parliamentary democracy there also and overwhelmingly by unanimous vote, parliament decides that people of a particular division only will be entitled to it. Take for example our country, why should I move somewhere else… 
If tomorrow parliament decides that non-Hindus should be taxed disproportionately like Aurangzeb used to do it the jizya and Hindus would be given a concession in the tax rate. 
Parliamentary democracy numbers have voted, let us say it is a completely unanimous vote. So as the rule of law, it would be applicable to us, but then the test is, is that the truth? Now here the truth does not mean in terms of proposition and the proposition of law it is true. Parliament votes unanimously. Therefore, it is true. Therefore, it is binding on me. But then what do we do? 
We test it on the angle of something that we hold higher namely the constitutional validity, fundamental principles and most of the fundamental principles are also human rights.  This in the end is the test by which it is to be done in every life in a practical test that has been postulated in the Padma Purana. That is why our people did not talk straightaway like Gandhi did and said. 

[00:19:21]   {Now, Justice Srikrishna proposes his thoughts on the Gandhian Philosophy of describing dharma as a structure entailed of only 2-3 elements- Satya, Ahimsa, Bramharcharya}
What Gandhi did was, I mean, I have great respect for Mahatma Gandhi… he is the great man India got! But there is a little difficulty in his thinking, which I am unable to accept. See, dharma is a concept which involves various principles. He just picked out 2, or 3, Satya, Ahimsa and Brahmacharya and propagated it to be equivalent to dharma! No, it is not.  
Now the whole comprises of several parts, but the part is not equivalent to the whole. Satya is an aspect of dharma.  So ultimately what is it that you would need to do, you have to establish dharma. 
Otherwise, how will I explain why the Bhagavad Gita, by which Mahatma Gandhi swore, does not talk about ahimsa at all. Is there anybody who will get up and say Bhagavad Gita teaches you ahimsa? 

[00:20:12]   {He supports his theories & notions by seeking & stating verses & references from Mahabharata & Shrimad Bhagavad Gita}
From chapter 1 to chapter 18, what it teaches him is you are just doing your karma, go ahead and fight. 
In fact, Krishna extols yadṛcchaya copapannam svarga-dvaaram apavrtam sukhinah ksatriyah partha, labhante yuddham idrsam. hato va prapsyasi swargam jitva va bhokshyase mahim, tasmad uttishtha kaunteya yuddhaya krita-nishchayah.
He said if you are killed, you will go to heaven, if you win you will be the king. So, therefore, why don’t you go and fight. He never talked about ahimsa even in one shloka anywhere in this entire 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita. Why do we swear by this? 
In fact, Krishna is very… I have said in my public lectures that Krishna is like an astute advocate. He knows exactly how to use the principle, but for an ultimate purpose. Now if you look at Mahabharata, what is it that we see, various events where Krishna is apparently seen to compromise a truth. Taken that Ashwathama incident, Ashwathama Kunjaraha. What did he do? The Pandavas found that it was impossible to kill Drona and overcome because Drona was a man of greatest warrior qualities. 
So, they conspired to do something and say, he has great attachment for his son Ashwathama. Therefore, if someone tells him that Ashwathama has died, he will immediately throw down his bow and arrow and will be struck by sorrow. 
It is easier to kill him at that time, but Drona was also a very sensible man. He would not accept such a statement from anybody, whose integrity is suspected. Therefore, they persuade Yudhishthira to say and Yudhishthira said, “I will not make and utter falsehood”, which is untrue to my knowledge. That is when they said no, we will kill one particular elephant called Ashwathama. So, you state loudly and say Ashwathama Kunjaraha that means the elephant named Ashwathama has been killed.
Now here comes the role of Krishna, Krishna is smart!  So, then he waits, till he finishes the sentence Ashwathama Hatha and when he comes to Kunjaraha he uses his shankha (conch) to drown the last few words. So, Drona takes it as a statement coming from Yudhishthira as gospel truth and he says, I am not fighting and then he gets killed etc.
Now the question here is…was it a compromise on truth or not.  Everybody, would say of course it is, but then if it is a compromise it is a compromise for what purpose, for a larger purpose of protecting dharma.  That is the interesting thing there.  So everywhere in the Mahabharata you find examples like this.  The great thing about Mahabharata is that it reflects human behaviour.

[00:23:27]   {Justice Srikrishna highlights the contrasting difference in the themes of Ramayana & Mahabharata, that bring out Truth& Idealness as two vividly different concepts.}
It reflects human thinking, unlike Ramayana idealises one character. Rama is there, and he is an ideal. That, as we say in Mathematics, you tend to infinity, but you will never reach infinity. Even when you tend to be the ideal, but one knows that it will not be possible to become the ideal.  So ultimately, the question is, “What is the purpose for which you are using the truth?” If it is being used for the purpose of the good of the society, then truth is relative. We all accept the truth is relative. “Nobody can say truth is absolute nonsense if it is the truth.”, as Vyavaharika tells. That is the definition, somewhat complicated, somewhat elongated and somewhat let me accept a confusing definition of truth.

[00:24:17]   {Somasekhar Sundaresan elongates on the Vyavaharika reference that was used by Justice Srikrishna & asks him his notions about situations where the battle is not between truth & false, but between competing forms of truth. Wherein each party has a justified perception of dharma in their favour}


Somasekhar Sundaresan:
To push this a little further. In the Vyavaharika space, every person believes in his own sovereign right that he stands for what is dharma. So, I have seen people justify to themselves that their cause is a just cause, which is why they knock the doors in a legal conflict of a court as well. 
So, each side resolutely believes that it stands for dharma. Of course, there are perjurers, there are those who lie on oaths. We are not talking about those and sometimes there are these competing truths that come before the court.  
So, you as a judge, of course, had the benefit of dealing with the dispute in the context of a legislation, if any, or at least in the context of relief sought by the parties and that would be a broad framework within which you could determine what your view of the truth in that case was. But when it comes to say, legislating, there can be compelling competing truths that need to be counterbalanced, in a fine way. And just as no judgment will leave all sides happy, no law can leave all members of society happy because it does have to compromise, it does have to adjust competing considerations.  
Sir, what would be your guiding principle to see what is this dharma because I have often seen clients also who may have been completely caught in the wrong. When it comes to the rule of law, they resolutely would believe that it stands for cause of dharma. How do we reconcile that?
Justice Srikrishna answers this question of Somasekhar by elucidating the fact the “Dharma is bigger than how an individual perceives it”. He explains that everyone’s perception of Dharma is different because it is governed by “Self-interest” & thus, everyone’s perception digresses from the actual meaning of Dharma. He also attempts to explain the meaning of dharma by citing the simple principle of Padma Purana that says whatever is bad for you, don’t do it to others.  


Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
First of all, dharma is not determined by individual thinking. Let us be honest about it. Again, the interesting thing about Bhagavad Gita is as a lawyer you must have seen, as a judge, you must have seen it is kept in one witness box, a tattered book which contains half the number of pages is missing with full of dust. Everybody puts his hand on that and says I will swear on this and I will say the truth and blah blah. Nobody, not even the witnesses, not even the judge sitting in the court would have ever opened it and seen what it contains. 
In fact, I must tell you between you and me I had an occasion to talk to one of the subordinate court judges and he was telling me that he was not able to get a copy of Bhagavad Gita. So, he used his personal diary and wrapped it nicely in a piece of paper and kept it in the witness box. So, everybody would share on his personal diary and share it to reveal the truth. 
So ultimately, what did the Bhagavad Gita tell you, “tasmat chastram pramanam te, karyakarya vyavasthitau”.  In order to determine whether something is good or not, you have to go by the rule what is ordained by the shastra, not your insight, your individual thinking.  Otherwise, individual thinking. Don’t forget it, unless you are an enlightened person or a saint, it is always covered by self-interest.  

[00:27:31]   {With the help of few simple situations & instances, Justice Srikrishna elaborates on how the meaning of Dharma can be over ruled by a bias, that arises on the virtue of self-interest of human-beings}
Now if somebody comes to me and says in this dispute between you and somebody else, I will always say I am right! Or somebody comes and tells me, in this dispute between Som and XYZ, who do you think is right? And I will say Som, of course, because Som is my friend.  
See that is the immediate attachment that you have to the cause, to yourself and to anything that you consider as a projection of yourself. So that is why it is difficult to determine where the principle really lies. Therefore, you have to go back to the shastra and say what does the shastra tell you. Now, what does the shastra tell you here is… That is what I was telling you, the principle that Padma Purana told us is very simple and, in fact, he does not involve too many complications.

[00:28:10]   {Justice Srikrishna recites a principle from the Padma Purana & explains a different logic of contemplating the meaning of Dharma}
It says, “shrooyataan dharm sarvasvan shrutva chaapyavadhaaryataam . aatmanah pratikoolaani pareshaan na samaacharet.”  
It is a very simple principle. It says, “Hey, listen to the essence of what is dharma and having listened to it, keep it strongly in your mind. What is the principle, whatever is bad for you, don’t do it to others.  
Now, somebody stealing my property is bad for me. So, I should not go around stealing property. Somebody killing me is bad for me, therefore I should not kill. When somebody is doing violence to me, whether physically or by words is bad for me. Therefore, I should not do it.  
This is the fundamental principle that has been accepted. If you accept this and test, let us say somebody comes to you and says this is burglary being done, then how do you test where the real is. See, as a judge, the problem is not…one of very few problems really for a moral dilemma. 
It is simply a question of deciding on the basis of law, as it stands. Where the issue should be sorted out, trying to tilt towards…a tilt little towards basic what you have learnt as moral principles or ethical principles.
Now, I would like to give an example, let us say you are travelling by car on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, there are 4 or 5 lanes on each side that keeps a little bit of elbow room. As a more experienced car driver you will see that to go from one lane to another depending on where you want to go, but on both sides, you can jump the barrier and go. If you jump the barrier and go, you will kill yourself and kill everybody else, but within those 4 lines, carefully if you navigate yourself, you will be able to reach your goal safely. This is exactly what happens in a legal situation. As a judge, I have the boundary created by the law.

[00:30:18]   {Justice Srikrishna explains that the path of righteousness cannot be a set route. Given some situations, pardoning the wrongdoer is the right thig to do. He delineates his argument from a legal point of view.}
Now let us take a very simple situation. Law says, any person who is guilty of theft should be punished, but the law gives me some kind of leeway.
It says that the punishment can be pardoned from these to these people given mean. That is where I can use my discretion as a judge and say, “Hey, what is this case of? Is it the case of a poor woman, hungry for 10 days, her child is hungry for 10 days, and who steals a loaf of bread? Or is it the case of a super-rich crook, who has picked into somebody’s pocket because he cannot be less than greedy as far as his pocket is concerned?”. There you have the choice!
That is subject to the law because, in both bounds, I cannot acquit him if I find him really guilty of an offence. Unless, of course, there are cases where you have minimum statutory offences, that where those are involved and it is a little bit more complicated issue.
But if a person is guilty, he will not come up into the court and say, the person is not guilty. The person may say he is guilty. Therefore, I will charge him Re. 1 or I will charge him 1 paisa or I will make him sit in the court and look at me one on one or as some of the progressive agendas are done, I will make that person go into social service, go and plant 100 plants or water 100 plants or something of that sort. But there, basically, the modulation would be of the punishment, not of the guilt or the offence itself.

[00:32:00]   {Now, having discussed about the distinctive difference between Satya & Dharma, Justice Srikrishna made it vividly clear that the grade-mark of righteousness is the agreement of a deed to the meaning of “Dharma”. However, he brings up certain situations in which the very protocol of the rights (which were enforced to establish Dharma) get changed. He speaks of various instances like the Puttuswamy case, or demonetisation, war & curfew times, or the more recent & unprecedented event of the COVID 19 Pandemic to support his notions}.


