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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Scrapping Article 66A – not enough for national rejoicing

The quashing of section 66A, the controversial cyber law by the supreme court comes as a relief to many, especially those who would not like the rich and the powerful to carry on with their indiscretions unopposed. Laying stress on the freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution, the court consigned this controversial section to the dustbin mainly on account of its vagueness and arbitrariness. The arrests and harassment in recent times of citizens who criticized the whimsical acts of powerful politicians perhaps formed the basis for this landmark judgement.

2013 and 14 perhaps marked the lowest ever point in the history of the great Indian railways with a scoundrel of the highest order occupying the corner room and treating the organization as his personal fiefdom. This scoundrel and his wife displayed conduct of the lowest order and in the process tortured and humiliated scores of railway staff. His rank indulgence in corrupt practices set new records with all his cronies remaining busy in extortions, yet with very rare exceptions, hardly any officer or staff came forward in defiance of illegal orders and practices being perpetrated at the behest of the scoundrel couple. Despite frequent mentions of his gross misconduct in passing in the national media as well as social media, he passed into oblivion unscathed with almost the entire organization, with very few exceptions watching in awe and fear without taking recourse to the national or even social media to highlight what was indeed going wrong. This group would remain silent even in the post section 66A era that the apex court has heralded.

The quashing of section 66A would definitely make a difference, even if a minor one, only to the very few who have the spine and even otherwise were carrying on with their writing against unethical conduct and practices, regardless of the inconvenience they were often put through. Now it would be almost impossible to put behind bars or harass those who are vocal enough to say through the social media what others merely digested unmindful.

The moot question is whether we as an individual, as a karinda of the government, as an organization or as a society are indeed ready to accept a different and very often the truthful viewpoint. The answer is “not yet” for we have not attained the level of maturity that most of the societies in the developed world have. Suppression of free expression of the masses, unless ofcourse they are seditious in nature or promote national disharmony or terrorism, is not the right way of governing a free democratic nation. What we indeed need to suppress are acts that are criminal in nature and/or go against the basic grain of our social structure and in that we have been a miserable failure. The massive delays in bringing to task even the perpetrators of heinous crimes like gang rapes and murders even of ex prime ministers is a serious cause of concern and the root cause behind crime, social disorder and the rampant corruption that almost all organs of governments are generally embroiled in.

The quashing of section 66A is definitely a welcome step but does not give enough reason for national rejoicing. It can at best be regarded as the first small step in the direction of setting right the governance and social systems of the country, yet it can act as a catalyst for ushering in a plethora of reforms in the governance machinery of the country.

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