No doubt Pakistan is going through difficult times. And difficult times bring out the true character of people, and Institutes. The world is getting a better understanding of the true characters of General Parvez Musharraf whose sole objective of emergency was to gag the Supreme Court. The General ousted the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, along with a large majority of his colleagues, who stood by values than bowed to guns. 

And the whole judicial fraternity comprising a large number of lawyers did actively support Justice Chaudhry, while facing batons in the hands of the General in Pakistan, again and again.  

India and Pakistan has traditionally been in a race to the bottom. However at this critical juncture, along with the world, India also salutes this spirit of the judiciary in Pakistan. 

India is traditionally rated as a more stable democracy. The various Institutes that support Indian democracy apparently didn’t face the autocratic military challenges often, barring one single event of Emergency in 1977.  It too was politically misused, and not military being of unruly type.

However ground realities of situations in India do not present that rosy picture, at least not always. Take for example Nandigram, which did hit media headlines back in March this year where many farmers died and many women were raped in their battle against forceful land acquisition practices of the State, for the purpose of setting up SEZs to have fast tract industrialization. 

Those people, who suffered in the hands of the culprits, did visit every-one in Indian democracy to get justice. They visited police; they visited the state Governor and many more who are supposed to be accountable for that fateful mess. The Kolkata High Court even did order a CBI probe, and CBI also unearthed few evidences within a short period. But then there was a debate whether the Kolkata High Court is empowered as per the nitty-gritty’s of law to order a CBI probe. Apparently the case has been pending in the Supreme Court. (Please follow When the choice is between the Constitution or Innocent Lives)

And most of us at least have not yet heard anything more on the status of the last case. Whether the case is in ‘Cold Storage’ or in Supreme Court is left for any to decide. In Indian democracy, the nitty-gritty matters more than the lives of the innocent civilians, more so when they are ordinary citizens. And no one is sure how many more deaths in Nandigram would stir these various pillars of Indian democracy to action, independent Judiciary being one of them. Matter of fact is, the case is buried until more fateful burials in Nandigram take place. 

And in last couple of days, there has again been a repeat of violence as it happened on 14th March in Nandigram. In between these eight months, many more died. The lawlessness, which even the state administration has admitted to be ‘war-like situation’, has been there for nearly last eight months, in front of the eyes of the pillars of Indian democracy.   

And all the elements of Indian democracy has allowed ‘Might is Right’ to be tested once again in the turfs of Nandigram with innocent lives keeping Indian Constitution somewhere in a sacrosanct place. Sadly, at least in this case, Judiciary is also involved as more bloods get shed in Nandigram. And in-spite of the deadly silence and delay of the Judiciary in this case, for many citizens in India, Judiciary is the last hope. 

And in Nandigram, Judiciary has allowed this last hope to be killed, at least as of now, by not providing justice to the victims of last carnage of 14th March; and thereby emboldening the culprits to carry out more carnage. That’s expected, and that’s happening now. More and more people are dying everyday in Nandigram.

The New York Times, in an article on Pakistan titled ‘Pakistani Lawyers’ Anger Grew as Hope for Changes Withered’ quoted a lawyer ‘“When the Supreme Court started acting like an independent institution for the first time in 60 years, they came down very hard (whereas), in the past, the Supreme Court had always connived with the establishment and the military.”’ And another lawyer asked ‘“How do you function as a lawyer when the law is what the general says it is?”’

Would someone from the pillars of Indian democracy please inform the people of Nandigram what law is for them? Let it even be the words of a General, but let there be a law for the people of Nandigram. Or is Indian democracy effectively telling the suffering people of Nandigram to knock on every possible door seeking justice and protection before they too get killed/raped? The bottom-line of Indian democracy is an absolute lack of accountability when it comes to ordinary people by not doing anything or even worsening the situation; and a war-footing over accountability beyond the legal limit when it involves someone influential.

Churchill was of the opinion that justice should be more from morality angle and less from legality angle; more so for a country like India where many poor, illiterate people may not understand legal terms and their implications. Judiciary, by sitting on the case of Nandigram for months when the carnage continues on ground and all the other pillars of democracy settles score, has effectively allowed the moral angle of justice to be compromised again by the legal angle of justice.

It’s high time that India and Pakistan stop racing to the bottom. And the beginning can start with Indian Supreme Court acting truly like an independent Institute that’s not afraid of the power-politics of poor governance of South Asia, as the failed Supreme Court of Pakistan showed its success in its failure, morally and legally.

The above article is not meant to criticise or dishonor in any way the Honorable Supreme Court of India. It is a desparate attempt of a citizen to draw the attention of judiciary on the events of Nandigram, so that law and order can be restored in Nandigram at the earliest, and the culprits are brought to justice.

Ranjit Goswami is a research scholar with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India; and is the author of the book “Wondering Man, Money & Go(l)d’“.

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