The justice delivery system is one of the pillars of a robust democracy. But when the government and its law enforcement machinery use the law to arbitrarily apply it to favour vested interests, the institutions of a democracy crumble brick by brick, one case by one case

The latest case is of two college students from Palghar in Thane who were arrested for posting an innocuous-reading message on Facebook, the social networking site. Apparently, some members of the local Shiv Sena unit were “hurt” and they lodged a police complaint. Ignoring every other crime in the town, the Palghar police arrested the two girls for hurting religious sentiments, among other things, and produced them in court on Monday.

Her uncle’s orthopaedic clinic was ransacked and property and equipment worth Rs 10 lakh damaged. Shockingly, the police say they have no idea who ransacked the place, and have registered a case against “unknown people”.

The girl who posted the Facebook message and her friend who “liked” it, were forced to apologise. The atmosphere of intimidation and fear has reached alarming proportions.

As our People’s Charter says today, there is no place for either fear or intimidation in any democracy, and we should use all force available to the common citizen to oppose the arbitrary implementation and application of the laws.

It is not for nothing that the common public’s faith in the justice delivery system is fast eroding, putting a question mark on the governance standards in the country. If there is any movement needed in this country, it is that all the laws that put civil liberties in peril should be repealed, or struck down by the Supreme Court, after the due process of the law is adhered to.

Until every citizen’s faith in governance is restored and the ecosystem of fear obliterated, India will never be a true democracy.