A few days back honourable Chief Justice of India made a statement addressing the Government of India….”Take appropriate action…or else we will have to take action…”.
The concern was well appreciated since the incident was disgusting. Similar incidents happened earlier in West Bengal and Rajasthan but they were Congress/TMC ruled states and hence everybody was confident that the state is in safe hands where as Manipur state Government is with BJP and hence it needed to be criticised. We accept this as the norm of India.
But it cannot be said that the comment of the CJI was appropriate and the Supreme Court could threaten the Government. Did the threat imply that the Supreme Court would dismiss the Central Government? Could it impose its own Court monitored rule on Manipur? Could it order the arrest of Manipur CM for dereliction of duty? Could it censure Mr Amit Shah the Home Minister.. ?
Obviously in India, it is not possible for the Courts to impose emergency. The Supreme Court can only validate the emergency imposed by persons like Indira Gandhi and as long as history recognizes that Indira Gandhi imposed emergency, we also need to recognize that the Supreme Court validated the declared emergency.
Despite the ability to assume powers to re-write constitution even by a split verdict, Supreme Court should consider itself to be answerable to the people of India and has to respect the Parliament as the voice of the people. Supreme Court can also allow a system of national referendum over such issues where the Supreme Court differs with the Parliament so that people can express their views.
Following this development, Mr Badri Seshadri a senior citizen in Chennai (If I remember right, he founded Cricinfo.com which was later taken over by ESPN) was interviewed by a You Tube channel in which he commented
“The SC has said that if you cannot do anything, we will. Let’s give a gun to Chandrachud and send him there. Let’s see if he can restore peace.”
Based on a complaint made by a lawyer Kaviyarasu of Kadur Village, Badri Seshadri was promptly arrested and the Magistrate remanded him to 11 days Judicial Custody.
I am not sure if Badri Seshadri can be called a serious Political commentator as has been described by the media and the comment made by him was worthy of being considered an offence under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with the intention to create riot), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and 505 1(b) (with intent to cause or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code.
One will need extraordinary genius to interpret these sections and fit it into the statement made by Mr Badri.
It is obvious that the Police wanted to place Mr Badri in jail for some reason and used this excuse. This is gross violation of the power of the Police to cause arrest. If the comment is considered “Defamatory” to the CJI, the CJI should have instituted a “Contempt of Court Proceedings” and not allow cases to be booked under Sections 153, 153A etc. Where is an intention to create riot or promote enmity between different groups etc? only God and Tamil Nadu Police and the Magistrate knows.
I am reminded of the Palghar incident some time back where two Muslim girls were arrested by the Shivasena led Government for “Clicking the Like Button” on Face Book about a post on deceased Bal Thackeray. At that time the whole country was up in arms against the arrest and ultimately the Supreme Court changed the law itself to express its displeasure on the arrest.
Now we have a similar situation here and the matter is closer to the Supreme Court since the defamation of CJI is the cause of the arrest.
As long as Justice Chandrachud remains silent on the arrest, it means that he endorses the arrest. When he can take Suo moto cognizance of violence in Manipur, summon Tushar Mehta ,demand action from the Government and threaten dissolution like action, can he not at least make a statement whether the arrest of Badri is a violation of the “Freedom of Speech” or not? This case should be considered as a personal case in which CJI is interested and hence his action or in-action will be deemed to communicate his views.
This is not just an issue which the BJP in Tamil Nadu should fight. This is an issue where Police are interpreting the law to their own convenience and the Judiciary by its selective silence encouraging such action. People like Prashant Bhushan and Kapil Sibal may not come in to defend when an ordinary citizen is wronged though they may happily walk in other cases. It is a national issue to be fought by all who respect or claim to respect Freedom of Speech.
I therefore request honourable chief justice of India, Mr D Y Chandrachud to react to the arrest and either lodge his own Contempt complaint or demand that the FIR be withdrawn.
In the meantime the Madras High Court should take Suo Moto cognizance of the illegal arrest and provide relief. Even the DGP of Tamil Nadu can perhaps intervene and set things right if he wants.
While the investigation may continue even against the sections the Police have filed, at least the Court can order immediate release of Mr Badri under bail since we know that Courts give bail in many terror cases also without battling its eyelid. There is no investigation to be done by keeping the accused under arrest when the you tube video is available in the public.
If Democracy in India is under threat, it is these incidents that have to be noted as the incidents of murder of Democracy. I wish there was a national referendum on issues like this so that people’s views could be taken before Police excess being committed against citizens of the country.
I wish the New York times the terrorist friendly journalists of Wire and other similar journals some of them are in the heart of Chennai respond fairly to this incident or accept the criticism that they are all George Soros funded members of the Tukde Tukde India gang.