A Threat to Democracy

Posted by Anant Chetan
January 19, 2018

These days I come across a lot of articles which say that Indian Democracy is in danger. Recently there was a new incident added in the list, the press conference of four senior Supreme Court Judges. Apparently they had some grievances which were not taken into consideration by the concerned authorities. I am not a professional writer or a lawyer or any intellectual. I am writing this just to get answers to some of the questions that came to my mind when I saw the conference and read the letter.

Even without going into the gory details of injustice done to them, a question comes to my mind. What are four senior experienced judges trying to achieve by a press conference? I am not complaining, I am also not saying if they should have done this or they shouldn’t have done this. After all we live in world’s largest democracy and they have a right to do what they will. I am just trying to understand, what a responsible citizen should do now. Since I now know what is what, should I go ahead find the like-minded people and start a protest? Burn the national property? Since, they surely would have tried all the legal ways like filing a court case against the Chief Justice of Inida, PIL or something, I don’t know much but they definitely would. Or do they have more faith in Media Trials than the court trials?

After going through some of the concerns raised, a second question pops up in my mind, which is scarier than the one mentioned above. If it is government’s doing, then there is a serious issue. If BJP, which is in power only for less than 4 years can do such a thing then what Congress which has been in power for 60 plus years could have or had done? Were the people of the largest democracy living in a fool’s paradise all these years? Thinking, we have a strong and a fair judicial system. Just once the power changed hands for good and the invisible flaws and loopholes became visible. Indians always had a lot of talent and potential but many countries which got independence after India are doing way better than India in terms of Human Development Index. We had a functional democracy; good feasible ideas should have made their way to the top. But instead the talent funneled out to others countries and not surprisingly flourished there.  It all makes sense now. The ones highly corrupt and with strong political clout always won their battles and created an environment conducive to the likes of themselves.

One issue mentioned in the letter is that the assignment of cases to “the preferred benches” by Chief Justice has far reaching consequences for the nation. For a layman, who is not familiar with the judiciary details, it looks more of a question to the Ethics and Integrity of the judges rather than the administration of the court. How can two different judges give two different decisions for the same case? If assigning of the judges can alter the result then what is the authenticity of the verdict given by the court?

Now, since we all know that there is some problem in our judicial system, the last question from my end today is “Can it ever be fixed?” It is not that there is a scarcity of good leaders, social activists, intellectuals and so on. But will they be able to change anything following the rules? Moreover, even if somebody succeeds in changing a particular thing, how would we know if it is not politically motivated and is good for someone in particular but not good for the nation? Because it seems like every single thing has political connections.

Indeed there is some kind of threat or danger, but to what or whom? It certainly is not to the Democracy because it has been there since the independence with the same set of rules and has improved over the years. The people of India cast their votes, they can say whatever they want to say or show whatever they want to show in order to make big bucks. Then how is democracy under threat? The only thing under threat or danger of extinction is the ability to think and ask the right questions. “They” wanted everyone to ask some questions about some issues. Now, some people are blaming or criticizing them, others are supporting or appreciating  them but have stopped saying anything beyond the questions they raised. That’s not it! We have to ask questions, and of-course the right ones. The type of questions we ask will decide how good our nation performs.