The Indian Supreme Court makes so much sense at times that it makes me compulsively check if I have slept through the flight to some utopic times in the distant future.
For a judiciary system which found itself at the receiving end of so much ire in 2013 due to its ruling in favour of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, to later come up with iconic rulings like the recognition of the third gender and now the decision to eradicate Section 66A of the IT act, terming it ‘unconstitutional’, is indeed quite significant if one is to predict the kind of future India is headed toward.
Michel Foucault once said that, “Power is tolerable only on condition that it masks a substantial part of itself. Its success is proportional to an ability to hide its own mechanisms.”
It is either our good fortune or bad that India as a community has had the habit of putting power on display quite often and eventually falling in its own trap, but the present ruling against Section 66A seems to be a result a huge effort put in to bring down a law which hampers India’s constitutional right of Freedom of Speech.
Common in almost all arrests made under Section 66A in the recent past, was the presence of a political commentary which was not received well by those it was aimed at. Who doesn’t remember Aseem Trivedi’s ‘seditious’ cartoons? And the Palghar girls? They sure did tell what they thought about Bal Thackerey’s funeral and Mumbai’s shut down.
Despite all the arrests and all the protests, the only ones who became the butt of all jokes were not those who bluntly shared their point of view on social platforms on the internet. Instead, India picked out its Mamata Banerjees, Azam Khans and Narendra Modis very carefully and targeted them.
It doesn’t make sense any longer for political parties or corporate giants to invest all their money in acquiring media firms because media can no longer be controlled. Each arrest gave rise to thousands of tweets ridiculing and mocking India’s politicians and institutions; even more infuriating cartoons and a renewed debate about internet censorship.
And today, after 21 petitions the law stands changed. Even though India is still ‘partly free’ with a rank of 30 out of 65 nations when it comes to internet censorship, it is presumably safe to suggest that we seem to be on the journey to a better rank. And today after many days it doesn’t seem like such a big problem for Reliance Industries Limited to take over Network 18. “Truth shall prevail.”