The Courts alone won't do!

Everytime we hear the Supreme Court of India making a progressive judgement, we are flooded with a bout of celebrations. But I, for that matter, have mixed feelings about this whole business.

No doubt, the decision of Supreme Court to strike down IPC 377 is laudable. But the circumstances that led to this is less than desirable. This points to the abdication of legislative and executive responsibilities to our courts.

That despite our democratic setup, we have to depend upon the courts to repeal this draconian law is a scathing indictment to our polity. The legislature is empowered to come up with laws that are meant to protect its citizenry. But this very legislatures of ours have sustained these laws for decades now without any qualms. When an MP tried to introduce a private bill to repeal this article, he was booed down by our esteemed parliamentarians!

Is this the sort of men (unfortunately, most of them are men) who should represent us?

And all these elected governments have evaded the responsibility of either intoducing a new bill or taking actions to prevent its misuse. In a country preoccuppied with a lot of superficial things, the sheer apathy with which we tolerated this is shameful and unbecoming of a civilised nation.

We are to blame because what are we, the people, doing to create an enlightened citizenry? What are our forms of interventions?

It is quite easy to applaud the SC for judgements like this. But it is just another institution in our gullibe polity. What if, it is to renege from its exalted ideals in the years to come? If we aren’t enlightened enough, I reckon, even this instituion wouldn’t prove infallible. Of late, with all those institutional attempts to erode its legitimacy, we should be ever cautious.

If we are celebrating this too much, wouldn’t our protests be blunted when we accuse the courts of judicial activism on many other issues, some of them very legitimately so?

After all, Judiciary is the least accountable among organs of the state. I wish it to stay so. For the interests of rule of the law might be in conflict with the aspirations of the respective majorities of a time. But the institution shall stay strong enough to protect the gentle decencies of rule of the law.

It is through other organs of the state that forces of social progress shall see prime expression. Judiciary can indeed drive social progress, but its avenues are limited. Even less, the resources at its disposal. The only valuable thing that it possess is its legitimacy.

These changes can’t be sustainable if we are to fill other organs with regressive elements and expect the courts to perform reform. This holds true, no matter what your ideological aspirations are or how different is your ideas on progress are.

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Written on September 6, 2018