Will Slapping Draconian Laws such as NSA Act worked for the citizens upholding the values of democratic values and deter the fence sitting Media bodies to towed the lines of Governmental diktats. ???
By : Rajesh Khongbantabam
The pertinent question that normally pegged citizens in a local hotel for a morning tea has of late been a hot topic for discussion although a sympathetic tone is being observed in every conversation.
“Yes, he did use the 4 letter words which is totally uncalled for, could’ve been avoided but then, NSA detention is too harsh”. Manipur, a land not new to Civil unrest, Insurgency, Arbitrary detention, Fake encounters, and with gross violation of Human Rights summing it all up, have some or the other in a locality having this nasty experience of being incarcerated under the same inhumane act or a narration about some of their near and dear ones having to through this traumatic detention – What exactly is this so much dreaded NSA Act.?
Simply in a laymen terms, the same NSA provides for the detention of a person for three months at a time and for a maximum period of 12 months and still sub-section (3) of section 3 provides that a detention order may be amended, if felt necessary by the state government, “To extend such period [of detention] from time to time by any period not exceeding 3 months at any one time” – Effectively implying indefinitely. Further, Section 14 (2) explicitly provides that “The revocation or expiry of a detention order shall not bar the making of a fresh detention order under section 3 against the same person”. And the grounds for making such a fresh detention order need be nothing more than the fact that the “Central government or state government or any officer mentioned in sub section (3) of section (3), as the case may be, is satisfied that such an order should be made”.
Living aside the technical legalities, what actually is the implication of a Citizens’ discussing over a cup of tea and snacks is all about?
“It’s meant for hard core insurgents, who’re quite a problematic for Authorities such as having the liberty of taking bail too frequent or of someone who is amongst the leadership too important for the authorities not to let go off the hook”.
“After all, even then not all the outlaws insurgent are detained under the same act”.
Well then, what exactly has this preventive detention been at the center of issues that’s left, right and center? Is it merely to act as a tool against “Dissenters” to dissuade the same others from following the trends or trails?
Looking back towards the historical episode, Sardar Vallabhai Patel introduced the preventive detention act in 1950, and thus started the saga of colonial measures in post colonial India. Sanctified by the very constitution meant to protect the citizen from the whims of those in power, Laws like NSA provide the executive tools to escape the scrutiny of the judiciary.
More often than not, preventive laws are used by the Ruling party against their Opposition. Personal Liberty is the mainstay of Dissent and Dissent is the bed rock of the democracy. If we desire the democracy to survive and thrive, it is time we do away with preventive detention laws. These are supposed to be war measures and today, at least there is no war – except the one the government is waging against anyone who is dissenting, criticizing and showing distastefulness.
Rather, it is used as an unconstitutional measure to deprive an individual of their constitutional rights violating the basic jurisprudence; the accused must be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, and the onus of the prosecution to prove the guilt remains the same.
The National Security Act (NSA) – which was first promulgated as an ordinance and few months later legislated by the parliament in 1980 – is a preventive detention law which has been used time and again to deprive an individual of their constitutional rights violating the basic tenets that the accused must be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way round.
Tracing the preventive detention to the early days of colonial rule, the then enactment of Bengal State prisoners’ regulation III of 1818 allowed detention without trial. Later on it was extended to other provinces and finally taking the shape of Defense of India acts of 1915, justified as World War I measures. It was a measure of indefinite detention, incarceration without any provision for trial or judicial reviews which again were indefinitely extended under the Rowland Act of 1919.
The Jallianwalla Bagh massacre ordered by General Dyer was against the “dissenters” flouting the Rowland Act.
Recently, on September 14, Chandrasekhar Azad, the 31 years old lawyer and a firebrand Dalit leader walked out of Saharanpur Jail after spending 15 months behind bar under the same NSA Act, slapped by the U.P. Chief Minister and his stint in Jail under NSA, “Preventive Detention” as it were, had led to a widespread agitation garnering international headlines, despite the Allahabad High Court granting him bail on November 2, 2017 and terming his arrest as “Politically Motivated”, Chandra Sekhar Azad was again slapped with charges under preventive detention by the BJP administration of U.P. under the National Security Act on the next day and was kept under detention for 10 months, only to be released on September 14. After his released, he said – that he had become an eyesore to the BJP after he prevented a clash between the Dalits and the Muslims orchestrated by the ruling BJP.
A few days ago, Journalist Kishorechandra AKA Wangkhemcha Wangthoi was arrested under the provision of the same National Security Act for a Face Book video post abusing or accusing (it’s all about perception) the Manipur Chief Minister N.Biren Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and their party by questioning the relevance of Rani of Jhansi in the context of Manipur. This came just days after he was set free by a court from charges including sedition for the same crime – but it’s not the first time, the same Journalist has found himself in trouble for a social media post, in August 2018, Kishorechandra had been already arrested for inciting hatred between communities (At least that’s what the Authority perceived) after expanding BJP as “Buddhu Joker Party”. And it’s still not clear which community might have felt offended by this terminology, sometimes pondering if indeed Buddhu Jokers are an Indian community. ? The Misuse/Abuse of draconian provision of Law – including the charge of sedition and the National Security Act – for something as relatively minor as a Facebook post abusing or criticizing a couple of politicians is something one associates more with regimes such as North korea, China, Saudi Arabia than with India, the nation that pride itself as the World’s largest Democracy. If abusing or criticizing politician on social media is a threat to national Security, then a few lakhs of supporters of different parties, including the BJP, would need to be arrested everyday and the prison has to be as large as the planet itself. And in any case, the bulk of online abuser is in any case spewed by so called Right Wing handles on Twitter. Right Wing leaders such as Subramaniam Swamy, routinely and consistently calls rival politicians as Buddhu, Jokers and worst. None of them ever ends up in Jail for sedition leave alone an FIR – And that’s how it should be in a Democracy that promotes Freedom of Speech and Expression.