The government of Gujarat has been no stranger to controversy. They recently came under heat again when they indicated that they are trying to re-invite the anti-dissent law within the state assembly, despite their previous years of failed attempts.
The role of the judiciary is to hold the government accountable, make sure it is functioning in accordance with the constitution and to interpret the constitution which allows it to limit the powers of some branches of the government. The judiciary is considered to be an independent body. These positive connotations invoke a sense of security and ensure the implementation of rights amongst the citizens of a country. The supreme court protects the fundamental rights of the people. The anti dissent law that the state of Gujarat has been trying to bring about since early 2000’s goes against just that.
If we look at the current political scenario in India, we have two very starkly different ideologies prevalent in terms of electoral representation. The situation in Gujarat, however, has always been quite different than the wider national interest.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has retained control over Gujarat since 2001, under the leadership of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister. In 2002 the state legislative assembly tried to introduce an anti-dissent law, which to provide context, proposes to allow the police to arrest anybody on mere suspicion, who they seem to be a threat to the state’s internal security. However, it was rejected by the then President, APJ Abdul Kalam. It was again passed in the state assembly when Pratibha Patil held office. Both the presidents rejected the bill as they felt it was unconstitutional and violated basic human rights.
Every citizen in India has the right to representation before a court of law of h/she has been accused of a crime. The anti dissent law gives the state full discretion to arrest anybody on suspicion without trial. The only time when mass arrests have taken place in democratic India on ‘suspicion’ without legal backing have been during the emergency period in 1975. If this law becomes legitimate, it will only facilitate exploitation of the citizens by the state.
The Gujarat government has time and again given a very vague reasoning for bringing about such a draconian law, saying that this is increased efficiency in the state’s internal security. The law also proposes to grant immunity from prosecution to the police and the administration for doing so. This move by the government of Gujarat has been widely criticised by human rights activists, saying that they fail to understand why this extra step needs to be taken when laws and provisions like Preventive Detention already exist and have been successfully implemented in India.
Feature Image Credits: NDTV