From common man’s point of view, Governance means two simple things.
- Can the Government be trusted to guarantee the security of himself and his family?
- Was the Government capable of providing a reasonable livelihood for his family?
While we will take up the second aspiration of the common man in further details in our next article, we shall deal with the first expectation of the common man in the context of last decade of Gujarat in the present article.
Security in context of the Indian constitution means security of all and any elected Government that swears by the constitution must necessarily guarantee equal protection of law to all sections of people. Without entering into the criminal complicity in the 2002 riots, we deal with the constitutional duty of the Government in power. And we do so, not by our yardstick but in the manner in which the Supreme Court itself assessed the Governance of the Modi Government in 2002.
In the case of Zahira Habbibulla H Sheikh vs State of Gujarat (Appeal (crl.) 446-449 of 2004), the observation of the Supreme Court tells the whole story of the famed governance in Gujarat
The role of the State Government also leaves much to be desired. One gets a feeling that there was really no seriousness in the State’s approach in assailing the Trial Court’s judgment. This is clearly indicated by the fact that the first memorandum of appeal filed was an apology for the grounds. A second amendment was done, that too after this Court expressed its unhappiness over the perfunctory manner in which the appeal was presented and challenge made. That also was not the end of the matter. There was a subsequent petition for amendment. All this sadly reflects on the quality of determination exhibited by the State and the nature of seriousness shown to pursue the appeal. Criminal trials should not be reduced to be the mock trials or shadow boxing or fixed trials. Judicial Criminal Administration System must be kept clean and beyond the reach of whimsical political wills or agendas and properly insulated from discriminatory standards or yardsticks of the type prohibited by the mandate of the Constitution.
Supreme Court in conclusion of the Zahira case, transferred the matter to the State of Maharashtra and ordered a retrial. Several accused were punished and awarded life sentences. These were the very accused who had been acquitted by the Trial Court of Gujarat and upheld by the High Court of Gujarat. Soon thereafter, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) filed two cases on the basis of it’s own investigation. The highest statutory commission constituted as a watchdog for upholding the human rights of citizens, sought the intervention of the Supreme Court for the transfer of the riot related cases out of Gujarat. This included the Bilkis Bano case which involved the rape and murder of several members of the minority.
The Supreme Court had promptly transferred the Bilkis Bano case and after trial the accused have been awarded stiff sentences. So far as 9 other major cases of murder and arson, the Supreme Court made special arrangements for them being tried in special courts in Gujarat after appointing a Special Investigation Team led by Raghavan. Except for 2 cases, 7 cases have already been concluded and over 100 accused have been punished that includes the erstwhile Minister of Modi’s Government, Mayaben Kodnani and the Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi. These 9 cases were those in which the mobs burnt down 1000s of houses and men and women of the minority community in different parts of Gujarat with the Government led by Mr Modi watching the pogrom. An extremely anguished Supreme Court had to therefore observe in the Zahira case as under:
The modern day ‘Neros’ were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected. Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.
The matter doesn’t stop there. After 10 years of riots, the Supreme Court continues to have no faith in Modi Government to deliver justice to all. In the case of Sohrabuddin in 2011 and in the case of Tulsiram Prajapati in 2012, the Supreme Court has once again ordered the trial of cases to be transferred out of Gujarat which have now been transferred to the Sessions Court in Mumbai. In the history of post-independent India, never before has the Supreme Court interfered in such a drastic manner to transfer cases for being tried outside the state where the offence has been committed. Such orders show complete loss of faith in the capacity of the Government to prosecute a case fairly and impartially. Such a loss of faith so far as the common man is concerned is a complete breakdown of his constitutional rights of equal protection of law.
It is not only the discrimination against the minorities that stares at our face, but the total injustice that is being done against all other oppressed sections of people that has become the story of the day. In Thangadh, the police in cold blood fired with AK-47 rifles into a rally of dalit villagers who were coming to protest against the murder of one of their colleagues by the PSI of the police station a few hours earlier. The Government sent a huge contingent lead by their SP who shot and killed 2 more dalit’s on the spot.
Few hundred farmer’s have committed suicide due to huge debt trap with Modi continuing to behave as Nero. The story goes on and on, but suffice is to remember that it’s not just the common man, but the highest court of this land which has lost faith in the justice delivery system in the State of Gujarat and between 2002-2012, the Supreme Court has transferred cases out of Gujarat as it believed that there was no hope for the victims to get justice in Gujarat.
Would you like India to become another Gujarat?