Now you have that situation, let us say…of I don’t know my moral dilemma can present itself with various methods. I gave you 2 examples. If a person knows something is being done, which is contrary to all accepted human values. Now these human values, now as far as a judge is concerned, the issue is very simple.
You were talking of legislation.
Now if the legislation is contrary to the accepted fundamental rights, then article 13 of the constitution gives the right to a judge of a superior court to strike it down on the ground that it is violative of a fundamental right. Now the real dilemma is not in that.
The dilemma is in as a lawyer you will realize that article 19(1) enumerates a whole lot of fundamental rights. At the same time, 19(2) says that in case of these specified cases, it is permissible for the state to increase the fundamental right in article 1 in the manner that is indicated. There will be a dilemma that reiterates.  

[00:33:21]   {Justice Srikrishna explains his notions with the help of some examples from the Indian Societal Conditions like the COVID Pandemic & nationwide lockdown, the demonetisation, & the Puttuswamy case among others}
Now, it may be in the interest of the state to state, take for example the COVID situation today. The government wants to say because of health reasons, I am going to say that nobody will have a right to do this, that and the other. How far is it permissible, how far is it not permissible is what will become a matter of judgement. Now that is where the skill of a judge arises, that is where the skill of the neutral arbitrator arises.  For example, yes there is a lockdown. Therefore, is the lockdown justified or not. Fortunately, nobody tested it in a court of law, otherwise, questions would have been raised as what did the lockdown achieve, what were the consequence of a lockdown, did it do more good to the people or did it do more harm to the people.  
Anything, take for example the great announcement that was made by the government suddenly for demonetization. Was the demonetization stated to be for purpose X, Y and Z. Now all the topmost economists have told that none of the purposes was ever fulfilled. Now, who knows if it had been challenged in a court of law. Somebody might have asked this question and said, “Hey, this is an action of the executive, it infringes the fundamental rights.” And the principle is that the fundamental rights can be infringed, then the infringement is testified on the basis of the doctrine of proportionality; that you can use a fly swatter for killing a mosquito, but you cannot do an atom bomb. That is the principle! That is where the dilemma is thought to be resolved. 
Take, for example, anything that you come normally across. 
Now freedom of speech is a great exulted issue in democracy. It is an exulted fundamental right. But then, should there be a curb on freedom of speech actually grappling with that issue in some of the matters? Should there be a situation where the freedom of speech of the media to be curbed? 
Don’t forget one thing, why is it necessary to guarantee fundamental freedom, fundamental rights and then conversely also say no you should be able to curb them to some extent.  Guaranteed because it is an inherent requisite of human dignity, and also because of the fact that we are subscribed to the charter.  The restrictions are needed because it is needed in order to ensure that you and I are able to effectively use our fundamental rights. Therefore, it is really a situation of one individual’s fundamental right against what is going to happen to the rest of the people in the society.  
That is the reason if you remember in the famous Puttaswamy’s case also, the Supreme Court formulated the principle and said, yes, it is necessary to enable the government to access the data of individuals without consent because that would be an essential requisite of protecting the rights of the citizens at large.
Take a simple case. During wartime, all kinds of restrictions were put on the fundamental rights. Why they were put on fundamental rights because the entire country needs the to be protected. Otherwise, if you say, “No, I have got fundamental right of the constitution. Therefore, this law should not be made applicable to me or it will be devoid under article 13.” What happens to the rest of the country? If you go around talking or if you go around doing something that will cause some kind of an adverse effect on the activity of the country, the rest of the population will suffer. The rest of the people will suffer the erosion of their fundamental rights. 

[00:38:04]   {To infer a learning from all the above examples, to justify the violation of rights to ascertain the wellbeing of the society & to make people understand the alignment of the purpose of every task with the meaning of Dharma, justice Srikrishna takes a reference of the Jeremy Bentham’s principle}
That is the reason why then you use this question of what is it that is going to be achieved.  That is why I started by saying, “what is the dharma in the issue that you have to take care of all the time”? Dharma principle as I told you, somewhat akin to this Jeremy Bentham’s principle.
Except that, here there was a touchstone on which you tested, whether it was good or bad. The test is, is it good for everybody or is it bad for everybody?  If it is good for everybody, do it. If it is bad for everybody, stop that and say this is not good.

[00:38:51]   {Somasekhar now shifts the dimension of the discussion towards a business or a corporate perspective, wherein the accuracy of financial statements prepared by an auditor are scalable on their truth &fairness, neither of which can be evitable However, there is an element of plasticity in the management level hierarchy of the firms that gives rise to scandals.
So, do we infer that this element of plasticity makes it convenient to bend the truth & fairness to meet personal ends.}


Somasekhar Sundaresan:  
Trying to move a bit to the business and the corporate side. We have a bunch of corporate sector and financial sector people in our audience today. Accounting standards and auditing standards…when an auditor expresses an opinion on the accuracy of financial statements, what effectively signs off is that they represent a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company.  
Now this phrase “true” and “fair” suggests that we need both and not just one. What may be true may not be a fair depiction and what may be a fair depiction need not be a truthful depiction. And therefore, this is sort of a true and fair view concept as it has been brought in, which resonates with some of what you had said. 
So why, unlike in a judicial legal dispute, this is more about business as normal as a growing concern and you are depicting whether the statements represent a true and fair view. Now, while this gives a reasonable play in the joints and gives one the ability to talk about the appropriate manner of depicting the state of affairs of a company, most of the accounting scandals that we have seen over time have found their roots in the management calls and justifications that the accounting standards enable.  
For example, even in Enron, the Securities Exchange Commission enabled companies to recognize future income on a power purchase agreement, which is over a long period of time, and give value to it today and recognize it as income. So therein, began the problem of collapse. 
So again, sir, I know this can be a little circular, but when we look at fairness and bring in the element of plasticity, do we somehow bring in an element of ends justifying means and that turning into a slippery slope.

