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Perspectives

I know the rules, okay?

Imagine this, a warm sunny Monday morning you have a day off from school/office for whatever reason and for no particular reason at all you decide that the kite you made by yourself as a kid should not simply be an article of aesthetic in your apartment, rather it will take flight today because that is what you want to do. And voila, an hour later you’re the world’s happiest kite-flier, enjoying the quaint views of the city from the terrace in your Ray-Bans, a white t-shirt and SpongeBob boxers and most importantly flying that oddly shaped green kite that you made as a kid. Sounds wholesome, right? Next thing you know you’re sitting in lockup in the police station awaiting trial for a criminal offence.

Why do you sound so shocked? Oh, right you don’t know about the Aircraft Act of 1934 which says that any aircraft (any machine which can take support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the air) cannot be flown without government clearance. But again, that’s none of my business. *sips tea*

Now, for all the kite flying enthusiasts out there, this may seem a little shocking, but it goes without saying that the example is an exaggerated version of the real consequences – none. The Aircraft Act was passed 85 years ago and under completely different circumstances, so laws like these hold no relevance in today’s society. So, anyone flying a kite or a balloon would not be at risk of prosecution from the state. Yet, they exist and have not been removed from the constitution for reasons unknown. While this law may sound ridiculous it is in fact very real and technically people can still be prosecuted for violating it. However, what’s weirder is that it is not the only one of its kind. For example, there is no uniform legal drinking age in India, every state decides the appropriate drinking age for its own territory and it isn’t centralised, but you already knew this, didn’t you? In some states, the legal age is 18 whereas places like Maharashtra place the age limit at 25 which implies that in some parts of the country, the laws allow for people to get married, but does not prohibits the consumption of alcohol.

Now, the government expects people to abide by these laws *ahem ahem* and are strictly punishable if people go against them, but as is evident not everybody feels the need to follow it because it seems insignificant, so in a manner it is fair to say that these laws non-functional. They do not alter or affect our daily lives greatly and we continue without a care in the world.

But there are some laws that harm the independence that the constitution swore to protect. For example, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act passed in 1958 gave the Indian military forces to maintain public order in areas of instability or hostility. In theory, it sounds like this noble and only makes sense since it is the military’s job to keep the country secure at all times, but there is a lot more to this law than meets the eye. This act grants authorities the powers to detain a person without any trial or process for any amount of time even on a mere suspicion of threat to security of the region. What’s more is that a person persecuted under this law is not allowed access to legal procedures nor will the person receive any form of compensation in case of wrongful detainment.

This sounds horrendous in theory, but the people in the North-East have been going through this torture for over 60 years, and the law was amended for Jammu and Kashmir in 1990. People from these regions have subjects of human right violations for decades now, but most of us are silent spectators or are unaware.

This is the scariest part about our country – it’s a wild nation. There is so much happening at once, there is unfathomable chaos that it is hard to keep track of anything in such a strenuous environment. But it is our duty as citizens to be aware of our surroundings because these laws affect all of us and we don’t know when we may the next victim of a ridiculous law that helps keep the government’s agenda(s) afloat. Educate yourself. Be woke, kid.

-Aayush Mohanan

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