20 October, 2020

A Poverty Of Rights

It’s easy to thwart constitutional guarantees using draconian laws and the police

A Poverty Of Rights

Now that the euphoria over the Supreme Court’s landmark Section 377 verdict is fading, we can ask whether such pronouncements are anything more than ineffectual dictums on paper—just like the many rights enshrined in the Constitution that are conspicuous only in their violation, as would happen in any society that is yet to imbibe rational and scientific values. And when the political regime itself promotes obscurantism, traditions and customs, against the constitutional mandate, the prospects of reform are bleak. The recent crackdown on top defenders of democratic rights by the Pune police, branding them ‘urban Maoists’, illustrates how draconian laws and the discretionary powers of the police can easily thwart and render useless the fundamental rights in the Constitution. The devil—as BR Ambedkar lamented in 1955, exp­laining his earlier outburst in the Rajya Sabha disowning the Constitution—had taken possession of the temple (the Constitution of India) they built before they could install the gods.

As the working of law largely...



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