[00:41:12]   {Justice Srikrishna explains the corporate notions of truth & accountability by delineating different perspectives of the dilemma between the organisational objectives & the corporate social responsibilities.}
Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
If you are talking of the corporate world, let us ask a simple question. 
What is the philosophy of the persons in charge of the corporation with regard to the objective of the corporation? 
If their philosophy is maximum value to the shareholders, so dividend should be increased, their point of view would be something different. Their perspective also would be totally different. But if their perspective is that this is in order to do good for the society, which has the practice to do all kind of business like this, then there would not be any difficulty.
So, of course this complicated issue of whether future income should be recognized today or not, I am leaving it aside for the accountants to debate. Originally, it was thought that the only thing that the corporate governance required was the dividends and the share value should increase. That was their only objective. Today, do we recognize that? Do we recognize that is the only objective? They say no.  
If that is the only objective, is it that we come across situations of environmental protection, why is it that we deal with corporate social responsibility.  Therefore, even for corporates, the same issue. Now, let us say you are manufacturing some kind of gas, which is deleterious to general health. Now, there is lots of demand for that because it is industrially useful.  
Now, while doing it, what is it that you are required to do while manufacturing it? Are you really allowing it to escape into the atmosphere, are you really protecting the neighbourhood, the rest of the populace in ensuring that it is not exposed to its deleterious effects? While, if you do that, are you going to suffer profits? Therefore, it made you rather fine with it.  
Take, for example, car manufacturers. What happens to this Bharat Standard Euro 1, Euro 2… and all this pollution control standards? Are they really manufacturing it? No, they are not manufacturing it. 
What happened in the case of the famous German manufacturer with regard to what they call the cheat mechanism?  The cost increases, if your environmental control provision is stringent and more stringent. Therefore, if the cost increases, then that causes deprivation of shared value. But increased protection of the environment gives a larger benefit to the population, to the citizens. So, therefore, do you value the lives and the health of citizens or do you value the money that people in charge of it are going to be given to.  
Again, to the citizen also, this is the question.  When I invest money in a company, am I expecting that money should grow, multiply never mind, what happens to the rest of the country or money alone with guaranteed security of my health and my longevity?  Now, this is the dilemma of every country which wants to progress.  
Progress inevitably requires some kind of deprivation of natural resources. Therefore, where do you draw the line? This is exactly what courts have been grappling with all over the country in the developed world, developing world and underdeveloped countries. This is exactly the point.  Progress versus deprivation of the natural resources.  
So, deprivation of the natural resources has a long-term deleterious effect on the populace. Whereas progress requires I must build a dam, I must build a factory, I must produce more steel, I must produce more chemicals, more fertilizers, manufacture more nuclear bombs, have more nuclear thermal stations. So where do you draw the distinction? Each one is inversely proportioned to the other. Therefore, you have to make sure that what they normally call the Zero-Sum Game, that is, you neither gain deprivation nor lose progress.  
Even take a very elementary thing. Today, it is undoubtedly true that travelling by plane is a risk. I don’t know statistically, but it has worked out. But planes are crashing despite the best plane manufacturers. During my grandfather’s or great-grandfather’s time, people either walked from place to pace or went by bullock carts. The safest method really was walking, a little more safe…a little less safe, but a little more convenient was bullock cart. 
A bullock cart is a very safe method of going and it is one way of looking at it. Are we in a position to say let us all go back to bullock carts, stop manufacturing automobiles, stop manufacturing or importing planes? Is it feasible? Therefore, you have 2 principles which are conflicting. One is what we require in the modern world, which goes by the term progress now, that is another debatable issue. For the time being, I will keep it aside.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:
Let us call it to progress as against environmental degradation. 
Now, these are 2 issues which are conflicting. Therefore, once you have expanded one, the other one decreases. Conversely, the other one increases, this one decreases. 
Therefore, where do you maintain the balance depends on your viewpoint always. Now, if I am saying note to me the health of the citizens is more interesting. 
I am more interested in the citizens’ health rather than a company making a profit or rather the petitioners getting more money or rather than the GDP increasing in to so many trillions. That is your viewpoint, it is completely justified. 
Conversely, somebody may say to hell with, whatever happens, I want my GDP to increase, particular viewpoint. 
Now, which is right or wrong is to be determined by this kind of a moral principle. Do you value the comfort, the monetary will of a citizen more than his physical and moral health? That is the question you will have to resolve every corporate one choice have to resolve. 
I wanted to say, in the principle, what happens is that a lot of regulation gets thrown into it. The regulations are somewhat irritants, but then they are required to steer the car. As I said, these are the boundaries within which you must steer the car. These are the boundaries within you must be the corporate governance.

[00:48:57]   {Somasekhar Sundaresan asks Justice Srikrishna, what according to him is the right way to approach the destination of Truth in extreme political situations. Is it forgiveness & reconciliation or is it vengeance & penalty?}


Somasekhar Sundaresan: 
Sir, it brings me to another question.  Sir, you presided over the Riots Commission for the 92/93 riots that happened at a fairly early stage in your judicial career.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
Just about in 1 year 6 months.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:
The Fact-Finding Commission’s task was to arrive at the truth of what transpired.  
Now different jurisdictions which have faced civil war situations have had different approaches. Some establish what they called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where the idea is to again arrive at the truth, but the directional path is forgiveness rather than vengeance and penalty. South Africa, post-apartheid, seems to have healed itself by using a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with decades of atrocities being acknowledged, established and forgiven
As opposed to say, Cambodia which had a war crime tribunal. 
People are dying before their trial can conclude. There is no closure still and a lot of contentious festering that is continuing. 
So, while both are seeking to arrive at the truth, is the intended destination being varied? Got some value there and I would like your thoughts on these 2 approaches to dealing with the truth in such difficult circumstances.

