So, Arnab gets three weeks. It is refreshing to note that the Apex Court has responded with promptitude. Constitutional vitality and as the ultimate protector of Human Rights and rights of the IV Estate. This piece is not about ‘whataboutcry’. It is a true tribute, notwithstanding my communication skills. H R Khanna was heralded as a hero of human rights among the galaxy of the learned. Some names, some actions, some rulings go unnoticed. Luckily here is a ‘spirited-contentious true-to-his-job’ journalist that the system thought it right to safeguard his rights and more importantly to uphold the rights of free expression. The court as the Sentinel and Arnab as its practising preacher, form an ideal combination. This is not a rare occasion when in extra in extraordinary circumstances, the Apex Court has led by example. Yet another instance is when ‘midnight’ or late-night hearings to protect human rights have been held.
The bench, after all even spelt out the crucial parameters and to quote “To ensure that the criminal process does not assume the character of a vexation exercise by the institution of multifarious complaints founded on the same cause in multiple states. The need for law to protect journalistic freedom within the ambit of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The requirement that recourse be taken to the remedies available to every citizen in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. Ensuring that in order to enable the citizen to pursue legal remedies, a protection of personal liberty against coercive steps be granted for a limited duration in the meantime. The investigation of an FIR should be allowed to take place in accordance with law without this Court deploying its jurisdiction under Article 32 to obstruct the due process of law. Assuming the apprehension of the petitioner of a threat to his safety and the safety of his business establishment. Bearing the above principles in mind, we issue the following directions: Save and expect for FIR no 238 of 2020 dated 22 April 2020, registered at Police Station Sadar District, Nagpur City, Maharashtra, all further proceedings arising out of and emanating from the remaining FIRs and complaints listed out at Annexure P-2 of the petition shall remain stayed, until further orders”.
I wonder, often why some persons are disgruntled and cynical about our judicial system!! Many in the country and outside of the context are perplexed that many happenings in the Indian polity are unprecedented and clear signals of potential danger. We may reassure ourselves that nothing very new (this piece is not about the killer virus) is happening. In the midst of such a scenario – global and domestic, where human action is constantly under the microscope: be it whether Dhoni has played his last match for India, whether Rangoli has been wrongly charge sheeted, whether it is right for Taimur to appear without a mask, where is the Home Minister…. those in power are being critically watched. The action of not just the Executive and its political wing are under scrutiny.
Like Ceaser’s wife be above suspicion is the mantra. Since much happens behind the iron-screen, rumours have a field day. Action taken in the best interest of the polity by highly contentious and learned authorities is either misunderstood and misinterpreted. Some wise men prefer silence. ‘To be silent is to lie’ said a great thinker. The judicio-political matrix and its by definition, pronouncement, practice and convenient habit of silence and behind the curtains, raises more questions of credibility. Some of them who singularly due to their legal acumen, integrity, and legal experience have reached the ‘blessed seat’ of deciding the fate of some, many and multitudes are bad mouthed. After all, we live in times when saints are ridiculed and the honest, trolled!! Those who do not become beneficiaries of the benefactors, are disturbed, luminaries who have zealously guarded their reputation and worked with single minded devotion to work their way up to the highest echelons of the ladder are constantly faulted for every systemic victim. Every beneficiary counts the blessings. Some fight the system: Tough guys. Elie Wiesel pronounced: “There are no tough times. Our system always prevails over its opponents”. Arnab is a tough guy. Just a while ago he declared to the nation that as a nationalist even if courts hall him up, he would face it. It is but a minor aberration that he seeks the protection of the system. Again it was Elie Wiesel who said: “Our experts are masters in the art of breaking the former minister, the fallen dignitary, the commissar in disgrace; they know how to overcome the mistrust of the politicians and the faith of the believers and bring them to the point of spilling the beans. Oh, yes, I’ve seen them all. Yesterday they were famous and powerful; today they’re on their knees, whining and repeating the speeches prepared for them, and they don’t even remember that these discourses are not their own”.
Arnab or no Arnab. From kaleidoscopic perspectives, every action of those in high places is being minutely monitored. Those who do not answer now, will be called upon later. We belong to a religious belief that those who do not answer here will be called to answer elsewhere.