With lawmakers across parties, be it in Mumbai or Delhi or elsewhere, behaving in such a petulant manner what is in store for the ordinary citizens. They will have to be alert and ready to fight for their rights as more and more lawmakers themselves will become law breakers
Not very long ago, we in Maharashtra used to take pride that ours is an industrially advanced state with strong bedrock of culture. When we used to hear stories about MLAs in some other states indulging in violence inside and outside the Assembly, we used to express disgust at their behaviour. In our sense of self-righteousness we used to condemn such a conduct and would express strong anathema towards the unbecoming behaviour of the lawmakers.
Not anymore, it seems those days are well and truly over. What happened on 20 March 2013 in Mumbai and that too within the precincts of the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan at Nariman Point would make our heads hang in shame. Few MLAs/MLCs pounced upon an Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryavanshi and thrashed him in the presence of several other MLAs as also police officials. He was rescued by other policemen and had to be rushed to a public hospital. Later, he was shifted to the ICU of Bombay Hospital.
What was the fault of this policeman who invited such a wrath of these worthies who call themselves as citizens’ elected representatives? As evident from the press reports, a day earlier this same cop had hauled up one of the MLAs named Kshitij Thakur, a young people’s representative from an area close to Mumbai. He was charged for speeding on the Bandra - Worli Sea Link and was made to halt and asked for the fine for over speeding.
Instead of submitting himself to the law of the land, this worthy MLA moved a breach of privilege motion against the cop and wanted him to be punished by the House. He claimed that the policeman had misbehaved with him. That is true, when you ask a lawmaker to follow the law it amounts to misbehaviour; after all the laws are made by them for the common men to follow, they are above the law.
Next day the said policeman was in the visitors’ gallery of the Assembly and this MLA happened to see him. Soon he and few other MLAs went and got hold of the cop and thrashed him right inside the Vidhan Sabha building.
As if the conduct of the MLAs was not shameful enough, they were duly protected by their parties as well. While next day the House suspended them from the membership of the House till December end of 2013, no further action was forthcoming.
But the more shocking behaviour was of the senior police officers who miserably failed to perform their duty. Instead of arresting the guilty MLAs, the DGP and the Police Commissioner went and met the Chief Minister to express their displeasure.
Imagine what would have happened if instead of an MLA an ordinary citizen would have even dared to touch a policeman; he would have been immediately arrested and charged with the serious offence of beating a public servant and remanded to 14 days jail with further consequences to follow subsequently. In addition, the ordinary citizen would have been beaten blue and black for daring to touch a policeman.
Instead, in this case, the MLAs were able to negotiate their surrender and that too only two of them came at their convenience to the police station two days later and they were remanded to custody for one day. Senior police officers expressed satisfaction and indulged in self-congratulations.
The latest news is that all the MLAs are upset at the arrest of these two MLAs and want the policemen to be taught a lesson so that they are put in their place. With senior police officials playing footsie with the political leadership, it will not be surprising that a quiet burial will be given to the whole episode in the coming days. In fact worse may follow and the injured cop may be charged for misbehaving with a worthy MLA and be suspended from service; surprises never cease to happen, just keep your ears to the ground.
If politicians in Mumbai were touching the nadir of their conduct in public, their senior brethren in Delhi was faring no better as is evident from the conduct of several Members of Parliament during the debate on the Anti-Rape Law. While discussing the issue of providing greater protection to women, many MPs made derisive comments about women. In fact, Sharad Yadav, leader of JD (U), crossed all limits and made such cheap comments about women that one cannot even reproduce them. It was shocking that he and several other honourable members of Parliament failed to display any seriousness on the issue and instead indulged in banter even while the discussion on such a vital piece of legislation was on. Ms Supriya Sule was heard lamenting the conduct of her colleagues in Parliament.
As it is the MPs had failed in discharging their duty as two-thirds of them chose to remain absent from the House even as the anti-Rape law was being discussed by the House; many of those present exposed their perverted mental makeup, it would have better if they had also remained absent.
With lawmakers across parties, be it in Mumbai or Delhi or elsewhere, behaving in such a petulant manner what is in store for the ordinary citizens. It only means that the citizens have to be alert and ready to fight for their rights as more and more lawmakers themselves will become law breakers.
(Dr SD Israni, advocate & partner, SD Israni Law Chambers, is one of India’s leading authority on corporate, commercial and securities laws. He was a member of the Naresh Chandra Committee for simplification of Company Law relating to private and small companies. He has been on SEBI's committee on disclosures (called the Malegam Committee) and the one on buy-back of shares. Dr Israni has been a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Merchants' Chamber and Indian Council of Arbitration. Dr Israni is an active member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and was on its Central Council for four terms and headed the Capital Markets Committee of the ICSI.)