Monday, February 11, 2013

The State in a hurry


I am among those who feel the Afzal Guru case was a fit one for retrial or reconsideration given the doubts raised about some shortcomings in the trial and ought to have been given a fresh look. But the law being law finally prevails, this way or that, and it did. The nation's conscience was without any doubt shaken by the terror attack on the parliament building but the question can be asked as why the same conscience is not jolted out of sleep when we hear that some of the lawmakers sitting inside the same building are facing some serious criminal charges, including rape and murder.

I strongly believe that the State should not decide matters on the basis of political exigency and / or as a populist gesture. In fact, in a democracy, rule of law ought to be the guiding factor in all public matters. Public referendum should be resorted to if the law becomes helpless or obsolete with changing times. For the law to be equitable and just it has to be the same for all citizens irrespective of their political or religious affiliations.

This particular case has thrown up another challenge at our democratic system. Should President of the Republic be given limitless latitude to decide matters of this nature? Technically, President is above law but to my mind he is not absolute. As a citizen of this country (in fact first citizen) he / she has certain duties to discharge. If a President sits on a file for five or more years I think this democracy should find a way to ask for an explanation.

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