News Paper Article - 16/09/2021
01 Jan 1970
Category : Daily Current Affairs
In world's largest democracy the word the ‘vigilante’ reminds of the scenes of people stopping cattle trucks and harassing drivers, or video filming themselves by accusing love Jihad or beating up the couples on valentine's day. Vigilante in India is considered as bad and anti-democratic. Such people lack constitutional values and law and order come heavily down by such vigilante people.
But apparently Respected in the US:
But it is shocking to know that in the world’s oldest democracy the word Vigilante is considered only a half bad attitude while the other half favor’s it. One form of vigilante in the US is the ‘citizen arrester’ who enjoys legal status and can arrest any person who breaks the law. Back in England right from the 12th century, a citizen arrester can arrest a person on behalf of the Monarch now called a state if he breaks the law. There should be a procedure that should be followed in case of wrongful arrest but in the case of a citizen arrester, it is considered as a person who follows his duty as per the law. Because of such potential accuse there has been a debate in the US regarding the scope and eligibility to become a citizen arrester.
The ‘Heartbeat Bill’
Rather than reducing the necessity of the citizen arrester, the recent decisions made in the Texas legislature show that they are encouraging such practices. Two cases are particularly needed to refer. The first is the latest bill introduced in Senate Bill 8 (SB8), in Texas named Heart Bill (signed into law by Governor Greg Abbot on 2021 May) which forbids abortion after 6 weeks when the fetus registers the heartbeat. This law produced a heavy debate in the US between pro-life and pro-abortion groups, focusing on medical science, bioethics, law, and women’s right, to refine the judgment of the Roe and Wade of 1973.
There are five aspects that matter in this law. The first is the women have no right over their body and banning abortion after 6 weeks is too early as many women even did not know they are pregnant at this stage. Second, there will be a problem with women who are victims of incest and rapist. Now they have to carry the pregnancy even they want to get aborted. The third is the helpers such as Uber drivers who take pregnant women after 6 weeks for abortion including the receptionist, nurse, and doctor can also be sued. Fourth is declining by the Supreme Court of the USA in a five versus four votes for this challenging Anti-abortion law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the court should not ignore the rights of women as it is one of the constitutional obligations. The fifth is the legal device that does not permit the state officials from enforcing the law to citizens who can sue the abortion providers for performing abortions and are also allowed to collect $1000 as a civil payout together with legal fees. Such a person can be from anywhere and he doesn't need to have a connection with the abortions. Here begin the role of a citizen arrester.
Of all the 5 aspects it is necessary to understand the fifth problem with this law as recently Texas legislation favors the role and duties of citizen arrester. Roe and Wade's innovation was to give women rights which this law fails to achieve. This law shows that even a matured country like the US fails to settle the law and is unable to redesign it so that it can be religiously preserved. Greenhouse commented in the New York Times on September 9, 2021, asking who permit God to enter the legislature chamber. Such a question also arises in India.
The second case in Texas is related to the journey of voting reforms till the voting law. SB1, the bill which is recently signed by the governor bans drive-through voting, distribution of mail-in applications, and 24 hours voting. Several other rules such as the requirement of a new ID in voting through the mail, monthly checks, etc were also added. To halt such bills the minority Democrats who feel that such changes would be a disadvantage for minority voters went to Washington DC for the suppression of this law. The Speaker soon signed a warrant against the arrest of the missing representatives and produce them. It was shocking to hear that some representatives said that they are less worried about getting arrested by officials but more by the citizen arresters.
In an overview of this article regarding Vigilante, there is less scope for citizen arresters. Professor Ira P.Robbins discussed that the power of citizen arresters should only be limited to a small category of people such as shopkeepers, private police force, and out-of-jurisdiction police, and should be abolished in other cases. But unfortunately, Texas is moving in another way. It was written in a letter on SB8 that can vigilantes use their private rights that are given by the constitution then the oldest and largest democracy will face a heavier problem today.
Posted by : IAS Target