India

Are we Living in a Democracy or Not?

Shahnawaz Alam for BeyondHeadlines

In his second letter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Justice Katju expresses the notion of the country regarding the illegal arrest of two innocents whose liberty as at stake.

Earlier today, Justice Katju sent an email to the state chief minister questioning the steps taken by the government against the delinquent police men. Chief Minister overlooked the mail and only forwarding it to someone Amitabh Ranjan without responding. This inaction has probably invoked justice katju to write another mail reminding him the seriousness of the matter.

“You have not replied to my email but only forwarded it to someone called Amitabh Rajan, whom I do not know, and who has not had the courtesy to respond to me. Please realize that the matter is much too serious to be taken in this cavalier manner, because the principle of liberty is at stake. The entire nation wants to know what action you have taken. I would therefore request you to immediately let me know what you are doing in this matter,” states Justice Katju in his second letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra.

The anger of the people on social networking site has succeeded in bringing the issue into the horizons of the mainstream media. The silence of Maharashtra government would certainly rise many questions and distrust among the netizen. One may or may not agree to the previous remarks of Justice Katju, but here he has raised a valid question of national concern.

He additionally questions the Maharashtra chief minister that “Are we living in a democracy or not? How can a person be arrested for objecting to the shutdown in Mumbai on Thackeray’s death ? Article 21 of the Constitution, to uphold which you have taken an oath, states that no one can be deprived of his life or liberty except in accordance with law. Does Article 21 not exist in Maharashtra? Does freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) also not exist in your state?”

Here is the full text of first letter from Justice Katju to CM, Maharashtra:

To,
The Chief Minister
Maharashtra

Dear Chief Minister,

I am forwarding an email I have received stating that a woman in Maharashtra has been arrested for protesting on Facebook against the shut down in Mumbai on the occasion of the death of Mr. Bal Thackeray. It is alleged that she has been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

To my mind it is absurd to say that protesting against a bandh hurts religious sentiments. Under Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution freedom of speech is a guaranteed fundamental right . We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship. In fact this arrest itself appears to be a criminal act since under sections 341 and 342 it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime.

Hence if the facts reported are correct, I request you to immediately order the suspension, arrest, chargesheeting and criminal prosecution of the police personnel (however high they may be) who ordered as well as implemented the arrest of that woman, failing which I will deem it that you as Chief Minister are unable to run the state in a democratic manner as envisaged by the Constitution to which you have taken oath, and then the legal consequences will follow

 Regards

 Justice Katju
(Chairman, Press Council of India, and former Judge, Supreme Court of India)

Here is the full text of second letter from Justice Katju to CM, Maharashtra:

Dear Chief Minister,

You have not replied to my email but only forwarded it to someone called Amitabh Rajan, whom I do not know, and who has not had the courtesy to  respond to me. Please realize that the matter is much too serious to be taken in this cavalier manner, because the principle of liberty is at stake.The entire nation wants to know what action you have taken. I would therefore request you to immediately let me know what you are doing in this matter.

Are we living in a democracy or not ? How can a person be arrested for objecting to the shutdown in Mumbai on Thackeray’s death ? Article 21 of the Constitution, to uphold which you have taken an oath, states that no one can be deprived of his life or liberty except in accordance with law. Does Article 21 not exist in Maharashtra ? Does freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) also not exist in your state ?

Please realize that silence is not an option for you in the matter. The entire nation is furious at this apparently illegal arrest. Therefore I once again request you to tell me, and through me the entire nation, why this arrest of a woman was made in Mumbai just for putting up an apparently innocuous material on the Facebook, and what action you have taken against the delinquent policemen and others involved in this high handedness and blatant misuse of state machinery

Regards

Justice Katju

 

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