Jayalalitha must now release Kovan, the Tamil singer, immediately and unconditionally and drop the trumped up criminal charges against him ( of sedition etc ), but evidently she seems unwilling to uphold the Constitution ( to which she has taken an oath ), part of which is Article 19(1)(a), which guarantees to all citizens freedom of speech and expression.
I had thought that she had matured and mellowed down, but evidently I was mistaken. What was the offence of Kovan for which he was arrested at 2 a.m. ? That he criticized her for not imposing prohibition and for some other things. But in a democracy surely the people have a right to criticize the government.
In feudal times the king was supreme, and the people were his subjects. Hence the people had no right to criticize the king.,
In a democracy, however, this relationship is reversed. Now it is the people who are supreme, and all state authorities, whether President of India, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, other Ministers and Judges, Chief Ministers, bureaucrats, police, etc are nothing but the servants of the people. Surely the masters ( the people ) have a right to criticize the servants ( the state authorities ) if they think the servants are not functioning properly..
Jayalalitha's action is reminiscient of Mamata Banerjee's equally despotic and arbitrary action of getting Prof. Mahapatra arrested for posting cartoons about her on the social media, or of the recent circular of the Maharashtra police ( subsequently withdrawn ) stating that any criticism of the government will be treated as sedition.
It is not only Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution but also the International Covenant of Political and Human Rights, which India ratified in 1979, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Of course this right, like all rights, is not absolute. But as held by the Supreme Court in Sri Indra Das vs. State of Assam ( see online ) , it is only when there is an imminent threat of violence etc ( the clear and present danger test of the celebrated Justice Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court ) that the right can be interfered with. Kovan had not done anything which posed an imminent threat of violence. He had only demanded closing of liquor shops as he thought that drinking of alcohol did damage to society. .
I am myself not in favour of prohibition, as experience of Prohibition in America in the 1920s has shown it increases crime ( the Mafia ). But people have a right to express their opinion.
If Jayalalitha persists in such high handed and unconstitutional behaviour I am afraid she is inviting action by the President of India under Article 356 of the Constitution
As regards the police officers and policemen who carried out this illegal order there is something I wish to tell them.
In the Nuremburg Trials after the Second World War the Nazi war criminals took the plea that ' orders are orders ', i.e. they were only carrying out the orders of their political superior Hitler. This plea was rejected, and most of them were sentenced to be hanged. Policemen and other authorities must not carry out illegal orders, such as the one given in Kovan's case, and if they do, they are liable to be criminally prosecuted and given harsh punishment