Due process: the sequel

In Madhya Pradesh, two young men were jailed for “hurting the sentiments of the Hindus” — to wit, sharing a morphed image of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. (Elsewhere, others manufacture and share morphed images and it is not they but the subjects of the faked videos that get arrested — but never mind that now).

Here’s the sequel: having arrested them under the provisions of a law the Supreme Court had struck down as “unconstitutional” a year ago, the police now have no idea what to do with them. (Emphasis mine)

“We don’t know how to proceed because we came to know later that the Section 66(A) was struck down by the SC. We have sent the case details to the district prosecution office,’’ in-charge of Kotwali Police Station Satish Singh Chouhan told The Indian Express Sunday.

We arrested him because local RSS cadres were angry about his post and came in large number to register a case,’’ said Chouhan.

That is what usually happens when the law bends to interest groups. You are supposed to arrest people if there is grounds to believe they broke the law — not because someone is pissed and flexes muscles.

But do they learn? Not a hope in hell. From the same report:

While the Sheopur police are still clueless, their counterparts in Anuppur have booked another Muslim youth under the same section of the IT Act for his Facebook comment against the RSS chief.

Update, via a friend on Facebook: Girish Shahane on why police in India are focussed more on maintaining order rather than upholding the law is worth your time.

That cost includes official backing given to conservative community leaders, and a tolerance for groups that break the law, stopping trains and blocking roads in protest, for instance. This tolerance nudges groups that might have preferred less intrusive forms of demonstration toward civil disobedience, for only the threat of the mob gains the attention and respect of the authorities.

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