The attack on the last bastion: Justice A. P. Shah

Over the decades, after much reflection and repair, from both within and outside the judiciary, those dark days have been seemingly left behind. But what worried us then has now re-emerged to torment us again. The present move — of attempting to undermine and discredit the judiciary, as seen in the comments — is part of the larger mission to make the executive the most powerful entity. Today, executive accountability is a thing of memory, for no one raises any questions about its actions.

Since 2014, the Government has undertaken a well-crafted, deliberate takedown of various institutions and mechanisms that could hold the executive accountable. Its efforts may not be as brazen as the Indira Gandhi-led government, but the same ends are being achieved: the state is rendered practically comatose, and the executive, most often, has the upper hand.

Parallels can be drawn with ‘elected autocracies’, where elected governments use the very institutions integral to democracy to kill democracy itself and destroy civil liberties. We have heard nothing of the Lokpal since. The National Human Rights Commission has been made dormant. Investigation agencies are misused at the slightest opportunity, with action against activists, journalists, students, political opponents, or anyone who protests against the government.

The Election Commission of India appears to have been clearly compromised. The Information Commission is almost non-functional. The list is long and disturbing. Others who can hold the executive accountable — academia, the press, and civil society — have also been systematically emasculated. Universities are under attack. An unbiased mainstream fourth estate in India no longer exists, and the media operates mostly as a propaganda machine. Civil society, too, is being slowly but surely strangled…