November 23, 2023
The name of the country is trivial here. In 19th and 20th century, the British had become the largest empire in the history of humankind. They controlled 23 percent of the world population and acquired 24 percent of Earth’s total land area. They ruled over 50 countries. This country too had suffered and struggled under British colonialism. It was claimed this country was rich in wealth, and was left poor by the British when they pulled out. Figures suggest the British plundered trillions during their tenure in this country. Over 70 years have passed since their withdrawal. The Constitution was adopted and democracy was introduced in this country in 1950. Considered as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, every ruling party had taken credit by bragging the success and concealing the failures.
A large group of people had gathered outside the court of law. News had spread stating someone had filed a case against the country. No one knew if it was fake or real. The atmosphere inside and outside was buzzing with murmuring noise. Representatives of the media had reached the place with anticipation and excitement. Until now, the plaintiff’s identity had remained unknown.
“All rise, the honorable judge is entering the courtroom,” The bailiff announced.
The bailiff, the staff, and attendees stood on their feet until the judge was comfortably seated. Then the bailiff allowed the rest of the people to occupy their seats.
“The court is now in session. Democracy v. Country," declared the bailiff.
The people in the court followed each other’s gazes. The whispering sound momentarily stayed.
“Order, order…” The judge hit the gavel on his desk. The courtroom returned to silence.
“Are the plaintiff, defendant and their lawyers present here?” The judge asked.
“The government of the country has been indicted. I represent the defendant,” The lawyer rose from his seat and replied.
“What about the plaintiff and his attorney?” The judge looked around.
There was no response.
“Who is the person called democracy? I do not think he is present in this courtroom. I am allowing five minutes of extended time. If the plaintiff or his attorney fail to appear, the case may be dismissed. FTA is a serious misdemeanor, punishable by jail term or fine plus the cost of the court,” The judge was visibly irritated.
“Your honor, it appears like this is a prank played by some mischief mongers. I do not think there is a person with the name Democracy.” The defense attorney got to his feet and expressed his opinion.
“Who authorized this case for court trial?” The judge asked the clerk.
“You have signed the document, your honor,” The clerk instantly replied.
“Are you sure?” The judge pulled and inspected the paper. “How is it possible? The document says the plaintiff was born in the constitution. Parliament house is mentioned as his permanent address. There must be some mistake. If the person with the name democracy or his attorney are present, please come forward.”
“They are absent, your honor,” The defense attorney said with a chuckle.
“I am present in this courtroom, your honor. My name is democracy. I am the plaintiff. The case against the country was filed by me,” The voice sounded fragile as if afraid to be heard.
It left everyone shell shocked for a while. The attendees stretched themselves to have a glimpse at the source of the voice. They found none. The judge was visibly shaken. He took three quick sips from his glass of water.
“Why can’t I see you?” The judge astonishingly asked.
“That is strange, your honor. I do not know if I was murdered or kidnapped. Slowly and surely, I have become invisible. In search of my existence, I want justice, your honor. That’s why I filed this case,” Democracy instantly replied.
“What are your charges against the country?” Engulfed in a state of confusion, the judge hastily asked.
“I can explain your honor,” The voice continued. “I exist in the constitution. However, I am completely incapable of being seen in the common man’s life. I want my existence to be reestablished. I want freedom!”
“Democracy is seeking for freedom! Sounds funny. I am sure someone is playing a prank, your honor,” The defense attorney expressed his opinion. “Possibly, the sound system of the courtroom is hacked. How can we interact with someone who is invisible? How do we authenticate his identity?”
“I am present, your honor. I am invisible because I have been wronged. I need justice,” The voice pleaded.
“Can you explain how you are wronged?” The judge allowed the plaintiff to speak.
“Thank you, your honor,” The voice resonated.” The independence was given over 76 years back. The British ruled the place for about 89 years. The country formed a government that copied British constitution. The features were adopted from the constitutions of British and several other prominent countries of the world. I was born in the constitution and thereby came into existence. The British left the country. However, their fabric remained in our system. Democracy is supposed to be providing fundamental rights to all citizens. Do I really provide? What about the common man? Does he have the right to equality and the right to freedom?”
“Objection your honor,” The defense attorney refused to remain silent. “The views of this invisible man are untrue. It is his figment of imagination. We are known as the world's largest democracy. How can he say that basic rights are not given to all the citizens? These allegations are baseless.”
“I have evidence, your honor,” The reply from democracy sounded loud and clear. “Under colonialism the greatest beneficiaries were the rulers and British investors. They were the privileged class and the locals were underprivileged. The privileged enjoyed the priority, perks, and benefits. The underprivileged was the common man who struggled to make ends meet. Then the British left the country. Did anything change after independence? Except that I was born with a dream and thereby raising the expectations of the common man. We dreamt to transform this country into egalitarian society. Sad to say nothing changed. Freedom did not happen.”
“You are joking. We were free soon after the British left us,” The defense attorney jumped up.