[00:50:27]   {Justice Srikrishna answers this question very beautifully by saying that regardless of the path taken, the realisation of truth is more important, be it through “Prayascchita” or through realisation of “Dharma” being more superior to all-natural urges}

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
You were talking of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission. What about the war tribunals, war crime tribunals, Tokyo Tribunals and the Nuremberg Trials? Those Nazis are still being found, identified and being punished at the age of 97 and 100, although they could not even be able to take care of them. Anyway, that’s up…
 The point is the Commission of Enquiries Act in the country in India intended only to ascertain the facts as far as feasible without going on to somebody to advice for the government to inform its mind. Now it is not binding on the government. So, it is open to the government to, if it is inconvenient, say that we do not accept these are findings.  
One more good thing is there. In my own estimate, it amounts to as you rightly said, if somebody acknowledges that this has happened, there is an element of catharsis in that.  That opens out so much of bottled emotions to come out, which might cause greater harm if they are bottled up than allowed to vent.  
Say, for example, you were talking about the Bombay Riots Commission. I am quite cognizant that I did nothing great, except give an opportunity to the persons to come and ventilate their grievances. I heard them patiently, sometimes too patiently, after allowing 17 councils to our cross-examine each witness and whatever I could ascertain as the facts that had taken place. Not with a view to finding someone guilty, but for the view to finding what really took place.  That gave them a sense of catharsis as I said.  A catharsis is necessary as you rightly hit on the nail.  When you said, is it a situation of somebody recognizing that I am sorry, I made a mistake let us go forward. Of course, in our Indian terms, it would be called… Prayascchita has always been considered in Indian dharma shastra as an antidote to “Paap” or the sins you might have committed.  
You remember on all the Shravani days, we sit and you say, “We have committed all these crimes, knowingly, unknowingly, consciously, unconsciously oh God, do forgive us.” You have the giants coming and say michhami dukkadam, michhami dukkadam.  The whole idea is that you recognize that you have made mistakes.  Sometimes consciously, knowingly, sometimes unwittingly and the mistakes maybe serious ones like a crime or small things like offending somebody by your word or speech or something.  
“I apologize, I am sorry for this.” Then if that condition is genuine, then you are not likely to do it again. That is the whole idea behind it, but if you are going to say I am sorry and then get out and repeat the whole fault again then the balance has been cleared out. That is not real confusion in the sense that you are talking of.  
Prayaschitta had been intended to me that whatever I have done till now, I accept that it is my mistake and I have been wrong… What you say, is a very interesting thing, fortunately, people hardly…. When you do your Shraavana Upakarma, there is an interesting thing. You recite a mantra which says kāmaḥ karoti nāhaṁ karomi kāmaḥ kartā nāhaṁ kartā kāmaḥ kārayitā nāhaṁ kārayitā eṣa te kāma kāmāya svāhā. Then similarly you say manyuh karoti naham karomi manyuh karta naham karta manyuh karayitaa naham karayita esha te manyo manyave swaha. 
So, it says, kama, my desire led me to do this. My desire to acquire more riches has made me to readily consult corporate entity and made me to divert the money into my pocket. So, I realized that it is wrong. I am sorry, I will not do it. Of course, you cannot say that and getaway, you will be caught and required to be answered before some court of law But I am saying this is the reason. The reason is this again! 
I am sorry…I cannot help coming back to Bhagavad Gita again and again because that is the one that really considers all this. He says…. Bhagwan says in the Bhagavad Gita, an interesting thing. In fact, Arjuna asked him anichchhann api vārṣhṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ. “Oh lord, why is it that a human being does something wrong? Although he does not want to do something wrong, as if he is being forced by something else.”
He says, “Yes, that is true”. He says “kama esa, krodha esa, rajo-guna samudbhavah, mahasano maha-papma, viddy enam iha vairinam”. He says it is according to either desire or anger.  I desire something; therefore, I acutely desire something then I lose my perspective, then I lose that sense of proportion, then I start stealing from somebody, stealing somebody and taking away his property or in sense of rage. In this also, a sense of proportion is lost. I lose my balance and I think I should kill them. These are the basic human emotions which control our thinking. 
In fact, which put our rationality…they actually describe our rationale thinking and impel us to do wrong things or what is recognized as wrong in the society. That is why it is necessary to have a larger perspective.  So, these are all the aspects which are addressed by this concept of dharma. That is why dharma tells you to do what. See everybody…all saints in the world have always told you, “hey, it is easy.” Let me come back to what dharma really means, why is it distinctive.  
There is a very nice saying, which says, “therefore, ca, samanyam etat pasubhir Nara nam, dharmo hi tesam, adhiko viseso, dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah”.  Now, what is it that they are driven by?  Hunger, natural instinct, fear, natural instinct, sex, natural instinct and then sleep, natural instinct. This is true for all human beings. It is true for all the animals also. So, is there no distinction between animal and human being? Because every animal when it wants to eat, it will go and eat something, whatever is permissible for it. According to its thinking, when it sees danger, it runs away…”bhaya“. When it feels sleepy, it goes and sleeps in a corner somewhere, and when it wants to urge and indulge in sex, it goes and indulges in sex in a manner that pleases itself.  
So, what is it that distinguishes human beings from animals? So, this the answer given is “dharmo hi tesam viseso hetu”. It is the dharma, the ability to think and say, “I should not allow these natural urges to take over without being controlled. 
This ability to think and this ability to put control over your natural urges is what distinguishes a human being and this is a very interesting thing. The more you are able to do it, the greater is your index of, let us say, goodness or sentiness. And the more your index is, the more you will be grateful to society. The more everybody’s index is, the society will be a better society.

[00:59:33]   {Somasekhar emphasises on the fact that there is always a context of religion or spirituality when one tries to explain the meaning of truth. He asks justice Srikrishna his views about the interlinkage of religious beliefs to the meaning of truth}


Somasekhar Sundaresan:  
So, in psychology, this is called the difference between the reptilian brain and the remaining part that the humans had. Now, it brings me to another question that I have been meaning to ask you. Would it be fair to say then, that like with ultimate say chitta pragya or bodhicitta
It is an ideal, it is an ultimate pinnacle, which is recognized even by the saints and the monks that they are not permanently achievable. In fact, anyone who claims to have attained bodhicitta follows the punishment of being disrobed as a monk.  
So would an absolute truthful life be a utopian ideal of that nature, where we strive towards it, recognizing that we may never reach it or is it something lower and reachable? And connected to that sir, because there is a lot of spirituality and religion that gets attracted in any discussion on truth, I would also ask that question. I want to bring it on the table and say, is it possible to distinguish and delink religion and spirituality from truth? You would have come across religious liars and agnostic and atheist truthful people in your lives. So, I just wanted you to talk a little bit about that.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:
I did not get the question.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:
The point I was making was there is a lot of interlinkage between religion, spirituality on one side and truth. I wanted to push the question to see whether these are integral elements for a truthful life.  
Can there be an atheist who is truthful, who is not afraid of retribution in the current life or afterlife, but still desires to be truthful as opposed to fear driving theist saying that he will face the punishment of karma for being untruthful today. So, these are 2 facets that I wanted to table because you would have come across religious liars and irreligious truthful people in your career. I wanted you to talk a bit about that.

