Monday, October 18, 2021
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Why I am worried as a private citizen over what happened in Supreme Court today over farm laws

So who am I to object to anything anyway? I only have contempt for myself because I know nothing at all. This much I might know. I guess.

The Supreme Court of India has a lot of power. I have none. I only have the ability to speak, which may or may not be allowed in this case. Today the Supreme Court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the three recently passed farm laws.

During the proceedings, it appeared at various times that the court would stay the laws themselves. At other times, it seemed the court would form a committee of eminent persons whose role did not seem immediately clear. Would they mediate between the government and the protesters? Or would this committee frame new laws themselves? Would they recommend new laws or would they have the power to pass laws on their own? If make recommendations, who would these recommendations be for? The government or the Supreme Court? Would the government have the authority to reject these recommendations?

We don’t know. Some are saying the picture might become clear tomorrow. Again, we don’t know. And therein lies the rub.

For me as a private citizen, this is terrifying to say the least. Who makes laws in this country? I don’t know any more.

I used to think that we get to choose legislators who can vote and pass bills in Parliament. Once the President signs the bill, it becomes law. After that, the role of the judiciary is limited to checking whether the law is in keeping with the constitution. In particular, the merits and demerits of the law are not debated in court. If someone is protesting against a law, if the protests create a law and order situation or have the potential to create a law and order situation, that is between the government and the protesters.

The MPs who vote in parliament represent us and are accountable to us. We can criticize them; we can vote them out of office if we want. Those who make our laws should represent us and be accountable to us.

At least that was my understanding. I am not saying it is the correct understanding. Only the learned judges can tell us what is correct. If I have been wrong about this for most of my life, I would appeal to the learned judges to correct me.

Again in my limited understanding, I am not alone in my confusions. A number of fellow citizens on social seem confused too. What does this mean, for instance?

LiveLaw tweet on the court proceedings

So do citizens have to approach the court with petitions formally informing them about what they feel is good or bad in the country? I used to think that we get to have our say during elections. I take pride in voting in every election where I am eligible, local, state or centre. And I want to take my civic duties seriously. If there is an additional step where we are supposed to petition the court with our views on the government, I would like to know about it.

I’ve heard of voter turnout. I have never heard of petitioner turnout. My fault, very likely.

Let me just say I do not object to any decision that the honourable court may take, today or tomorrow or any other day, on the matter of farm laws and any other issue. Wait, is that supposed to be ‘honourable’ in lower case or ‘Honorable’ with the first letter in upper case or ‘HONORABLE’ with all letters in upper case? I have no idea. I know absolutely nothing.

So who am I to object to anything anyway? I only have contempt for myself because I know nothing at all. This much I might know. I guess.


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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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