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After the Rape … India Ripe for Revolution?
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
First it was corruption. Now it is crime. It was a particularly inhuman crime of rape that broke the back of Indian tolerance.
There have been innumerable cases of rape and other crimes as horrendous as what happened recently to the 23 year old girl who battles for her life in a Delhi hospital. But this case was the last straw. Something snapped in the Indian consciousness. Educated Indians, students, women and activists are tumbling out in the streets across the nation to protest. They demand justice. They want change.
However they seem confused about the kind of change required.
For the most part there is demand for harsher laws and the introduction of capital punishment for rape. People want the rapists to be hanged. Others caution against capital punishment. They say that civilized states should not kill criminals but reform them. This approach is widely shared in western nations. Many Indians influenced by Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence agree.
Spiritual values unite inspirers of religious movements.
However, whatever the kind of laws that need to be introduced the truth is that the most urgent reform required will come about not through introducing new and harsher laws but by ensuring that existing laws are implemented and the courts deliver speedy justice to those charged. Existing laws are for the most part adequate. The implementation of law is dreadfully inadequate. Courts clogged with untried cases take decades to deliver judgment. Fast track courts for dealing with just rape cases will not suffice. The nation needs speedy time bound justice across the board for all legal disputes. It is achievable through radical judicial reform.
This is not the time and place to explain how. The underpaid, badly trained police force recruited through corruption quite often commits crime instead of preventing it. Protesters in Arab nations have an obvious goal to aspire for. They seek democracy because they have none. But what goal might India’s revolutionaries seek?
It has been stated in these columns earlier and I state it again. The solution exists in our Constitution that was distorted from day one. According to it the President is the sole authority, with Governors in all states appointed and accountable solely to him, entrusted with the ultimate responsibility to ensure that law, procedure and Constitution are implemented in letter and spirit. The President is the only official under solemn oath to preserve and protect law and Constitution. If the President discharges this single responsibility all governance would dramatically improve. Corruption, crime and terrorism can occur only when some law or procedure is violated. The observance of all laws is the single panacea for addressing all lapses in governance. If the President, already empowered by the Constitution and under oath to deliver it, were to comply the office would be transformed into a Super Lokpal ensuring good governance in all departments of the administration. This, then, is the prime issue that needs to be addressed. The enactment of new laws can wait.
It should be clear from this statement that Ambedkar opted for the parliamentary system not for eliminating the executive role of the President but to make it more accountable. What Ambedkar envisaged was closest to the French system. By a minor amendment ordinary voters could elect our President.
Our politicians have failed to grasp the obvious systemic reform that would accrue from the President discharging responsibility as laid down in our written Constitution. Perhaps the public unconsciously has recognized this truth. In a departure from the past for the first time protesters in the current rape case crisis converged at Rashtrapati Bhawan instead of focusing only on ministers.
The public is conveying a message. Will President Mukherjee heed it?
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Comments on this Article
12/31/2012 03:33 AM
Prof. Shubha Tiwari
12/28/2012 23:43 PM
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