One Country, Many Courts

When freedom to adjudicate & duty to govern become independent of each other but in sync with the abiding holy book of constitution, democracy thrives, institutions flourish & societies become more empowered.

BY DANFES

Notwithstanding the recent directive by virtue of which the Government has authorised & empowered some ten odd agencies to gaze, surf & dissect open all our tech gadgetry including our computers, mobile phones, tablets etc, we can continue to take heart from the recent SC ruling about right to privacy being fundamental & anything that is seen as a trespass, deliberate or otherwise, overt or covert into any of these basic rights enshrined in our constitution, the same shall be in violation of its (SC) order. People at the helm would have their own conjectures, theories & conviction to back such a move, yet anything that is perceived an interjection or excessive fantasy by powers to be, the same would be liable for scrutiny & must pass muster at the courts.

The definite reaction to such promulgations by the executive is one of shock & dissent. Acting as a court unto itself, this government has shown undesired tendency to stir debate when none existed & therefore create some stimulus that they think would reverberate amongst the receptive audiences at large. However history is replete with instances when such mistimed moves have boomeranged & caused more damage than they could be seen as likely profitable indiscretions.  

Quite naturally then the opposition has latched on this as another opportunity to corner the government labelling its endeavour as nothing but an blatant Surveillance of the citizenry. They have come down heavily on the Modi Government & asked for immediate withdrawal of such an order that they believe is impinging on our right to Privacy. Anand Sharma of the Congress, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI (M), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), Mamta Banerjee (Trinamool), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Manoj Jha (JDS) & others, all have voiced their reservations about the order terming it as an assault on the fundamental rights of a common citizen, a snoop gate, murder of democracy & an undeclared emergency by Modi Government. The most terse remark was that by Assad din Owaisi, who said that maybe this is what they meant by “Ghar Ghar Modi”. One could clearly see coming together of opposition parties in a rare demonstration of unity & giving us a sneak peek into the making of a Mahaghatbandhan despite incoherent ideologies.

The Government may well argue that such a provision already existed from 2009 & that it was only reiterating its tenets in the interest of national security & sovereignty. But post SC ruling on Aadhar & its scope clearly affirming our right to privacy & therefore detaching this from the broader contours of welfare by the state as also the issues pertaining to security of our country, it will be difficult for any state to use any unsubstantiated alibi to execute in specific areas, the powers to use the provisions of this new order.

So while we mustn’t lose faith in the top court, we should actually worry about some digressions & pointed observations of Lordships that can do more harm than good. Take the recent Meghalaya High Court judgement for example. Some would argue that this was at best an undesired overreach & an unnecessary wading into hitherto non-existent debate. Such an elaborate observation on citizenship act, to put it mildly, said more of a political activism in the name of administering justice than anything else. This is wading into choppy waters; something that has the potential to cause a serious damage to the secular & plural character & to the very notion of one India.

Now therein lays the disturbing undercurrent of some sort of allegiance to some ideology & belief system amongst the administrators of natural justice that runs parallel to the sacrosanct constitutional duties & obligations.

There exists another court; the people’s court or the Kangaroo courts. So when a certain Naseeruddin Shah chooses to say what he said as a concerned citizen of Bharat; he is trolled, demonised & dubbed anti-national by these self styled champions of nationalism & patriotism. If anything they should be more concerned than anyone else since such reaction is retrograde & fraught with serious consequences, completely unwarranted. So much for our freedom of expression, healthy debates, dissent etc & for a very tolerant society that respects every shade of opinion & that also attempts to correct the mild aberrations even when a divergent view persisted; that is the beauty of a thriving democracy. It reminded us of an earlier story involving Aamir Khan when he had also expressed his unease & irritation about how he & his family felt immediately in the months after Modi government came to power.

Cut back to the latest reiteration of the “executive court” & you may find that all was not without a reason. India is on the cusp of a very historic 2019 that shall determine the very idea & establish the credo that has defined this country, this civilisation for centuries now. The coming Lok Sabha elections are to my mind a watershed event in our political history that shall for the major part of this first half of this century relay the path for all of us; the road, the highway to India or Bharat. Who knows that in taking the old jacket out of the cupboard, launder it & wear this for some show off or political capital might well turn out to be a calculated ploy, engineered by the incumbent government in the immediate aftermath of the state elections. Are we reading too much into this subject or is it a natural corollary to surmise? Time alone will tell.   

Perhaps that illustrates the significance of the event; we all were witness to few months ago. When some of the most learned Lordships including the incumbent CJI Mr. Ranjan Gogoi went public in a rare show of displeasure & shock about the state of affairs in the highest seat of justice. By a strange coincidence though, they were perhaps riding pillion to the most powerful proclamation of the very Constitution that they had taken oath to uphold & protect & what every individual is granted his or her right to; that of a right to liberty & to the freedom of expression.

Most of us would argue that such an outpouring may have allowed us to rummage through our beliefs & what we have sacredly thought about these institutions/courts for centuries. But despite the cacophony that sometimes disturbs our common sense & psyche; we continue to revere our only constitutionally enfranchised real courts & nothing else & that to me is the brightest light at the end of the tunnel.