The Supreme Court has rejected a PIL filed by advocate M L Sharma against the suspension of Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension. Justices H L Dattu and M Y Eqbal contend that the IAS officer is capable of filing her own counter-case against the suspension and against the UP Government. They also said that this was a services matter. (In an interesting co-incidence, this matter was also raised before three other benches on the same day. This must be a practically unprecedented occurrence.)
To be fair, the suspension of a single IAS officer; in this case Durga Shakti Nagpal; is technically a services matter. The Justices are also correct in saying that an IAS officer is certainly capable of fighting her own battle and registering her own counter-case against her suspension. But in sticking strictly to the book, the Supreme Court has missed the forest for the trees. Nagpal’s case has gone far beyond a person. Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension and the subsequent dialogue in the media about her and her suspension have captured the nation.
Once in a while along comes an act which could have been a statistic but instead becomes a torchbearer. It is the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. To a nation fed up of politicians’ high-handedness, dictatorial behaviour, scams and corruption; the suspension of a young, upright IAS officer doing the right thing has been like a spark on dry hay. The fire has spread beyond Uttar Pradesh. The grounds for suspension are flimsy to say the least. Demolition of a wall that could lead to communal tensions. A demolition that was within the orders of Supreme Court. A demolition that the purported aggrieved party, the wakf board, has denied. Clearly, this suspension is only about protecting the sand mafia. Allegedly there have been other suspensions and transfers of IAS and IPS officers across the country to protect various mafias – but this is the one that has driven people to participate and act. And such an outcry deserves to be heard.
Durga Shakti Nagpal today is a poster girl against all that ails politics. She is a reason to fight to get rid of a greater malaise. Revoking her suspension is a people’s fight. By rejecting the PIL filed against her suspension, the Supreme Court has refused to address the issue of People v/s Politicians. It is a known fact that law has to follow the rules of the book, but there are times when the book has to be re-written. It would be foolish to limit the Nirbhaya case to just the unfortunate girl, Jyoti. That horrendous and bestial act is about the safety of all women in the country. It has led to the government at least starting proceeding on new, stronger anti-rape laws via the Nirbhaya Act. Similarly, to limit Nagpal’s suspension to just Durga Shakti would be foolish. It is about encouraging and protecting all those in the civil services to do the right thing fearlessly. It will be a shame if Nagpal is left to languish and fight her battle singly and for eternity. That would mean that in the future officers in the civil services will choose to bend rather than correct.