[01:01:41]   {Justice Srikrishna agrees to Somasekhar’s point & elaborates on various instances of the truthfulness of atheists or the crookedness of people who take undue advantage of the religious respects.}

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
That is why, I said this issue is debatable on two platforms. 
One is purely from the religious or Indian philosophical perspective. The other is from purely the social perspective. Now, let us take that somebody says “I don’t believe in God, I am an atheist or an agnost”. 
For him, the question will be, the social dilemma. Then for him, the answer will be, hey look, what are you doing. For him, the answer will be what Padma Purana told him. Hey, if you are a good man, don’t do on to others what they don’t want them to do it to you. I don’t have to bring in the religion. Actually, that is the teaching of religion, but you can just put it and parcel it in some other fashion and give it to him and we will say okay, I am an agnostic or an atheist, but I accept this principle. 
Now, what if he says I don’t accept this principle. Then what do you do? Therefore, you have to…. See the point is everybody is interested in his self, in his self-interest and anything that comes into the way of fulfilling self-gratification is immediately bound to remain.  
Now, you must have noticed a child wants to go and play, the mother says no don’t go and play there is a rebellion. The child says I want to go and see this movie, she says no. I want to watch videogames, today what is happening. I want to watch videogames, I want to watch TV all the time, mother says no don’t do it. There is an instinct towards self-gratification because the child watching video is great self-gratification for him. But the moment you put a restraint on that, there is a tendency to rebel.  
Now that tendency to rebel is controlled by several things, one is the discipline by the society, the other is you cannot discipline all the persons all the time in respect to everything. So, you tell them that “Hey look, there is this doctrine of karma which, whatever you do, there is going to be some kind of a resultant which you will have to face.” Now you do good things, you will be happy with good things, good results. You do bad things; you will have the consequence and pay for it.  
Now, let me for a moment assume that this is an invented doctrine, although the doctrine is documented way back in the Veda and Upanishads itself. Now it is invented by some clever fellows. For what purpose? For keeping the society under range…for a good purpose, isn’t it? What did it teach you? “Hey, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t run away with your neighbour’s wife, otherwise something bad will happen to you, and that bad may happen to you today or in your next life.” And, invented this theory of rebirth also, saying how do I see that there are crooked people who are enjoying their life fully and not suffering worried. The answer is somebody has to pay for it. So, he will take another birth where he will have to answer for the consequences. 
Now, that is why the doctrine of karma has been used and that is one of the most used doctrines without people understanding it. People have told me that it makes you fatalists. I said no, on the contrary, if I am born with a disability and I say, “Hey I am disabled because of what I did wrong last time, let me make sure that this time I am not going to do wrong things, so that next time I will not be disabled, next time I will not have this kind of a problem, this kind of constant misery.”
Otherwise, how do you explain all people who are really good suffering, really bad, not suffering? Therefore, this is something that even if you treat it from a sociological perspective, I agree that the person can be truthful without having any iota of belief in god or iota of belief…in being a total agnostic. From a sociological perspective, he is right. That is the way he looks at it, possible.
Conversely, somebody maybe a, we see that. In fact, I have had the occasion to punish such swamijis and sent them to gallows, who were crooks at heart, but who put on the façade of a saintly man. So that people, Indian society, would treat a saintly man with a great respect. They took undue advantage of that.  
So, it is possible either way, I don’t dispute that, but then the question is you have to make sure what are you doing, who are you dealing with. You have to defend it for yourself, in this man, that is where your relative truth is compared to bad hell. If you deal with me on a daily basis and if you find that I am not true to my work, what is the impression I will leave on your mind. “This fellow is not believable.”  
I will tell you, take a simple thing. You start to make an appointment, it is 11’o clock in the morning and you want me to log on and you don’t find me at all till 11:30, what will you say… If I do it 2 times, 3 times obviously I will be charged as an unworthy person. Forget your religious beliefs, it is a belief. 
Social interaction which determines by work
The answer is easy, what you said is correct. I agree.


[01:07:37]   {Somasekhar Sundaresan asks Justice Srikrishna how to deal with people who are chronically departed from truth, but closely associated to you.}


Somasekhar Sundaresan:
Sir, it brings me to some of the practical questions that people have been asking while we are having this conversation.  Many want to know what is your suggestion for instilling the value & truth for somebody who is a chronically given to departing from the truth.
What are your suggestions for dealing with somebody who is chronically given to departing from the truth?  How do we instil values?  What suggestions, practical suggestions do you give for dealing with such a person?

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
Don’t deal with people at all.  If somebody comes and takes money and tells I am going to return it to you on the first and he does not, the next time he comes to me I will say, “Good luck to you! do what you like, I will not give you money.”, isn’t it?
Or somebody enters into your contract with you and breaches it and does not pay you the money in time or deliver the goods on time, what do you do with him?  In practical life, you will say good luck to you, I will not enter into an agreement with you at all.  That is the thing.

Somasekhar Sundaresan: 
With the third party it is easier, but suppose it is a child or it is a sibling or it is…

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
Child can be disciplined.  I am talking of societal relationship in corporate.

Somasekhar Sundaresan: 
By child, I mean an adult offspring.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
Yes, adult offspring can be subjected to all kinds of discipline, why not?

Somasekhar Sundaresan: 
So, any practical suggestions do you have with some of the questions people are asking?


Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
An adult will not be beaten, I agree. You cannot beat them. Of course, in various countries, even beating, even raising your voice is considered an offence. Fortunately, not so in this country.  
The child can be put under restraint, discipline. But for adults, discipline is by way of cutting off your interim.  
Let us say, my son, luckily, I don’t have a son. My son is a wretched liar. So, I will tell him, “Very good! You don’t want to be truthful; you are dealings are dishonest, everybody comes and complains that you are dishonest and you are encashing your father’s reputation and taking money and running away. Very good. From, my, whatever little earning I have, I will not give you a fortune, unless I am satisfied that you are straightforward. You go and look for yourself and do what you like. “
That is the way you can discipline. 
I cannot do anything; I cannot beat him.

