Institutions to protect democracy have to show their strength

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The raid on Newsclick by the enforcement directorate unambiguously shows how the government ‘respect’ those voices who differ with it. The Enforcement Directorate these days has become the new CBI and is being used as a political tool. This is deeply disturbing how these agencies have allowed themselves to be used as a political tool to harass the opponents of the ruling party. When big media has failed and turned completely the loudspeaker of the Sarkari party, it is these voices which have kept our hopes high but then this government is not satisfied with the presence of all the ‘big’ ‘media houses’ with it. Maybe, they also know the fact that these media houses have completely lost their credibility and that is why people would love to watch all those who may not be big but definitely ‘taller’ than the Darbaris and that is why attempt to intimidate them.

The ‘outrage’ and ‘protests’ of BJP mantris and netas were reserved for hate monger Arnab Goswami. It is interesting to see the events of how the government asked twitter to remove certain handles spreading poison and hatred. Ambani channels seeking ‘expert’ views of the head of the notorious IT cell, on the hate campaign on social media and whether it needs to be regulated. Frankly speaking, rules and regulation these days are only meant to control the opponents otherwise the ruling party can do anything. It can get a comedian arrested on the comments he did not make. The mantriji can announce that Rs 18,000 will be deposited in the bank account immediately after ‘their’ government comes to power in West Bengal without any ‘fear’ and spineless darbaris start singing songs of ‘valour’. None question that this is unethical and pure bribery to the voters. We still wait to hear from the election commission about the same.

A young climate activist from Banglore has just been arrested for ‘uploading’ the ‘kit’ on twitter. Perhaps she will be accused of sedition. The ‘court’ ‘accepted’ the plea of the agencies and sent her a reminder. These days we don’t see much questioning of the authorities but simply accepting what they demand. Most of them have become actually ‘Executive Court. So, it is not justice that we are looking for but ‘punishment’. Perhaps that power to ‘punish’ is becoming the glamor and not the issue of justice for all. The Washington Post recently revealed that the Bhima Koregaon ‘evidence’ was planted in the computers of the accused by hacking but we did not hear any outrage in the media. The intimidation is growing. We now will have a social media policy. The party which used social media to divide people and intimidate them is calling to ‘regulate’. Reading, speaking and participating in debates and discussion is fast becoming crime. Those who are spreading hatred are enjoying the patronage and can say anything to any one. Only those who respond to such hatred face the criminalisation.

A couple of days back Rajya Sabha Member Shri Ranjan Gogoi said that our judiciary was ‘ram-shackled’ and it needed change. I am not sure what he was upset about judiciary but the way things are not moving and stuck at a certain level is not good for our democratic set up. Gogoi virtually mocked the ‘training courses’ at the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal advising them to ‘train’ the judges about how to write judgements. While Mr Gogoi was upset about non appointments of the judges at various high courts and Supreme Court, those who really value judiciary as the most important institution of a liberal and free democracy, would be disappointed at the way our courts ‘prioritised’ cases. It virtually ‘accepted’ things presented by the executive most of the time. It had no time to ask the agencies why charge sheets have not been filed even after two years of arrests of activists. The biggest disappointment is that people are languishing in jails for many many years without any charge sheet but we don’t see any outrage or anger in the Courts against the executive.

An eminent lawyer like Sudha Bhardwaj languishes in the jails without chargesheet. Over 90% physically disabled G N Saibaba continues to face humiliation with continuous incarceration in Nagpur Jail as one of ‘biggest criminals’ of India. Reports suggest that he has contracted Covid and is already ailing. There seems to be no respect for basic values of humanity. It is becoming more and more cruel, perhaps to intimidate others. You can’t love a person of your choice. You can’t eat food of your choice. They can’t watch anything of your choice as the feeling of so many people gets ‘hurt’ due to these ‘fundamental rights’. A feudal society which wants to control everything actually feels threatened if an individual makes an independent choice. It looks that for everything we will have to take permission from the state. Where do people get protection and justice? Those who are threatening are roaming free in the name of ‘rastrabhakti’ while agencies trap and intimidate the political opponents and dissenters.

Where will all this take to India. American fought because they had vibrant institutions. the judiciary and media actually were in the forefront in protecting people’s rights but back home here we are distressed. What are the avenues for the people to get justice ? Is there any chance that the person will not be incarcerated for an indefinite period and in the name of justice you will only get a date for next hearing or no hearing. An ailing Varavara Rao has not been able to get bail because the courts dont seem to be convinced. In the Arnab case, Justice Chandrachud so loudly said jail is an exception but bail should be the rule but where is it being implemented?

We may moan about the quality of media and social media but the biggest worry is the judiciary. People may call Mr Ranjan Gogoi as hypocrite but somewhere he spoke the truth on ‘judiciary being ramshackled’. Let us see how it responds to it.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist



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Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter @freetohumanity Email: [email protected]

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