In a democratic society, any and all forms of an institution should be above autonomous. In recent times, there have been several instances in the country where the individual has misused the institution. For instance, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended the fundamental rights of the citizens during the Emergency of 1975, under the justification of controlling anarchist atmosphere. This does not mean that we will again accept versions of her governance, that one black spot on our democracy.
In recent times, many actions and similar justifications have been made by the current government on their functioning: “This was needed to be done,” or “It was necessary to control”. In any mature democracy, there are two other pillars working hand in hand for the sustenance of the democracy; the Judiciary and media. Unfortunately, the reputation of media as one of the pillars of democracy has almost been in a coma for a long time. In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, India ranked 140th out of 180 countries in the world ranking.
In the famous words of LK Advani about the character of media during the Emergency, they “crawled” when we were asked to “bend”. However, his silence is deafening regarding today’s media scenario. I don’t know what he is feeling or how he will justify his own words, which he had once used for 1975.
Censorship in the Indian media has been controversial for quite some time now. We have multiple examples to substantiate this argument. Many TV programs or journalists have been asked to stop their shows, and journalists like Punya Prasoon Bajpai and Abhisar Sharma are examples of this onslaught.
The role of the Judiciary is important for the smooth functioning of any democratic system, but the recent past raises some eyebrows. People have been questioning the independence of the Judiciary. The nomination of the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s nomination for a Rajya Sabha seat has been vehemently criticised by political scholars and commentators, alike. Several other retired judges have raised similar questions. What is the whole purpose of the separation of the Judiciary and the Executive? The role of the Judiciary is to be an ombudsman and not fine-tune with the government of the day.
Many official experts have countered the claim by stating similar incidents undertaken by the previous government. It is a pity to equate someone’s wrong with another’s blunder.