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Be you ever so high, Law is above you

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    By   Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

Donald J Trump, former President  has created prolific records in his career. None more ignominious than being indicted by the US Justice Department. The indictment on 13th July,2023 at Florida in USA. He is the first US President in its history of over two centuries,  to face such an indictment.

The US is  a flawed democracy. Special interests, lobbying and money talks in politics. And it cannot be more polarized than it has ever been and  the divide is telling on democracy as an institution. And this indictment may exacerbate those fissure. Nevertheless, in the ultimate analysis, US can feel proud in this shameful moment of history. Why?

In 2022, Special Counsel Jack Smith was appointed by the Justice Department to investigate allegations that former President Donald Trump had mishandled classified documents.The investigation focused on Trump’s actions while he was in office, including his removal of classified documents from the White House and his attempts to destroy them.

In June 2023, Smith announced that he had found sufficient evidence to indict Trump on charges of mishandling classified information.Trump is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on July 13, 2023.

The charges against Trump are serious and could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. If convicted, Trump would be the first former president to be imprisoned for a federal crime.Another record!

The indictment is a significant development in the ongoing investigation into Trump’s activities while he was in office. It is also a sign that the Justice Department is committed to holding Trump accountable for his actions.

The indictment has been met with mixed reactions. Some have praised the Justice Department for taking action against Trump, while others have criticized the indictment as politically motivated.Only time will tell how the case will play out. However, the indictment is a major development in the Trump saga and it is sure to be closely followed by the public.

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What are the charges? Trump removed classified documents from the White House and took them to his Mar-a-Lago resort.Trump attempted to destroy classified documents by shredding them or flushing them down the toilet.Trump lied to investigators about his actions with respect to classified documents.

The indictment is based on a two-year investigation by Special Counsel Smith. The investigation included interviews with more than 200 witnesses and the review of millions of pages of documents.

The indictment is a major victory for Special Counsel Smith and the Justice Department. It is a sign that the Justice Department is committed to holding Trump accountable for his actions. The indictment is also a major setback for Trump. It is a sign that his legal troubles are far from over.

How can America be proud of such a plunge into the depths of decency, decorum, dignity, integrity of those in office? The expression “Be you ever so high, the law is above you” is often attributed to Thomas Fuller, an English churchman and historian from the 17th century. It reflects the idea that in a democracy, no one is above the law, regardless of their social or political standing.

The sentiment expressed in the quote emphasizes the principle of equality before the law, meaning that even those in positions of power or authority are subject to the same legal framework as ordinary citizens. It serves as a reminder that no individual, regardless of their status, should be able to act with impunity or disregard the established laws of the land.

This expression embodies the fundamental tenet of the Rule of Law, which is a cornerstone of democratic societies. It ensures that all individuals, including government officials, are accountable for their actions and are bound by the same legal standards. It helps maintain a just and balanced society, where no one is exempt from legal obligations and everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.

The Rule of Law is a fundamental principle in any democracy, ensuring that the government and its citizens are bound by a set of established laws and regulations. It encompasses several key aspects:

All individuals, regardless of their social status, should be subject to the same laws and receive equal treatment under the legal system.Legal certainty: Laws should be clear, accessible, and predictable, allowing citizens to understand their rights and obligations. This promotes stability and confidence in the legal system.

Courts and judges should be independent from political influence, ensuring fair and unbiased adjudication.

Courts and judges should be independent from political influence, ensuring fair and unbiased adjudication. This helps prevent arbitrary exercise of power.Public officials, including those in positions of power, should be accountable for their actions and decisions. Transparency in governance fosters trust and allows citizens to hold their leaders accountable.

The Rule of Law promotes a just and orderly society, where laws are consistently applied, individual rights are protected, and institutions operate within defined legal boundaries.

Shame and Fame go together on this occasion. Rule of Law prevails in US. And be you ever so high, the law shall always be above you. A former President, the most powerful being on earth, while in office, getting indicted is no ordinary occurrence. Politics apart, it is an affirmative vindication of all that is glorious in a democracy.

There is a lot for us to learn. Even the lowliest of our politicians, when sought to be indicted proclaims it was ‘political conspiracy’. And law takes a slow course and is mostly derailed. Trump alleged political and vindictive conspiracy too. Yet, Rule of law and nemesis have caught up with him.

Irrespective of whether Donald J Trump gets convicted or not,  by a proud peer group of 12 jurors from the local community in Florida, the very occurrence is an iconic moment to savor in and for any democratic polity. The star spangled banner can fly high, for sure.

(Writer is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)


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