DailyPost 1729

You would have variously heard of the breakdown of law and order. Primarily, it means the breakdown of public order. The day-to-day life of the common man and his peace as a consequence to it, gets impacted in a big way. Sometimes, it might also lead to a breakdown of the constitutional machinery and we hear references to the imposition of President’s rule et al. Very rarely, you would have heard of breakdown of law, because it is generally not used. What then is the breakdown of law? It is the existence of a situation where the law is not applied in word and spirit,  in an objectively professional manner and with no extraneous factors coming into play. It also means lack of comprehensiveness in approach and completeness in application,  in taking it to its logical conclusion.

Starting with the latter, comprehensiveness means that all who are on the wrong side of the same law,  meet the same fate. It also means that the machinery of the state is able to cover the maximum of the culprits following the same principle. The well-established principle is from the grave to the simple. The selective application of law is the gravest crime. This gives you the power to decide even before the law is set  into motion. I don’t think even a slightest bit of thought has gone into this, in the criminal justice system or in other similar areas. The anti-dote is very interesting that you should restrict to your own case, you cannot talk about other persons’ visible complicity in similar offences. Only who is booked is an accused. This primarily brings us to the legal adage of our time, show me the person and I will show you the law.

The fate of the lack of completeness in investigation, we have references to by the Courts on a regular basis. We also hear of Govt affidavits which do not foot the bill as directed by the Courts and more often than not lingers the judicial process is beyond doubt. The graver part of the completeness story is whether the correct sections of law have been invoked for not to start with. Whether the enforcement has happened as per all provisions of the law? Or a lenient view has deliberately been taken or an escape provided for. When City land use, offset and FAR rules are  allowed to be flouted indiscriminately, may be for a price, the whole city lands into disarray. Is this not a breakdown of law? Major legal lacunas leaving groups and groups of public servants and political executives unaccountable is a mockery of law.

The other interesting facet of our functional law is that you will never know who is calling the shots. They have remained naïve and ignorant since the onset of Indian democracy. They are scared of letting it known even with full state machinery is under their command. And the accused so many times wrongly implicated have to keep fighting against the might of the state with his meagre resources at times only for his dignity. Does the Police have the power to register a case or not? Why different sections of law are applied for the same offences depending on political dispensation or on the whims and fancies of senior police leadership? Why does every political party in power find it convenient to get cases registered and pursue it with vengeance, in states under its control? Is there politics of law too?


Sanjay Sahay

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