Fewer laws, more efficient enforcement

Issue 19 - Oct 2008
Ravikiran Rao

…what we are seeing instead is a demand for “stricter” laws. That is a bad idea for more or less the same reasons. Given the number of laws on the books already, most Indians are in violation of at least a few at any point in time. This is a happy situation for policemen who can throw cordons after every outrage, apprehend motorcyclists for not wearing helmets or cybercafe owners with insufficient documentation and claim it as progress in the investigation. But the unintended consequence of this is an evasive and uncooperative citizenry, which in turn will fuel the police force’s demand for stricter laws.

A law-abiding citizenry that is generally on the side of the police is a vital weapon in the fight terrorism. To construct this weapon, one needs fewer laws, more effective and less arbitrary
enforcement. It is difficult to see what the alternatives are.

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