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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 14 New Delhi March 21, 2020

PM on Corona Crisis, Gogoi in Rajya Sabha

Tuesday 24 March 2020, by SC


Shorn of any partisan approach the PM’s address to the nation yesterday on the corona crisis across the country highlighting the need to comprehend in full measure the enormity of the danger before us was indeed welcome as he spoke, for once, as the PM of the entire nation, a task he has seldom performed with the desired effect. On March 19 he spoke like a national leader underscoring the words “sankalp” (resolve) and “sayyam” (restraint), most necessary in the prevailing scenario. Indeed he delivered the cautionary notes while striking the right chord when the prospect of escalation of the coronavirus in the days ahead stares us in the face. His exhortation to the citizens to observe the “janata curfew” on March 22 and audible demonstration of respect for those maintaining the nation’s basic services were praiseworthy although this had been earlier played out in Spain and Italy and was a borowed idea; even then one found nothing wrong with it in the backdrop of the unfolding grave global situation in this regard.

The increase in the number of coronavirus cases has caused quite an alarm. The possibility of an actual spurt in such cases has of late grown phenomenally as a consequence. Thus there is a view that a total lockdown for a few days was essential. However, the PM refused to pay heed to that suggestion. The outcome of this could be disastrous in a brief span of time, observers feel.

Meanwhile, retired Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha has resulted in a storm with the Congress opposing the move and seeking to shame the erstwhile CJI in Parliament before walking out of the Rajya Sabha in protest while Gogoi was taking his oath as a member of the Upper House. Significantly, Gogoi’s stand on the issue has been sharply criticised in the media with some publications opining that with this the Law has been largely compromised and its effect would be felt in a big way in the near future. Sections of the media have also quoted Gogoi himself as the latter had in the past pointed out that post-retirement appointments of judges were a “scar on the independence of the judiciary”. The most valid question now is: how did that observation suddenly undergo a sea-change with Gogoi’s acceptance of his new appointment?

March 20 S.C.

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