this powerful op-ed for The Nation. In part:
The tussle highlights an inherent disconnect in our societal ethos, and brings to surface the ideological issues that are brewing at the core of our national identity.
The first set of issues, voiced by those who value the ‘results’ more than the ‘process’, follow a familiar trajectory: Is ‘law’ more valuable than ‘life’? Should those who murder our children be afforded the respect and compassion of our laws? Does the constitutional empire of fundamental rights extend even to those who seek to destroy the Constitution, and all that it stands for? Does the State have a responsibility to protect those who seek to destroy it? Should law come to the rescue of those who are lawless? What good would it be to uphold a law that protects those who have a gun to our head? Why wait for ‘conclusive’ evidence, when it comes in the form of a suicide attack? What good is a smoking gun, if it comes in the form of a mushroom cloud?
The counter narrative, emanating from (leftist) human rights activists, argues an equally passionate trajectory: The law is not an instrument of convenience, to be applied at our leisure. Its letter and spirit becomes even more imperative in times of exigencies. What good would the law be, if its command dwindles in the face of adversity? How better can we test the tenacity of our constitutional protections than by applying them to the very people who offend its fabric? What would be the virtue of ‘equality’ and the ‘due process of law’, if these are only applied, timidly, among a select few? In fact, is it not our brutish desire and animalistic instinct of revenge that the law is designed to protect against? And if so, should the command of law, and its due process not be even more jealously applied when dealing with the alleged terrorists?
The answers to these questions cannot simply be extrapolated from legal doctrines. Nor can they be conjured from heated moments of passion. These issues rest at the core of who we are as a people, and who we wish to become as a nation. Yet, sadly, there is no national consensus concerning this ideology.It seems clear that the country is quite consciously navigating a "constitutional moment."