The past week has been a bag of trick or treats for the Centre. While they put up runs on the board during the visit of the Nepalese Prime Minister, they dropped a very important catch in Panchkula. Sushma Swaraj continued to win brownie points by offering the visiting Prime Minister a glass of water during a press conference. Her colleague, Suresh Prabhu salvaged some respect by taking moral responsibility for the 2 mishaps in the railways and indicating that he has offered to resign.
If I were to do an analysis of the ledger based solely on the past week, the government’s account is in the red. A situation that was foreseen and could have been avoided by seeking help from the Centre, spiraled out of hand and escalated rapidly. The state government’s policy for controlling the assembled population and preventing violence failed.
In contrast, the Indian Judiciary system has been in sublime form, coming out with three landmark judgements. While it took the courts between 2 to 15 years to produce a ruling on the different cases, it is heartening to see the progressive ideology and reinforcement of law and order. On Tuesday, the 22nd of August, the Supreme Court of India termed the practice of Triple Talaq unconstitutional. As Hasina Khan points out in her article, this wasn’t a victory merely for the 5 petitioners, but for the 90 million female Muslim population of the country. Time will tell how the Parliament ensures an efficient implementation of the ruling, but one hopes the hierarchy with in a marriage will be attacked head on.
On Thursday, the 24th of August, a nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Kehar held that privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution. While many saw this as a blow to the central government’s Aadhar card initiative, one must not ignore the various positives in the landmark judgement. By ruling that privacy is a constitutionally protected value under articles 14, 15 and 21, the Supreme Court ingeniously created the opportunity for the term ‘privacy’ to be used in an extensive manner. The following excerpts from the 547 page verdict are a cause for celebration-
“Privacy is not lost or surrendered merely because the individual is in a public place.”
“Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life,
marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. Privacy also connotes a right to be left alone.”
“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.”
“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual”
“The purpose of elevating certain rights to the stature of guaranteed fundamental rights is to
insulate their exercise from the disdain of majorities, whether legislative or popular. The guarantee of constitutional rights does not depend upon their exercise being favourably regarded by majoritarian opinion.”
On Friday, the 25th of August, the special CBI court found Dera Sachha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty on two counts of rape. The court applauded the CBI for constructing a water tight case. It had also directed the then accused to issue a statement to his followers to disperse from Panchkula and directed the Haryana government to take the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that law and order is maintained. While the justice might have been delayed due to the convicted leader’s political connections, it was not denied. And that is not all, the court also took suo moto cognizance this time round and ordered to attach all his property to pay for the loss to the exchequer that took place because of the violence.
On Saturday, the 26th of August, a 3 judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana High court berated the Haryana and Central government for its inaction. The court stated that the state’s inept actions to be a “political surrender to lure vote banks”. While the blame game has begun, there is no going around the fact that the Haryana government failed to fulfill its primary function- ensuring that the law and order is maintained and the well being of its citizens.
While the past week witnessed some very unfortunate events, it is heartening to see one of the pillars of the Indian democracy performing phenomenally!
Edited by Mrinaal Datt
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