ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics : Rule of Law

Rule of Law The recent Bal Thackeray arrest/non-arrest/release episode and Veerappan

The recent Bal Thackeray arrest/non-arrest/release episode and Veerappan’s volley of demands for release of his hostages raise a number of issues about the rule of law. In the Thackeray case, the leader of a regionally powerful political party with a proclaimed communal agenda allegedly penned inflammatory writings in the party organ that incited his followers to go on a rampage in Mumbai against members of a religious minority. A commission headed by a high court judge found enough grounds for recommending that Thackeray be proceeded against legally. But there was no prosecution for years because the state government in power was run by Thackeray’s party or was scared of the turmoil and violence Thackeray’s followers could unleash. Finally, after some eight years of the events in question, the government in power finally decides to act. As best as most people can tell, the reason for the decision is political and not any belated discovery of principle and respect for law on the part of those in power. There was great fear in the city of Mumbai that, if the prosecution were to go forward, Thackeray’s supporters would embark on mayhem. As it happened, a lower court dismissed the prosecution on the ground that the statute of limitations applied and Mumbai breathed a sigh of relief.

Veerappan is a bandit who though accused of several murders, kidnappings and dacoities over many years, has not been apprehended by the security forces, and has gone on committing further crimes, the latest being the kidnapping of a well known Kannada cinema actor, Rajkumar, and some of his friends. This has led to strong public outrage that brought Bangalore city to a virtual standstill and also resulted in substantial damage to private and public property. The fear now is that if Veerappan holds on to his hostages much longer, not to mention if they are physically harmed, there would be mayhem in the whole of Karnataka.

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