“Soon after the British left, a local party came into power and formed the government,” The voice reverberated on the walls of the hall. “Such parties have been running this country since independence. In simple words, the browns have replaced the whites and blessed themselves with free comforts. They call themselves the VIPs. They are given free houses, free vehicles, free travelling, facilities, perks, and benefits. They never stand in a queue. They are showered with priority everywhere. If the leader is on road, the road is blocked to the common man. What right does a leader have, to allow the police to block roads and create traffic jams when he passes by? Is he worth the time of thousands of commuters? Corrupt politicians control Media and law enforcement agencies. Whoever has come into power, arrogance has crept in every time. Their attitude suggests they are above law, and the system. Common man is made to suffer and live with fear. Tell me, where do I exist, your honor?”
The defense attorney helplessly dropped his head. Expecting some noise, the judge involuntarily lifted his gavel and looked around. The courtroom was filled with pin drop silence. The judge unhurriedly placed the gavel back.
“Do you have any other charges against the country?” The judge asked without knowing how to proceed further.
“We have heard stories about how the British stole 45 trillion dollars from this country during British Raj,” The democracy invisibly continued his charges. “Do we have an account of how many trillions are looted by the country's corrupt politicians after independence? Agreed, the British did wrong things. How right are our own corrupt politicians? The British left us over 75 years back. However, our leaders borrowed the template of British attitude, greed, rule, power, and discrimination. The looting did not stop. The scams are piled up. As soon as the British left, we did not rise to free life. Our leaders complimented each other and protected themselves with facilities, priorities, and privileges. Our leaders began to enjoy the benefits, which rulers and their officials enjoyed during British Raj. The browns replaced the whites. The leaders made the common man to bow down. My existence in the constitution has no real value. I have been completely exploited by a system that was selfishly designed by our own leaders. Your honor, I need justice before I completely vanish from this country.”
“This case should be dismissed, your honor,” The defense attorney shouted at the top of his voice. “I have no doubt that the sound system is hacked by some antisocial elements. This farce is staged to create chaos and disrupt peace and harmony. How can democracy speak?”
“If I am not allowed to speak, how do I exist?” Quipped the invisible voice.
“I find logic in his repeated remarks, browns replaced the whites,” The judge nodded in agreement. “It makes sense. Tell me, how can I bring justice into your life?”
“Please give me freedom to exist, your honor,” The democracy pleaded. “There are ways. First and foremost, the law enforcement agencies and media of the country should be protected from misuse of power by the ruling government. Similarly, abuse of power such as unwarranted arrest, unlawful imprisonment, wrongful search, rape, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination should come to an end as well. An honest citizen should be allowed to live with no fear.”
“Anything else?” The judge asked curiously.
“I can breathe well if zero tolerance for corruption becomes a reality. Corrupt leaders and officials should be severely punished. The bureaucratic mindset requires a drastic change. All political leaders and government officials should be made to realize that they are servants and not masters of common man. A common man should be punished if he bows his head in front of political leaders and government officials.”
“I understand,” The judge looked at the plaintiff's empty chair. “If you have anything to add, please speak up.”
“I have something important to say in your honor,” Democracy’s voice spread across the courtroom. “The common man has become a slave of a system where priorities and privileges are primarily enjoyed by elected political leaders. This was no different during British Raj. A leader has no right to enjoy free comforts, which a common man struggles hard to earn. Other than salary, all facilities and perks should be immediately abolished. A leader should learn to wait in the queue and at the traffic signal. Roadblocks to create free passage to a leader should be abolished. A leader has no right to disrupt and create inconvenience to any citizen. He is not worth their time.”
“If such drastic changes become effective, I do not think any leader will show interest in politics, let alone running the government.” The defense attorney laughed out loudly.
The attendees were dumbstruck, no one laughed. The judge glared at the defense attorney.
“The concerns of democracy are rational,” The judge paused and continued. “He is right. So many years have passed since the British left. British legacy is alive and still kicking in this country. Our politicians enjoy free comforts at taxpayers’ cost; they continue to function under a similar structure and with a similar psyche. Rulers exploited the nation during the British Empire. It is no different now. The leaders have always enjoyed priorities and privileges. Common man remains suffocated in never-ending exploitation. Power elite groups have hijacked democracy. Without a code of ethics, democracy will not survive. I will make an appeal to the supreme court committee to undertake corrective measures to provide justice to democracy.”
“Thank you, your honor,” The democracy spoke for the last time.
The judge got up and left. The electrifying silence did not last, the atmosphere turned into susurration. There were whispers all around. Unable to comprehend what they had seen and heard; the viewers were consumed by utter disbelief.
A few days passed and no one showed the courage to report the courtroom incident through the national media. There was some fuss on ‘YouTube’ channels. The buzz slowly died down on social media. Three months after the incident a national daily reported the news about the judge’s resignation who had appealed to the Supreme Court committee to uphold democracy. The president accepted his resignation.
Thereafter the voice of democracy was never heard again in that country!