Bulldozer injustice to ‘teach a lesson’

News: In recent times, a fringe but influential national spokesperson has been alleged for inciting violence by saying something offensive about the Prophet.

Laws in India

The Constitution of India permits only a peaceful assembly without arms. Violence in protests cannot be justified under any circumstances.

There are adequate provisions in the Indian Penal Code for the police to act against any violator.

Trends of bulldozer justice in India

Persons accused of far lesser offences have attracted stringent charges against them. They have been subjected to stringent laws such as the Sedition law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the National Security Act (NSA) or the Public Safety Act.

For example, In the law on sedition, the SC has made it clear that the one inciting violence is the guilty person. However, in today’s interpretation of the law, it does not matter whether there is incitement or not; a charge of sedition will be slapped anyway if anything which is said is not liked by the government.

However, the law does not take its course against an influential fringe or well-connected person who has committed an offence. For example, senseless mob lynching and offensive saying against the Prophet.

In general, the government comes down on the violent protesters with a heavy hand with an iron fist. For example, recently, the governments have used bulldozers to demolish the residential premises of those allegedly involved in violent protests.

Javed’s House Demolition Case

In the Javed House demolition case, the government has resorted to a lot of arbitrariness. For example; (1) first, the state collected taxes for the so-called illegal construction, and later issued order for its demolition, (2) the demolition order was delivered on Saturday night and the demolition took place on Sunday morning, which was a government holiday.  Therefore, giving no time to challenge the correctness of the demolition order in a court of law or file an appeal.

In another case, the Uttar Pradesh police sent two persons to judicial custody for almost two months on no charges at all.

Argument Against such a move

In Avas Evam Vikas Parishad vs Friends Coop. Housing Society Ltd (1996) and in Chameli Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh (1996), the Supreme Court of India has held that “The right to shelter is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India”.

The Way Forward

The government should conform to well-settled principle like requiring state action to be just, fair and reasonable mandates.

First, the state should adequately compensate the victims for their loss and the mental distress caused.

The officers concerned in the decision making at all levels must be held accountable and punished enough to ‘teach them a lesson’.

The government should work upon building accountability jurisprudence in India and the culture of impunity should be banished.

Source: The post is based on an article “Bulldozer injustice to ‘teach a lesson’ published in the Indian Express on 17th June 2022.

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