Monday, May 27, 2024
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Rule of law non-negotiable

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Politics is not just about having the right people in power but that power has to be constrained by a set of rules. Political power does not grant the right of arbitrary use of power such as scant respect for the rule of law. However, in Meghalaya it is not just the political players that try to subvert the rule of law but other groups and entities too follow the same trajectory. When a crime is committed and the police get into the act of tracking the suspects by taking people for questioning there are attempts to subvert that process by undue use of public pressure seeking the release of the suspects. For too long politicians too have played into the hands of such pressure groups that have time and again prevented the law from taking its course.
In general, the rule of law implies that the enforcement of the laws of a country are applied such that no one—including the most highly placed official or individual or group for that matter — is above the law. The legal constraint on rulers means that the government is subject to existing laws as much as its citizens are. The application and adjudication of legal rules by various governing officials are to be impartial and consistent across equivalent cases without taking into consideration the class, status, or relative power among disputants. In order, for those ideas to have any real meaning however there should be a demonstrable model that people can look up to. In Meghalaya there is no such model since most murders remain unsolved because the very process is marred by political and other interventions.
The entity that is vested with the power to arrest, investigate and chargesheet criminals is the police. It is unfortunate that in most states of India including in Meghalaya the rule of law is compromised because the police have been reduced to an entity that safeguards only the powerful and those with clout even while ordinary citizens are hard pressed to find justice. Shoddy investigation into crimes result in poor conviction rates even as those with a criminal bent of mind move on to the next crime thereby endangering society. It is a non-negotiable factor that the police must be given a free hand to arrest and investigate crime without second guessing as to what the consequences would be if they arrest someone who belongs to an “influential” pressure group. In fact, the use of such adjectives to describe any group runs the risk of attributing arbitrary powers to that group or groups. The police are not enjoined to take orders from the higher-ups or any other entity if that violates their code of conduct. Meghalaya Police need to stand up for their rights and cannot be seen as a compromised force that is always on the backfoot.

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