Two chief ministers have publicly confessed that they cannot maintain law and order in their respective states.
In Tamil Nadu a film produced by Mr. Kamal Haasan that was cleared and certified by the Censor Board was banned by the government because some leaders representing a minority community having five per cent population in the state threatened to agitate against its screening. Chief Minister Miss Jayalalithaa said that the police could not protect 465 cinema halls in the state. Later, she succeeded in persuading Mr. Haasan to delete portions of the film to allow its screening. To maintain law and order the government deprived Mr. Haasan of his legal rights because it expressed its inability to handle disorder threatened by critics who did not like his film.
If there is breakdown in law and order in any state the duty of the President and the Governor is clear. The elected government must be suspended and Governor’s rule imposed through a Presidential order in the state.
In West Bengal Chief Minister Miss Mamata Banerjee prevented author Mr. Salman Rushdie from a cultural event planned with film producer Miss Deepa Mehta. Both Mr. Rushdie and Miss Mehta are law abiding citizens. They were banned entry into Kolkata because the state government feared agitation by their critics. Trinamul government minister Mr. Saugata Roy explained on a TV channel that 100 people had gathered at the airport to protest against Mr. Rushdie’s arrival. Therefore, he argued, the government was justified in taking steps to avoid disorder.
Neither Miss Jayalalithaa nor Miss Banerjee alleged any wrongdoing by the law abiding citizens whose liberty was curtailed. Both chief ministers justified their actions by admitting that their respective governments feared the consequences arising from threats leveled by citizens who did not like Mr. Haasan and Mr. Rushdie respectively.
In other words both chief ministers publicly admitted that they were coerced into acting against law abiding citizens because of threats by critics. Because the chief ministers could not handle those who threatened to take the law into their own hands they deprived the rights of citizens who lived within the law. Both chief ministers by their actions have created a precedent for others to coerce the government with threats in order to have their way. Not surprisingly, some observers calculate that the conduct of Muslims and the governments in both states have greatly boosted Mr. Narendra Modi’s prospects of becoming prime minister.
The question arises: in the light of these events has not the law and order machinery broken down in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu? The chief ministers of both states have virtually admitted that they can be coerced into depriving law abiding citizens of their legal rights by coercive elements threatening to take the law into their own hands. If there is breakdown in law and order in any state the duty of the President and the Governor is clear. The elected government must be suspended and Governor’s rule imposed through a Presidential order in the state. By a Supreme Court ruling the Governor is in no manner subservient or accountable to the Union cabinet. The Governor is accountable only to the President.
Why does President Mukherjee not seek reports from both Governors regarding the law and order situation in their respective states? Why does the President not act? He owes it to tax-payers to protect law-abiding citizens.