Does Court Judgement on Rahul Gandhi Breach Human Rights (Freedom of Expression)

scales of justice

Sorry! This is a serious issue. This writer feels sorry, if not peeved by the infantile Euphoria that seems to damage India’s image to the world due this issue. It looks as though “bearded “ Rahul is booted out and not “bearded” Modi! Since both give their allegiance to Mahatma Gandhi, who was not “bearded”, smacks a bit peevish. Additionally one gets a strange feeling that Nishkama Karma is lost, and “agama karma” (coming unknown Karmas) is being forced into. Applied consequentially, also affect the present parties in elections.

Our revered PM may be well advised to stick to the principles of Bhagawat Gita, and equalise to everybody including his own party members or these very principles will destine you to you fate. (Law of Karmic Causality – that no one escape)

Just the other day the Hindu editorial (25 March 2023) put out the following:

In a country that often frets over criminalisation of politics, corruption and hate speeches, it is ironic that criminal defamation should overwhelm the political career of a prominent leader.

  • A modern democracy should not treat defamation as a criminal offence at all,” the editorial pointed out.
  • It is a legacy of an era in which questioning authority was considered a grave crime. In contemporary times, criminal defamation mainly acts as a tool to suppress criticism of public servants and corporate misdeeds.
  • In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld criminal defamation without adequate regard to the chilling effect it has on free speech, and to that, one must now add, political opposition and dissent.
  • Opposition parties expressing dismay at the verdict against Mr. Gandhi should include abolishing criminal defamation in their agenda.
  • With general elections due in 2024, the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi will be seen as an attempt to stifle free speech, political opposition and dissent, and that makes this story important.

This Editorial raised few essential points to which I wish to add a few more in the interest of a healthy, democratic national life.

a) The transgression here seems to be a Private Right (under Private Law) is mistaken to be a Public Right (under Public Law). Simply put, Rahul Gandhi as a private and public citizen made his personal private opinion public, but it was not made in Parliament, or was it?

The essential question here is, has the Court any authority to decide on what a person should say in private or in public and on what matters? If yes, the Court breaches Human Rights. Can the Indian Constitution stand up to this test. I am afraid, no democratic legal system in this world can.

b) Two moral standards are at work. Has any person any right to denigrate another person from the position caste / class status publicly verbally or vocally, and if not, does it deserve the status of a “criminal” act? Is it a pardonable act if the doer submits an apology.

c) Is political exclusion entailed or warranted for a private opinion addressed publicly? Can Indian Law clearly and unequivocally answer this?

Indian Jurists are challenged to face this onerous task of clarification.

The ruling government has to take this matter as of deep constitutional concern. Or else the Indian Judicative stands in jeopardy for future unlimited abuse, if not disrespected as irrelevant.  The present govt. will then be fated to history.

George Chakko, former U.N. correspondent, now retired in Vienna, Austria


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