Sadhguru on Free Speech and the Basics of Governance

Recently I watched the spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev (also known as Sadhguru) being interviewed by Times Now in their weekly show Frankly Speaking. One of his comments at the end of the show raised my hackles. He said that those people who are talking of dividing the country are not human beings and should be forced to accept state hospitality (i.e thrown into jail).

I believe in free speech and freedom of the individual. I think that these freedoms are necessary for scientific progress and curtailing abuse of power be people in authority. These freedoms were part of the main reason why the countries of the West have advanced in economic, military and political power over the past 4 or 5 centuries.

But we must accept that if freedom can be used for good then it can also be misused. Mischievous people can create trouble using the rights and privileges guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution. If we have decided that we want the advantages of free speech then we must live with the disadvantages and inconveniences as well.

So I was getting ready to lambast Sadhguru for his comments. But before writing the article I watched the video of his interview a second time on YouTube.

On this second viewing I understood points which I had failed to notice earlier. Sadhguru had also spoken about the dysfunctional civil and criminal justice system. He said that there are laws against sedition and defamation but a person who approaches the courts for justice will be put to more inconvenience than the person who committed the offence. Corruption is rampant. And if, despite all this, you get justice in the end it will be after 15 or 20 years. At that time it will cease to have meaning. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Sadhguru had mentioned these points forcefully and urged that action should be taken in order to remedy these very basic failings in our society.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (in his essay on Compensation) has mentioned that if the law does not do its job then private vengeance will be the result. Meaning that people will themselves act to remedy injustices done to them instead of approaching the authorities (i.e the police and the judiciary) for justice.

In India sometimes we see the sight of powerful people (in politics or otherwise) sometimes acting as extra constitutional authorities to deliver justice to the public. This is true of the Naxalites, Dawood Ibrahim, and perhaps Balasaheb Thackeray. People approach them because they – with good reason – lack faith in the judicial system.

Sadhguru was making a valid point. It is because laws are not enforced that people become bold enough to commit sedition or criminal defamation. They know that – if they get political patronage – it is very unlikely that they will see the inside of a courtroom (much less the inside of a prison).

Sadhguru was not recommending vigilante justice. But unless the law does its job people will misuse the freedoms given to them under the Constitution. And we all accept that there must be certain restrictions on our freedom if we are to live in a civilized society. One cannot commit a murder, for example, because he is a free man.

We need a well functioning Civil and Criminal Justice system in the country. No political party has undertaken this much needed reform. Thus we, as a country, are unable to protect ourselves against people who are guilty of sedition.

Thanks for reading. Please explore this blog for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. If you liked this article then please share it on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to post your comments or contact me.

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