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Democratic India and draconian laws

Peoples Voice on July 14, 2015 - 1:22 pm in Reforms

Democratic India has far more draconian laws than the India under the British imperial rule. In fact, the Rowlatt Act whose opposition led to the massacre of more than a thousand men, women and children at the Jallianwala Bag is very mild and liberal compared to MISA (1971) TADA (1985), UAPA (1967) , POTA (2002) , AFSPA (1958) and numerous other laws enacted by the Union and the State governments after independence. Under the Rowlatt Act thousands could not have been arrested indiscriminately as is done under the dreaded draconian laws enacted in the Republic of India. When a democratic government needs draconian laws , it means that it has ceased to be a government for the people and is engaged in serving a handful at the cost of the multitude leading to the need of an arsenal of draconian laws to suppress the protesting masses. Would the people create such a situation for a government which serves them well as to warrant enactment of draconian laws for their own suppression ? Such a course would be illogical and irrational. If there is a need for ruthless laws in our country , there has to be a reason . The fact is that successive governments after independence have been shamelessly violating the letter and spirit of the constitution and betraying the the people to serve the rich causing anger and resentment. To take only a few examples, the constitution enjoins the State to ‘minimise the inequalities in income’ and’ eliminate the inequality of status, opportunity and facility ‘ but the rulers have been maximising them. The constitution enjoins the State to prevent concentration of wealth and the means of production into a few hands , but the rulers have been doing the opposite and have created a class of the rich and super rich. The constitution mandates the State to utilise the resources of the nation for the community , but the same is being gifted to the handful of the rich to make them richer. The rich fund all the political parties and finance their leaders, and they all return the favour by employing the power of the State and resources of the nation to serve the interest of their benefactors at the cost of the people. They have reduced our democracy to a plutocracy ( the rule of the rich ) with the facade of democracy. It is this plutocracy , which impels the government of the day to fill its arsenal with draconian laws to suppress the masses clamoring for the fulfillment of the dream which the politicians have sold them .

The people are helpless in forcing the government to implement the provisions in the constitution (mentioned above ) because they have been made non- justiciable i.e. the courts cannot direct the State to implement them. All the provisions dealing with the welfare of the people have been placed in Part IV of the .constitution , which are non-justiciable. Thus the people have been made helpless spectators of the usurpation of their rights and their future while the usurpers have been vesting themselves with ferocious laws to suppress them if they raise their voice against their betrayal. Ours is a government of the people and by the people because it is elected by the people , but is not a government for the people because it serves a handful instead of the general public. It offers bouquet to its paymasters and lathis, bullets and prison to the rest. The draconian laws are needed to shut us in the prisons and ask us to shut up.

Like so many superstitions it is blindly believed that our country is under the rule of law. There are features ,which may support the notion, but the test of the pudding is in the eating. If the guilty do not escape punishment and the innocent are not punished , the claim is unquestionable. But does India pass the test?Can we claim that even 5% of our politicians and public servants are not corrupt ? But what is the percentage of the corrupt who are punished ? If it is accepted that only those of the politicians and public servants are corrupt who have been convicted by a court of law , then India will have to be declared the ‘least corrupt country in the world ‘. Similarly, in 1984 about 3000 Sikhs were massacred in Delhi alone, but how many were punished ? Hundreds were massacred in Gujarat riots in 2002 , but how few have been punished ? Are .Rajeev Gandhi and Narendra Modi innocent because they have not been tried and convicted by a court ? They are no exceptions. There is an army of countless criminals who have not only escaped punishment but are ruling the roost. How does our criminal justice system operate ? Rohini Salian , the Public Prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case has resigned because the NIA asked her to sabotage the case .Why ? Because the accused are not Muslim terrorists but Hindu terrotists. In Ajmer blast case, .the witnesses are turning hostile because the government in Delhi has changed. Amit Shah and the other accused in Gujarat have started getting bail one after another. Can we still claim that the law is allowed to take its own course? Is it not a reality that the course of law is decided by the powers that be?

The other side of the coin is the havoc played with the personal liberty of the innocent persons. So much is rightly made of the detention of 35000 under MISA during the emergency. But those detentions are at least accepted as a black spot on our democracy. But what about the detention of 76000 persons under TADA in the wake of Khalistan movement in Punjab in 1980s ? Of these ,19000 were detained in Gujarat alone , where there was not even a whisper of terrorism at that point of time .Thousands others were also indiscriminately detained outside Punjab. Personal liberty is the cheapest commodity in India, which can be taken away for no fault of yours without a compensation. Shameless laws are shamelessly enacted to rob the people of their personal liberty, a spectacle we shamelessly watch with disgusting indifference. POTA presents a glaring example of a shameless law and our disgusting indifference. Vaiko, a Tamil Nadu, leader and an M.P.was detained by Jaylalitha under POTA. The whole world including the P.M. Bajpai knew he was no terrorist , the judiciary knew knew he was no terrorist but nobody could set him at liberty , and he remained in jail till the government changed in Tamil Nadu. How does such a thing become possible ? Simply by defining a ‘terrorist,’Maoist’ or an ‘Unlawful activity ‘in such a way that anyone of us may become a ‘terrorist’ , ‘Maoist,’ ‘anti-national ‘or worse if the government declares so.By the time,you prove that the allegation is false, you have remained shut in a jail for years , your health is ruined and your family in hell. Such injustice is a the hallmark of a fascist state and not of either a democracy and or the rule of law.

And we , too. are guilty because while , the real enemies of the nation have been ruling the roost , we have continued to watch their match for the throne cheering and jeering our favorite team with an unpardonable indifference to the subversion of the rule of law and the victims of this subversion.

Prof. Prabhakar Sinha
National President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

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