People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 10, 2007

My Money Is Costlier Than Your Money


G Mamta


“The bourgeoisie,… has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. (Communist Manifesto)


The Supreme Court has stirred once again, but after seven days. It has taken a suo motu cognisance of the destruction of properties in the Gujjar incidents of violence saying that “it has caused a lot of trauma to the people” and “damages should be recovered from destroyers”. It has in fact even recalled an earlier judgement given by the Kerala High Court against the observance of bandhs. It is true that right to protest does not mean the right to vandalism and destruction of properties. But what makes for interesting reading is the Court’s limited observations – just on the destruction of property and the hardships that were caused to ‘office-goers, doctors and lawyers’ and not a word about the loss of human lives in this entire period.


A state High Court in an earlier instance also taking suo motu cognisance of the police firing in that state has ordered a CBI enquiry, reports of which have to be submitted directly to it. Unfortunately for reasons unknown, no Court has ordered any enquiry – forget the CBI enquiry – on the entire happenings in Rajasthan in the past week and odd days where nearly 30 people have lost their lives. The most important aspect here is that many of them lost their lives in police firing. News about police firing in Rajasthan has become such a regular feature that many might have taken it easily sipping a cup of tea. Media also reports it just as a matter of fact. For them it is just another addition to the statistics. They do not consider this as an atrocious act of destruction of human life. An important fact that cannot be missed here is that in the more than three-year rule of the BJP government in Rajasthan, there were 21 incidents of police firing on protesting people. No court bothered to order a CBI enquiry on any of them. It is true that time is important; properties are valuable but what about life? Are the lives of people of less valuable than properties destroyed?


Just here arises another question that should annoy any discerning observer. When the government refuses to abide by the agreement it reaches with the peasants of Garhsana-Rawala region and goes back on its word to supply them with water, is it not destroying properties worth crores of rupees? Are the peasants there not entitled to compensation from ‘those people who destroyed property’? When the upper caste chauvinists burn the houses of dalits in Gohana, should that be not called as destruction of property? Where are all those powers of the land when social and economic boycott is imposed on dalits just because they tried to live true to the promises made to them by the Constitution of our country? Has the state got eyes and ears to take cognisance of all these happenings? Can these be not termed as a strong case where ‘unfortunately it does not appear that any action has been taken against the offenders who were responsible for destruction of properties? Are these incidents not worth enough to be described as acts of ‘national shame’ as the apex court has described the recent incidents relating to Gujjar episode? Is this just because the powers of the land consider them not as “Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property!…or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property?” (Communist Manifesto)


Law should not give the impression of an African proverb which says ‘Corn Can't Expect Justice From A Court Composed Of Chickens’. According to the latest report of the Transparency International there is a substantial amount of corruption at the lower levels of the judiciary that is effectively preventing people from seeking judicial redress. It states that ‘the estimated amount paid in bribes in a 12-month period is around Rs 2,630 crores’, mostly at the lower levels of judicial system. A recent expose by a TV channel regarding the BMW hit-and-run case further strengthens such apprehensions. In this background people expect a lot at least from the higher echelons of the judicial system and they should not disappoint them. The judiciary should give confidence to the common people of our country by being sensitive to their issues and grievances. This would help in strengthening our democratic institutions in this period of crisis.