[01:10:10]   {Somasekhar Sundaresan asks Justice Srikrishna how to deal with harsh truths or the truth that may be perceived as “harsh” or “unpleasant” by other people.}


Somasekhar Sundaresan: 
Sir, it brings me to one another question I have been meaning to ask. 
Sir, the shloka of “satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam.”  can be problematic or dilemmatic, where people are often… people read it to me that speaking a harsh untruth is not a good thing. So rather keep quiet than bring it up or you may get hounded for speaking harsh untruths, or it may be seen as an unpleasant person, unpleasant character.  
Therefore, how do we deal with that, what is the correct way to interpret it? What is the practical lesson for people faced with that situation? Because Gandhi pushed a lot for speaking the truth, but equally the 3 monkeys of Gandhi, the concept is hijacked as to say speak no evil means speak no truth that is seen as evil by anybody else, is the way we have come.
So how do we deal with that?

[01:11:16]   {Justice Srikrishna gives a solution to this through a reference from the Ramayana & the Mahabharata. He says that one must always speak up the truth that protects somebody’s interests. But, at the same time, the truth ought to be spoken in a way that doesn’t hurt their sentiment.}
Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
For the time being, we will keep the monkeys where they are. We just talked about the issue you have raised. 
First of all, let us analyse what is that statement you referred to. It is “Satyam bruyat priyam bruyat. Na bruyat satyam apriyam. Priyam cha nanrutham bruyat. Esha dharmah sanatanah.”
For example, if I take, if you remember the Ramayana, Vibhishana is an honest person, he is a straightforward person. He feels that what Ravana has done in running away with Rama’s wife and imprisoning her somewhere is wrong. So, he goes and tells him. He says, “Oh brother, it is wrong on your part, what you are doing is extremely sinful. Please apologize and return the lady to him or I will have to take her away.”  
Ravana says, “What nonsense! I am the king here in Sri Lanka; who are you to tell me all this? You are a fellow who does not understand it, you are a traitor.”… and then he kicks him out or something of that sort.

Somashekhar Sundaresan: 

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:
Yes, sedition. That charge of sedition in the good old days also used to be there when you talked truth. 
So, what does it mean? It means that there is a very nice, now that you raised it. If you remember as a member of Bombay Riots Commission, the beginning shloka itself I had put in the Ramayana shloka, which says, “sulabhah purusha rajan satatam priyavadinah, apriyasya tu pathyasya vakta shrota cha durlabhah”.  
It said this is what Vibhishana tells his brother Ravana. He tells him, “O king, there are 100 of people, scores of people who are willing to talk, but what is pleasant to you, but what is pleasant and at that time, virtually, what is not present, but at that time what is healthy for you, you will not find a person who will be able to talk like that nor will you find a person who will accept it”.  
See this is the difficulty, the Mahabharata puts it in a different sense and these are 2 independent principles, “satyam bruyat” speak the truth, at the same time “priyam bruyat” in such a manner that you don’t hurt the person and don’t forget what is the ultimate reason for all this, “satyam cha priyahitam bruyat”. 
Your truth that you put to somebody, is also diplomatically true, in a way that does not hurt the person and also intended for his benefit. “Esha dharma sanatanah”, that is the dharma. So, the dharma is a convergence of various principles…of conflicting principles, I would say.
So, where what is the resultant is important. I normally give you a mathematical illustration, it is like triangular forces or a parallelogram of forces.  It is the resultant that is important, not the sides.  
If you take a triangle of four sides, one side will be truth, that will be priyam, one side will be priyam whatever. What is it that you want, the resultant is always converging towards it? That is the dharma, dharma is you have to be able to maintain your relationship. You have to ensure that there is no discarded note in your interrelationship, and at the same time, it is necessary that the truth has to be put; that is beneficial to the other person without being offensive. Why is it not possible? 
Take for example, let us say I am walking around on the street and my zipper is loose and it is down. So, somebody who sees me, kind-hearted person will come to me and say, “Sir excuse me, your zip is down”. That is one way of thinking or shouting from the other end, “Hey old man, your zipper is down, don’t you see things are hanging down”? which is truth, but then the other one puts it in a diplomatic man satyam cha…he wants to make sure that I am not caused and offended by his words and at the same time he wants to make sure that he is telling me the truth and ensuring that my reputation in the public is kept intact. So that is the concept, that is the resultant.  
So, I don’t see any difficulty in that.  
See the 3 monkeys is a situation where you shall not speak evil, you shall not go around looking for evil in others. Otherwise, our tendency is to look for the wrong things in others. And then, you shall not listen to gossip about somebody else. To that extent, the monkey is right. That does not mean that you speak the truth or that you don’t see evil wherever it is there and eradicate it or that you will not talk about it. I don’t think that was the intention of Mahatma Gandhi or anybody else.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:  
So, we have some questions from the audience. One is sometimes a senior person speaks a small lie and his supervisor may know it. Should I confront him at the same moment or ignore it so as to not embarrass him?

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
Correct. If you are smart, you call in and say, hey I want to talk to you, take him to your room and say, “This is not a falsehood that you are rendering, my friend. Why do you want to do this? ” That is a more diplomatic way, I feel.
Diplomacy is not telling lies. Diplomacy is saying the truth in a manner that is acceptable to the other one without being offensive.  If I say anything to your face, nothing happens. Your ego gets hurt and you get offended.
But, if you had to put in a diplomatic fashion and say, “I know there is some problem about this statement. Can you rework it?”. Why is it done? It is done for benefit of yourselves, so you may not, ultimately face the consequence of seeing something that is not true. Simple! 

Somasekhar Sundaresan: 
There is one question…more from a commoner kind of a question. 
As a judge, do you accept the truth or facts, as presented to you or do you have a more fundamental responsibility to use the smell test and strive to discover the real truth or facts?

