An evening at ‘Muktadhara’, the first public debate in Tripura organized by ‘Dilip Sarkar Memorial Foundation’ a great success
By our correspondent
Agartala, November 1, 2022
It was a languorous semi-winter evening in the government-run ‘Muktadhara’ auditorium, bristling with large audiences eager to listen to the battle of wits at the state’s first public debate on ‘ Not everyone is equal in the eyes of the law these days. The debaters – four for and against the motion – were arranged on the dais tastefully decorated on both sides. Moderation of the debate was the responsibility of Kolkata-based Chandril Bhattacharjee, a prominent lyricist, poet and debater. Everything had been arranged by the “Dilip Sarkar Memorial Foundation” headed by Subrata Sarkar, son of the eminent lawyer Dilip Sarkar and equally eminent lawyer. Debaters included General Counsel Sasanka Sekhar De, Advocate Sandip Dutta-Chowdhury, Assistant Professor Sutapa Sarkar and media veteran Sekhar Datta on one side for the motion and Mustafa Kamal, Jayanta Malakar, Dr Kanak Chowdhury and Anthony Debbarma vs.
THE MYTH OF EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW.
That not everyone is equal in the eyes of the law has been confirmed by historical events since time immemorial and is now an axiom that will remain so in the future. The manner in which Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, had been forced to pronounce death by crucifixion for Jesus on April 3, 30 or 33 AD in the face of fanatical cries from a Jewish mob in Judea against his better judgment proves the point. Pontius Pilate had symbolically washed his hands of sinful declaration, but the example was set. The precedent having been set, things moved on with the incarceration of the powerful and wealthy who escaped perfidy committed by either paying blood money or securing acquittal by other underhanded means.
If we return to the realities of today, we find that the contradiction between equality and inequality continues to haunt us. Proponents of socialism or communism insist that perfect equality before the law or in society is possible, but the myth is shattered by the fact that socialist equality is in fact an imposed equality which does not really arise from socio-economic realities. Milovan Djilas (1911-1995), a top communist leader and prime minister of now-defunct Yugoslavia, had written two groundbreaking books, “The New Class” and “Conversations with Joseph Stalin”, exposing the errors of the concept of equality socialist. before the law and at the social level.
The United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 had adopted a resolution on the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” incorporating the concept of equality before the law as an important feature. This concept of equal status and dignity and the right to equality before the law has been enshrined in the Indian constitution in the preamble as well as in article 14 of the constitution. But the reality has always been in contradiction with the noble concepts that emerge from the concrete facts: article 15 of the constitution imposes the prevention of discrimination based on sex, race, religion, language and place of origin , etc., while Article 17 proclaims the abolition of untouchability, making it a punishable offence. But the harsh reality is that temple entry for ‘Dalits’ is still prohibited and the discrimination is so blatant that a few Dalit industrial entrepreneurs have had to start the ‘Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry’ to survive in the world of business.
Apart from this, article 44 obliges the state to legislate a uniform civil code which is confirmed and even directed by several Supreme Court judgments, but this has not yet been implemented, despite the content of Article 37 which directs the state to look to the “Principles guideline as policy guides for any government. In addition, Articles 29 and 30 allow minorities to preserve their language and culture as well as to administer and manage educational institutions without state interference. A very civilized provision but a flagrant and inherent contradiction is there because, on the one hand, it is not positive discrimination as in the benefits reserved for the SC ST and OBC communities granted for socio-economic reasons and, on the other hand, on the other hand, in the event that a right denied to the majority is granted to the minority, it can only create social tensions as we are witnessing today. The question is: where does the right to equality before the law go?
And what about the right against exploitation guaranteed by the constitution in article 24 which prohibits the engagement of children under the age of 14 in dangerous work such as mines and factories. This is seen more in violation than in implementation for a multitude of reasons and the right to equality before the law goes haywire. Now let’s move on to more mundane matters, how Bollywood star Salman Khan escaped incarceration in prison by hiring one of the country’s most expensive lawyers, Harish Salve, at the high court of Mumbai, by paying high fees and arranging his journey to and from Delhi by chartered aircraft. Is this facility available to all citizens, notwithstanding the guiding principle of Section 39-A for the government’s legal aid program? How was the final report filed by Tripura police in record time after the alleged gang rape and burning alive of a poor girl Monti Deb in Mohanpur with police acting as collaborators? Where was the right to equality before the law enshrined in the constitution?
Above all, the right to equal access to justice continues to be violated, as evidenced by the Supreme Court’s rejection of a central government proposal in February 2010 to constitute four circuit benches of the Supreme Court at the four corners of India, as recommended by the law commission. . In yet another case, the contentious promotion reservation decided by the Tripura High Court has been suspended on appeal to the Supreme Court for seven years, causing great inconvenience to governments across the country and the effectiveness of their governance. Do these bodies serve the objective of equal justice or the right to equality before the law? Until September 2021, 4.5 million cases were pending before the courts across the country and by now the number must have gotten even worse, but there is no solution in sight, whatever whatever the concern and interest of justice seekers. There are many other cases of daily violation of the right to equality before the law. The most egregious daily example is the refusal of the police to register the FIR or complaint and give a copy to the complainant despite the unambiguous provision of Article 154 of the CrPc which obliges to make available a copy of the complaint or FIR to the complainant.
Those who spoke for the motion cited inane points like three prominent members of the minority becoming the country’s president, Socrates refusing to escape despite a litter after the death sentence was imposed on him or a so- saying positive discrimination in some cases and the former Prime Minister. Minister PV Narasimha Rao jumped to court after resigning from office. Pro-motion debaters had little purpose, but they managed to impress the public with evasion, subterfuge and deflection. But overall, the program was a great success, as evidenced by the strong interest shown and the enthusiasm of the large audience.