The news that the cabinet is hemming-and-hawing over banning the Bajrang Dal and throwing out the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa is depressing – because the "Rule of Law" is being subverted by petty politics.
The ideal of the rule of law is that The Law is above all else. If the highest in the land violate the law, they must face the consequences. The law is above politics. Indeed, in old England, where the idea of the rule of law originated, the law was even above the King. The English said that "the King is under God and the Law." This is also the idea behind "constitutional government," which means that those in public office must follow the rules of the constitution.
We still see glimpses of this in the west: Jemma Bush, the daughter of the US president, got into trouble over teenage drinking and was made to serve community labour. Tony Blair's son landed up in trouble with the police after a barroom brawl and his daddy did not interfere to save him. Lord Jeffery Archer served a term in prison.
In India, some big names have been hauled up – like Sanjay Dutt the film star or Sanjeev Nanda in the BMW case – but by and large it is quite apparent that politicians and their children (as in the Jessica Lal murder case) are above the law. And as events in Orissa and Karnataka indicate, political hate crimes are also above the law.
All this shows that we as a nation have got our priorities totally mixed up. We value "democracy." We do not value the rule of law. In reality, there is no need for the union cabinet to ponder over law & order issues. Policing and law & order are a state subject. The jurisdiction is local. The local police should act without fear or favour against any and every violator of the law. If they don't, the state home minister should act. If he doesn't, the union home minister should do the needful. After all, he has "independent charge." It is a mockery of law that the entire cabinet should meet to discuss such simple matters of law enforcement – which should be strict. This is total politicization of law & order.
Do read the news report on the cabinet meet here – and I am sorry if it depresses you. But Happy Dussehra anyway. The festivities are all about Good triumphing over Evil. But the stark reality is that, in this Land of Faith – even blind faith – things are the other way around. We urgently need to reform out government.