Opinion: We need a fresh Quit India Movement

Shafeeq R. Mahajir

Those who want to stultify the Constitution and render enshrined guarantees nugatory, must quit India. Why? Well, they must quit because they want to run a Quiet India Movement.

Consider. Speech is dangerous. A tweet lands you in hot water. A forward leads to incarceration. And anyone opposing whatever the powers that be postulate risks being locked up. Yeh koi baath hai?

Logic is passé and large prevails. More so because whatever the powers that be postulate is… well, a recent report about a gentleman who is presently a member of a house claims that he has (allegedly) said that NRC, about which the entire country was fairly incensed till recently, is …only a game! My, My! The title of the book comes to mind: Games People Play!

The report about the gentleman claims that he has (allegedly) said that no political party wants the NRC! Considering that the gentleman is a former high ranking individual, one would be justified in concluding that he knows what he is talking about. Considering that the gentleman has the favour of the party, one may be excused for imagining he knows what the party holds as its actual view in the matter. And considering that a leading member of that political party had occasion to mention that certain statements were not to be taken literally, one can be forgiven for concluding that the entire exercise costing the Exchequer God knows how much, costing the affected citizens God knows how much and which traumatised God knows how many, was a… game.

If it was not a game, then (sorry but I do not understand politics: I am using only logic here) the gentleman is (allegedly) saying something that is not true, which is a very surprising thing to even contemplate.  If it was in fact a game, then one comes full circle back to ask some questions that seem to trouble less potent minds, like mine of course.

Was it not a game? If it was not, will someone in the ruling establishment take issue with the person who (allegedly, mind you) claimed it was? If he too did not, will someone in the ruling establishment take issue with the person who claimed in the report that he did? If the NRC was a game, who planned it, why, with what objective, when? Who prepared the rules for the game, and was he/she or were they not aware the citizens would be the pawns?

If it was a game, and the public Exchequer saw large sums spent with no real intended benefit for the country, will any audit be directed towards the matter? But how can one take what the gentleman said, literally, considering that one report was: Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, 04-April-2018 19:23 IST, Cabinet approves revised cost estimates of the scheme of updation (sic) of National Register of Citizens, 1951 in Assam: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by PM has approved the Revised Cost Estimates (RCE) of the scheme of Updation (sic) of National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 in Assam at a cost of Rs. 1220.93 crore up to 31.12.2018  and considering another reports was: Assam citizens list excluded people spent Rs.7,836 crore (NDTV, 28 August 2019) ? Games played do not feature in Cabinet Committees on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Ministers. So, it cannot be a game. Then why was it called one? Is the calling it a game, the game? The mind boggles.

A former chief justice also said something that nearly game me…sorry, gave me, a cardiac arrest (this I saw and heard as a video clip of the Conclave 2021) : he said you need to train up judges, remind them theirs is not a 9 to 5 job, they have a commitment to the nation…but then he went on to say grand judicial academies (he visited one in Bhopal, I think he said) are teaching about Law of the Sea, Law of Oceans…nothing about judicial ethics, nothing about judicial morality, or how to write judgements, or how to conduct court proceedings…

So, the needed but absent things are… judicial ethics, judicial morality, how to write judgements, and how to conduct court proceedings. And if these are the things that need to be taught, then one would be forgiven for concluding, considering that that is needed to be taught which is not presently part of the student’s knowledge bank, that judges lack in these areas. No, I did not say that. It is a conclusion that is inescapable considering who said it, and where.

And if the Courts today are featuring judges who need to be taught judicial ethics, judicial morality, how to write judgements, and how to conduct court proceedings, then it is safe to draw another conclusion: that people screened at the time they are appointed as judges face a flawed screening procedure.

Worse, the people who craft and structure the course content at judicial academies are at sea, even while teaching the Law of the Sea. Their course content does not include the stuff which the former chief justice has identified as the needed content, which means all that infrastructure, all those man hours, all those faculty payments…down the drain?

Back to politics…and …. ? Money Control reports (Feb 11, 2021, 06:07 pm IST) a politician told certain farmers Rs.18,000/- will be credited to their accounts if a political party comes to power. He is reported to have once in the past said something about statements being made for public consumption are different from a commitment, these statements being mere statements are not intended to be relied upon.

Yet, a question comes to mind: would such a statement amount to inducement… cash for votes… like, you know, you vote my party I give you fifty bucks? Either there is something I don’t understand about electoral laws and what is lawful and not, or the laws have been changed since.

Yet it also strikes me that if these statements being mere statements are not intended to be relied upon, then do political heavyweights say things they do not intend to execute, make promises not intending to carry them out? If so, what of the Indian Contract Act that, vide Sec.17, says fraud “means and includes any of the following acts committed by a party to a contract… a promise made without any intention of performing it…”?

Let me answer my own question: it is just a statement not meant to be taken seriously so it is not a promise. When it is not even a promise it can hardly be enforced, as only a promise enforceable at law can be a contract. Therefore this legal hair-splitting will not apply, and one need not make a mountain out of a molehill. Especially, when there is a Quiet India Movement on. One, that needs to be extended to cover all aggression, usurping, demonising and defaming of any section, and damping down any overenthusiastic slanted policy as well as policing.

Jai Hind.

Shafeeq R. Mahajir is a well-known lawyer based in Hyderabad. Views expressed are personal.

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