“All are equal before law” is the basic principle of judiciary and democracy and when it is violated by the state government itself, the highest court has to intervene to uphold the rights of citizens. Ruling politicians targeting citizens revengefully by razing houses, destroying news channel studios, putting false cases etc., in movies like Nayak, Race Gurram felt cinematic then. But all these cinematic nightmares turned out to be realities in Maharashtra as Mahavikas Aghadi government specifically targeted some citizens with revenge.
There are several instances where Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government harassed citizens egregiously.In December 2019, Uddhav Thackarey spoke against Delhi Police in Jamia Milia incident and supported anti CAA supporters. He compared Jamia Milia Incident to Jalianwalla Bagh massacre. A person named Hiramani Tiwari posted in Facebook against this comparison and called Uddhav Thackeray bald. After this post he received threats and he deleted the post. Even after deleting Shiv-Sena workers went to his house, abused, shaved his head and assaulted him damaging eardrum. He also received notices from police under section 149 of CRPC.
In April 2020, Maharashtra government also registered a case against a doctor for speaking about Tabligh-e-Jamat and urged to file a case against activist writer Shefali Vidya for the same reason. In August 2020 twitter user Sunaina Holey was arrested for posting against government on handling of corona crisis and released after she got bail. She was arrested by Mumbai police for the same offence a day after getting bail. Sameer Thakkar was arrested for his posts on social media calling Aditya Thackarey, son of Udhav Thackarey,“Baby Penguin”.
Aditya Thackeray, environmental minister, spent crores of rupees for bringing penguin to Mumbai zoo and creating cool environment, but the penguin died subsequently. Sameer was arrested on October 25th and kept in custody for 9 days. After getting bail he was arrested again totally thrice for the same offence in few a weeks. Paresh Borse, a Mumbai resident, was arrested for a social media post taking a dig at Maharashtra government’s way handling of Corona crisis. In September, Sahil Choudhary was arrested over a social media post regarding Sushant Singh Rajput death and Aditya Thackeray. In October, Advocate Vibhor Anand was arrested over a social media post about Sushanth Singh Rajput death probe.
This kind of specific targeting, filing cases and arresting citizens who criticize government has become a routine in Maharashtra. Film actress Kangana Ranaut has expressed opinions and mistrust over the investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput death done by Maharashtra government. Later, Shivasena M.P Sanjay Raut abused her calling “Haramkhor” and challenging to come to Mumbai. Kangana retorted comparing Mumbai to POK in safety and criticized Mumbai Police and Maharashtra government. Subsequently, Maharashtra government filed FIR on Kangana Ranaut under various sections like Promoting enemity between two communities. What happened next was unexpected.
Mumbai Municipal Corporation gave a notice to Kangana Ranaut regarding her building in Mumbai. Shiva sena M.P Sanjay Raut in an interview to news channel said “What is law? Ukhad denge (We will demolish it)”. The building was demolished next day in a very hurried manner. After court ordered a stay, the demolition was stopped. Bombay court quashed BMC order of demolition. Court in verdict said “Mumbai Minicipal Corporation has acted against the rights of individuals.It is nothing but malice in law.Court does not approve of authorities using muscle power against any citizen.” Court advised Kangana to maintain restraint while opining. Court also criticized Sanjay Raut saying his behaviour does not befit a Parliamentarian.
The curious cases of Republic vs Maha Vikas Aghadi
Republic Media Network’s Editor -in Chief Arnab Goswami physically assaulted and arrested. Republic Executive editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy summoned. Republic TV consulting editor Pradeep Bhandari summoned. Republic TV distribution head Ghanshyam Singh arrested. Mumbai Police registered FIR against Republic TV in fake TRP scam. Republic TV reporter Anuj Kumar, Video journalist Yashpal jith singh and driver Pradeep Dilip were arrested and released on bail. List goes on.
What is in a name?
It all started on uttering a person by real name. In Palghar Sadhus were lynched in front of police station by a mob. Arnab Goswami questioned Sonia Gandhi, Mahavikas Aghadi government and others on the selective silence and hypocrisy of not condemning the incident. While questioning Sonia Gandhi, Arnab Goswami addressed by her real name “Antonio Maino”. In corona crisis, Maharashtra government filed a case against Arnab Goswami and was questioned for 12 hours. Republic TV staff and Arnab Goswami questioned MVA government in several issues in Handling of corona crisis, Sushant Singh Rajput death probe, etc. The things that followed were vindictive, undemocratic and unconstitutional. Several cases were booked against many republic staff. A case which was closed 3 years back was re-opened and Arnab Goswami was arrested without a proper FIR. He was assaulted and shifted to jails amidst corona crisis. Supreme court granted bail and said “Deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many. The doors of the supreme court can not be closed to a citizen who is able to establish prima facie that instrumentality of the state is being weaponized for using the force of criminal law.We do not like to look his shows”
Dissent is a part of democracy. Citizens can question and opine about government. There are several instances in past where such questionings and criticisms happened. Bollywood actor Amir Khan has said that he was scared to live in this country and has thought about leaving India. Many famous news channels, newspapers, politicians created a false propaganda about a major scam about Rafale with the only intent to malign honest image of Narendra Modi and NDA. Advocate Prashnt Bhushan made allegations against judiciary. Comedian Kunal Kamra abused vulgarly supreme court on granting bail to Arnab Goswamy. One may not like some one or the way one speaks or their opinions, but to use power and law as a weapon to take revenge on them is against the spirit of democracy. Such attitude led to imposing emergency in 1975 by the then congress Prime Minister. Judiciary has to intervene then also for restoring democracy. India can not or will not accept such regressive, oppressing, undemocratic and feudalistic actions. The three pillars of democracy have to work for the people .Every time every citizen cannot expect third pillar of democracy to intervene and remind the rest of two pillars of democracy about the rights and liberties of citizens.
Law should not be weaponized. Law should be used to deliver justice.