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
My oath of office, as a judge, schedules 3 of the constitution essays. It is to ensure that the laws as the constitution and the law as enacted are upheld.  So, I am not there trying to discover truth beyond what is presented. 
Let us take a simple case now.  Let us say, I am sitting in criminal court, criminal office court or criminal trial court.  My job is not to say, the evidence does not show this man is guilty. But according to me, someone will say. How can I jump to that and holding duty and send him to jail?
My job in a tribunal trial is to ensure that the evidence is collected in a lawful manner, presented in a lawful manner, against the person who has been charged and who has been made aware of what he is charged with, scrutinize it, after giving the accused person sufficient opportunity to meet the evidence at long. And then if the evidence points to a situation of his guilt without any doubt, convicting. 
I don’t have to find out from myself and say, no I have got some superior brain.  I am going to indulge in it and tell you that irrespective of this what you are showing you are guilty.  Supposing the evidence shows that he was never guilty.  Am I going to say no my instinct tells me that you are guilty?
That is, unfortunately, I don’t subscribe to that theory at all.  I am not Solomon, I never claim to be a Solomon and a judge’s job is to do justice according to law, I am not God.  I am not going to be nor I am a Godly man, who can stand up outside the court of law and say, “You come to me, I will give justice to you”, No.  As a judge, my job is to do justice according to law.
Whatever law I have prescribed, I have to do it and within the parameters of the law whatever I can do to help the cause of justice.  As I told you, there are 4 lanes which lane I travel in depends on my discretion, but beyond the lane, if I come, I will kill someone with my vehicle that way.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:  
There is one question for you saying what dominant forces shaped your value system as a professional and as a human being?

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:
What dominant value?

Somasekhar Sundaresan:
What dominant forces shaped.  What factors perhaps influenced your value system?

Justice B. N. Srikrishna: 
I was fortunate enough to be born in a family, which recognizes very high standards of moral and ethical values.  My parents and I was fortunate enough to have studied under brilliant teachers, who from day 1 instilled in me a sense of high values, ethical values. 
And I took some trouble to myself look into all these scriptures to understand whether they really say what people are advocating them to have been saying and whatever little I gathered, I am managing with it in the last 2 years of my life and continue to do it.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:  
There is one wide concept that is coming up repeatedly that somehow, perhaps, justice is trapped in legality. Justice is trapped in the law and with the constant barrage of how media coverage of even matters under investigation is underway in society.
Whatever be the outcome, there will be some segment of society, which should be left with a feeling it has not got justice because of some technical legal issue.  Is there an antidote to this because a trust deficit in the justice delivery system is being affected?

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
See the point is, it is impossible to please everyone. Let us understand that. As they say, it is not possible to please everyone at all times. 
Now, therefore, you have to do something and what do you fall back on. Do I have to sit down everyday morning and look at the local newspaper and say, hey, the newspaper says…Let us say I found a newspaper poll. Today’s poll says 80% say guilty, 20% say not guilty. 
Therefore, shall I go by it or as a person who has taken an oath at office, after 5, I cannot forget the oath of office I have taken. Now I will do justice with a clearer favour. Now this newspaper is a fear in my mind, “am I doing something wrong”? Therefore, that is not something that is to actuate me or favour. Somebody calling me up and saying, “Let this fellow off, he is my friend”. That is a favour. I can do neither. 
I have to go by what the book says, what the law is and as interpreted by various wise people in this country, plus whatever little interpretation I can put on whatever little God-given talent and apply it to the facts before me as I see them and then decide. Only if the newspapers called me, I am wrong, I am wrong. Okay, if I am honestly right.  
Now that is something that needs to be seen. Ultimately, don’t forget that whether Rama was right in banishing Sita or not is hypocrisy. Some people say from the point of view of Rama that he was justified, that he scotched a rumour that somebody was propagating about his wife, integrating. 
And the feminists say, nothing doing. He was masculine, MCP that he disbelieved his wife and threw her away into that. I don’t know, this may be right, that may be right, but Rama did what he thought was right according to the norms of his time, that’s all.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:  
Any other practical suggestions or practical instructions you would have followed for normal, simple people in the Vyavaharika word.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:  
I gave you one simple term, “sruyatam, dharma-sarvasvam srutva caivavadharyatam, atmanah pratikulani paresam na samacaret”.  Whatever has happened to you, please avoid doing it to others”. Follow this principle in life with a practical dharma shastra. You don’t have to read Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata, Ramayana. 
Hang on to these principles, test on this principle, anything that happens in real life and I am sure you will be on the right side. You will be absolutely on the right side of that, absolutely no doubt about that.  
That is why they call it dharma sarvasvam, that is good essence of dharma.  
Do not do on to something, do on to someone else what you do not want to be done to you, whether you are in corporate job, government job or whether you are a lawyer or a judge or anybody working on the street. 
This principle works good, that is a practical thing.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:
Thank you, sir. I think we have run out of time on this. I will hand it back to Vallabh, if he has any further questions before he concludes the session.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:
Okay, thank you very much.

Somasekhar Sundaresan:
Thank you, sir. It has been delightful.

Justice B. N. Srikrishna:
Thank you. Very enjoyable talking to you.

Sir, we are overwhelmed looking at your passion and looking at your energy, looking at this insanity with which you went into great depths and your absolutely oceanic knowledge, the ease with which you can recite so many scriptures has been wonderfully inspiring, and your examples from the slipper and to Rama Sita, to the rapist chasing a girl, I think you have covered the area of truth from a common man’s point of view in so many different ways. 
It has been an absolute fascinating session and my dear friend Som, you were able to really bring out the best from his experience.  I think we need a 3 hour program really to do justice to the expectations of people and to get some more nuggets out of his vast knowledge and wisdom.
Friends, TRUTHtalks is an experiment.  It is a very delicate one as I said.  Do write to us on comment section of YouTube channel with your comments, with your suggestions, with what you think is not right, it is for everyone’s sake that this has been done.
Thank you once again for joining.
We are slightly late today, but it has been so fascinating and so captivating.  Thank you very much, Justice Srikrishna again and Som.