We don’t need Tyranny of anyone in democracy: elected or ‘Un-elected’

(The Asian Independent)

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

In the last few weeks we saw some hard hitting ‘statements’ made by some big legal names. The Solicitor General of India, Mr Tushar Mehta made many allegation accusing some former judges, some high courts and senior lawyers for trying to ‘influence’ the court. It is the same gentleman who spoke that there is no migration crisis in India and everything has been handled so well. Mehta Saheb these days are upset with high courts and many lawyers have raised the issue of public litigation.Another big luminary jumped in and accused that ‘un-elected’ people are trying to run the government through Supreme Court. His point was that there is a PIL syndicate and these people criticise the judges on social media and if the judgement does not come along with their line of thinking then they start blaming the judges. This legal luminary also said that this is ‘tyranny of un-elected’ which put motive to every judge who are blamed. Now, according to him that there is nothing wrong in criticising Supreme Court but the issue comes when we put motive to judges when the judgement is not as per our choice.

This has come at the time when Supreme Court faced severe criticism from our former judges like Justice Markandey Katju, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice A P Shah. Many senior advocates of the bar too have been critical. Unlike Supreme Court, high courts of various states have been able to take up cases related to migrant workers and gave various order.

Now the term being used against human rights defenders and those who have filed various litigation that they are imposing ‘tyranny of unelected’. Now this is really serious. Being elected does not give any one authority to trample with the constitution or law of the land. Actually, leaders are elected so that they make laws as per the wishes of the people but at the same point of time, it is the people based on their quality and experience that they join various services of the executive though judiciary is an autonomous institution. You cant have elected people to monitor everything. Elected people are not given authority to change the constitution or violate the human rights. Elected people are basically trustees to protect our rights. They are elected to look after our rights so that various arms of the executive dont become dominant and violent on people. But unfortunately, the executive and political class are serving each others interests and people have been left far behind. Now we can comfortably say that other institutions too have joined the executive in following the diktats of the government. How will rights of the people be protected.

Our Courts have enormous powers and it is not for common people to criticise the courts even when they get frustrated because of the processes to get justice. We all have on some point of time seen the processes and feel deeply disturbed at the things and time it take to get justice. Many places adjournment are frequents but the fault does not lie with judges but also with the lawyers too. There may be various lobbies working and we know in to days time there are pulls and pressures everywhere. Big lawyers can twists things accordingly so one day they may be fighting the cases of one side and can do the exactly opposite on some other day. Political leaders do the same thing and those who cant adjust according to time become outdated.

It is also a fact that laws are being used to frame people as well as to intimidate them. Those who have access and are privileged can get thing done but those who are common person find it difficult. Freedom of Expression argument could be used to protect Arnab Goswami and others who have been abusing the same freedom but all others who questions various acts of the government anti people dont have the luxury of the same and only see various cases piling against them. It will take years and lots of pains and pressure to get out of that unless Supreme Court take an initiative and order assessment of cases filed against all those who have been charged being anti national just because they spoke some thing or participated in a protest.

In the name of ‘elected’ or ‘national sentiments’ not everything can be allowed to be done. Minorities are the easiest target when such narratives are build up. In multicultural societies, things are becoming difficult because democratic governments are fast turning majoritarian. Sorry to say, I dont believe they are nationalist as they only serve the business interest of a tiny clique at the expense of the majority. The religious minorities become the easiest target of their vilification campaign apart from the marginalised communities who are victims of age old prejudices. In 1975, Mrs Indira Gandhi imposed emergency on the country and our fundamental rights were also withdrawn which was a clear case of violating the constitution. Some of the judges stood against that and we all appreciate them, quote them and honor them but if the same thing happen today, we accuse ‘unelected’ pushing the agenda. Remember Indira Gandhi had brute majority but justice Jag Mohan Lal Sinha called her at the Allahabad High Court and declared her election invalid. Can it happen in today’s time. Can we see any political leader face a strong court injunction on todays time. Do we expect that to be followed up. Will there be no war of words at the TV Studios. So Jag Mohan Lal Sinha’s judgment is called as upholding the values of the constitution and not tyranny of ‘unelected’.

It is therefore important that we need people who look beyond electoral gains and that is why people holding important constitutional position should not take further assignment after retirement. If the Supreme Court judges, media persons, Election Commissioners, Lokayuktas, government servants take assignment after retirement without a cool off period then there is bound to be clash of ‘interest’. How can we expect them to behave impartially if some one is going to be adviser of a private corporation or an institution after retirement.

Good that our ‘experts’ ‘respect’ elected representatives and their rights. I hope the same experts also speak about those arrested in J & K and their rights. Three Former chief ministers were arrested under draconian laws and large number of political leaders who were actually have faith in the Indian Constitutions, were arrested. It need people’s representative who can speak about their issues and resolve it.

Democracy need strong check and balances. It is sad that such things are happening to derail the due process of law. Filing cases in the court to get thing redressed is not unconstitutional. There may be lobby groups but there are genuine interest groups. They might not be powerful and many do not even get lawyers to file their cases. India need to come out of this elitism. We are still individual focused and it is time we define things categorically so that each one of us can access law of the land without any hindrance and not influenced by the powerful people. If our autonomous institutions are powerful only then our democracy will remain protected otherwise it will be the tyranny of the elected. We dont need any kind of tyranny whether of elected or unelected people. We need democracy and equality for all.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
June 3rd,2020