The End-Game of Democracy

supreme court

One hopes fervently that the honourable judges of the Supreme Court understand the final repercussions of the present government’s latest initiatives.It is nothing less than the abolition of constitutional democracy as we understand it.The draconian provisions of the revised penal code,the brutal elimination of existing safeguards for tribal rights,human sustenance and environmental sustainability from biodiversity laws,and the Chief Economic Adviser’s ‘personal’ loud thoughts urging the framing of a new constitution indicate a new conjuncture of escalating corporate rapacity and vaulting political ambition,which can only lead to plain and simple fascism.

In this situation deferring to government onslaughts that inevitably shrink the freedom of citizens,while taking pains to uphold individual liberties might allow an errant government to radically alter the character of the state unimpeded.A new constitution will only complete this transition.

The CJI has in a way hinted at such a threat when in a recent exchange in court he pointedly asked Attorny General Tushar Mehta if the government wants to dictate to the Supreme Court how and how far to conduct judicial review of laws passed by Parliament in its draft SOP about ‘government related cases’.(THE HINDU August 22).

Actually all such steps appear to be virtual drastic revisions that alter the character of the present constitution to prepare the public for its eventual replacement by a brand new one untainted by the feeble concessions to liberal values even in those colonial times and embodying full-fledged despotism to be sanctified by an apology for a constitution.

In the outcome the SC will surely be turned into a lowly rubberstamp of the monster state like the ill-fated German courts under Nazi Germany.

While formal good manners and maintenance of appearances are understandable,there could be no mistake about the deadly adversarial relations between our constitutional heritage and the unconcealed intentions of the rulers.For the honourable judges the dream of preserving the status quo in the legal and judicial system in comfortable circumstances is actually fading and they now face the unnerving prospects of struggle to the death for constitutional democracy.

The sooner their lordships face the stark,staring reality,the better the scope for a decent fight to uphold democracy.Such crises initiated by an assault on courts are not uncommon and other countries had gone through them. At the moment even Israel seems to be in the throes of it.

Time was when the SC had blandly watched over piecemeal emasculation of civil rights to the despair of citizens.One recalls Justice Bobde’s picturesque view that right to protest was nothing more than airing one’s opposition to a government decision or measure in some public space and then going home quietly.But now the SC seems to be more resolute in defending the rights of citizens and the due process of law in relations between the citizens and the state.But they are called upon to do something more, fight for preservation of

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator


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