//Gujarat can’t harass IPS officers and cite federalism

Gujarat can’t harass IPS officers and cite federalism

Gujarat can’t harass IPS officers and cite federalism
16 Aug 2011

THERE is nothing untoward about the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement that the Centre can intervene on the issue of the Gujarat government taking action against two Indian Police Service officers who have tried to uncover its role in the horrific riots of 2002. After all, these are officials of a central service who serve in the state as representatives of the union of India.

It is another matter that the fear of rubbing a satrap like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the wrong way has made the Union home minister offer rather muted assistance to the two officials. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s argument that this amounts to a violation of the federal principle is bogus. The party forgets that Gujarat state is not a republic unto itself, but a member of the Union, bound by the Constitution of India. This means its government in Gujarat does not have the right to persecute police officials who question the illegal exercise of its powers.

If a Rahul Sharma deposes before the Nanavati Commission or the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court, it cannot be termed as breach of official secrecy because these bodies have been set up by a due process and it is incumbent on government officials to divulge before them information pertaining to the 2002 riots.

The BJP is perhaps unaware that since the Nuremberg trials it is a settled international principle that a government functionary cannot be forced by his superiors to commit an illegal act. Considering that by all accounts, the Modi government was guilty of many acts of omission and commission during the Gujarat riots, officials who question its policies of the period cannot be treated like lawbreakers.

Rather, the central government and the SC must shield them.

MAIL TODAY, 14 August 2011