The already faulty criminal justice system in India has been bent over more by the Modi regime. Anyone speaking against the Bharatiya Janata Party or Narendra Modi have been persecuted in one way or the other in the recent past. The executive in India today is freely and openly pulling strings in the judiciary to have its political motives fulfilled. The recent persecution of an 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy and subsequent death while in judicial custody has stamped the fact that the justice system in India is under threat by the Modi regime. Just before the pandemic hit the country, we witnessed how various acts and laws have been used by the ruling government to suppress the rising voices of dissent during the anti-CAA and farmers’ protest. For instance, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has been labeled against many social and political activists in the past 2 years. Additionally, even central agencies like the NIA are being used to carry out the political agenda of the ruling party. To make the situation worse, a section of the judiciary has been acting as ‘executive judiciary’ by denying the fundamental rights to citizens.
In the case of Father Swamy, he along with fifteen others were implicated in the Bhima Koregaon case. The Parkinson’s disease-stricken octogenarian was denied bail by the NIA Special Court twice citing that the collective interest of the community outweighed the right of personal liberty. Earlier, the same court had refused to order a ‘sipper’ for him to use to drink as he was unable to take care of himself. The shameful episode has been termed a black spot on the Indian judicial system by many. In addition to Father Swamy, well-known intellectuals like Anand Teltumbde and social activists like Sudha Bharadwaj have all been booked under the anti-terror law. Under this law, it is virtually impossible to get bail given its stringent clauses for the same. Nevertheless, a division bench of the Delhi High Court did grant bail to three student activists in jail under UAPA in the Northeast Delhi riot case. However, soon after the announcement, the Supreme Court set to re-examine the judgment clearly pointing out how the judiciary is being used by the executive.
Back in Assam, KMSS leader and current state legislator Akhil Gogoi had to contest elections from the jail. Notably, Gogoi during a recent press interaction slammed the BJP and alleged that it willingly bent laws to keep him behind bars during the assembly elections so that they may win. Many believe that the government has been making elaborate strategies to frame activists who are critical of the current governance. As in the case of Father Swamy, the US digital forensic company, Arsenal Consulting, published a report where it said that malware since 2016 was planting Maoist messages on his computer. Earlier, in a video interview just before his arrest, Father Swamy had denied any knowledge of Maoist communication in his computer. The hard drive was examined by the company after the defense lawyers, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling managed to seek help from the American Bar Association. Such instances prove the fact that how easy it is to manipulate the Indian justice system. The judiciary must take a proactive role in seeing that the democratic right of the citizen is not quashed under the pressure of acting as an ‘executive judiciary’.