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Rule of lawlessness
This is what has eroded democracy and people’s faith in it
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Rightly equating sustenance of rule of law with the sustenance of democracy, Omar Abdullah in his address at the inaugural function of Third Regional Judicial Conference (North Zone) on the role of courts in upholding rule of law at Srinagar on Friday, said that their survival depends on each other. While emphasizing that the rule of law is paramount in democracy the chief minister said that it cannot survive in a totalitarian state. While several countries including India claim to be democracies the fact of the matter is that both democracy and rule of law are in short supply. In Jammu and Kashmir the ruling elite may justify the absence of the rule of law on the ground that the system of governance that we have in the state is neither democratic nor based on justice. The supremacy of law and equality before law are the two essential features of any democracy and the sad reality is that we in Jammu and Kashmir have neither of the two. Democracy is not only a government of the people, by the people and for the people; it is also governance by discussions, with dissent an essential ingredient of any free dialogue and debate. All these features do not exist in the state and as such the rule of law has been the major casualty.

The democratic system in the country itself is in shambles. The preamble of the Constitution of India, as well as that of Jammu and Kashmir, proclaim the country and the state respectively as secular democratic entities. But in actual reality what we have is a democracy only in form and not in substance. Both the rule of law and equality before law are is absent. It’s one thing to have a democratic constitution and altogether a different thing to function as a genuine democracy which not only believes in the rule of law but also envisages right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It’s the muscle and money power, in addition to various other factors like castes, religion, ethnicity etc which determine the outcome of the elections. The election entailing huge expenditure, itself is not a battle of equals.

It’s one thing to have a democratic constitution and altogether other thing to be a democracy in the real sense of the term. The Constitution is just a piece of paper or simply a document but what matters is how those managing the affairs of the country work the constitution. As Dr B.R.Ambedkar succinctly put it before the signing of the Constitution of India on 25 November, 1949: “However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it happen to be a good lot. The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of the state such as legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The factors on which the working of those organs of the state depend are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instrument to carry out their wishes and their politics. Who can say how the people of India and their parties will behave.” Sixty three years after the masterly exposition of the Constitution and prophetic words by the chairman of its drafting committee what we find is the crumbling of the very system based on that Constitution. Its not the Constitution that failed the people but the very people who worked this constitution failed to follow the test laid down by the founding fathers of the Constitution.

It’s the failure of our electoral system, incompetence and dishonesty of those who occupied the seats of power or controlled other organs of the state like executive, legislature, judiciary and even the fourth estate who are responsible for the present mess. We have today neither rule of law, nor equality before law but rule of lawlessness, which is anti-thesis of any democracy. The manner in which a democratic constitution has been worked out by those who mattered has brought us to such a pathetic situation where we neither have rule of law nor democracy.

News Updated at : Monday, October 21, 2013
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