Justice in Jeopardy

Lady Justice has for ages donned a blindfold balancing the scales of truth and fairness. However have we been able to uphold her quintessential essence?

Some statistics

Our Judicial system is in doldrums. In March 2010, Justice V V Rao, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh High Court judge, is known to have said that it would take around 320 years to clear more than 31 million cases pending in the various courts across the country. Also, it was said at the time of independence by the then chief justice that around 5% of the judiciary is corrupt; the last chief justice raised the number to 65%! That certainly clears the picture, doesn’t it?

Earl Warren quoted ‘It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive’; question is do we have the spirit? The state of affairs within India is not what our freedom fighters might have envisioned. However, here we are today, living in a society which is fragile with much to retrospect and improve upon; our judicial system certainly being one. Yes it needs a complete overhaul which we can proudly pass on.

Never ending wait for Justice!

If you file a lawsuit or are even indicted in one; it more or less goes on for the better part of your life. Needless to say if you are a politician or the progeny of a rich industrialist; it would only be a matter of days before you would be off to some foreign country under some false pretext while your lawyer keeps making appearances for you in the ‘temple of justice’. But if unfortunately you are a commoner; you would need to take time out of your struggle for a decent life to attend the proceedings; which believe me would go nowhere. That apart you would be looked at skeptically by those around you. Yes that pretty much sums up the judiciary and the so called ‘judicial system’ that we Indians inherited!

Is the talk of justice just a facade?

We have been witness to several incidents happening all around the country; cases of corruption or murder, going on for years but only a handful of those guilty being convicted. It’s a norm to see a glaring red ticker across our television screens, screaming breaking news every hour – rapes, murders, molestations, corruption, and a plethora of crime but seldom punishment. The predicament is so appalling that nobody fears the law as Justice in this country can be cheaply bought or easily abused.

Repulsive Judicial System!

Our Judicial structure is being taken advantage of; abused by those that commit heinous transgressions and break laws. The tale doesn’t end there; we have the judges and lawyers, with exceptions ofcourse, that have bartered their integrity for immoral and unethical benefits. To top it all we Indians have this innate quality to first break laws irrespective of its magnitude; then ridicule people, making their lives a living hell if entangled with the police and judiciary.

Apart from that our system repels witnesses and hence a lot of cases end up in the wrong spiraling loop as Langdale very aptly noted that ‘If witnesses are in this way deterred from coming forward in aid of legal proceedings, it would be impossible that justice can be administered. It would be better that the doors of the Courts of justice were at once closed.’

‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through’- Jonathan Swift.

A few months back, a pregnant woman Kshama Chopra was killed when a BMW rammed the car she was travelling in. Do you recall what happened to the accused? He was granted bail by submitting a bond of Rs 50,000; yes the paltry price of lives of ordinary people these days. Doesn’t it poorly reflect on the mere context of ‘justice’ in our society today? Why is it so horribly easy to dodge and play with the laws in this country!

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!!

Remember the Jessica Lal Murder, it was an open and shut case but it took around eleven years for the sentence to stand. Killed in the presence of ample witnesses, it took death of both her parents and complete upheaval of her sister’s life before some sort of justice could be done.  Ofcourse, even that is debatable as Manu Sharma still gets parole at his whims and fancies. Faulty laws, most definitely! Infact the conviction came around when the media fought along with the family and the rest of the country for a valid outcome; doesn’t it make you wonder what would happen to you and me if entangled in this knotty judicial system?

A powerful and wealthy man in India is not guilty till charges are proved against him but similar is not the fate of hoi polloi like you and me. Our lives are as good as over the moment we get tangled in this messy trinity of courts, lawyers and investigative agencies. Is this what happens when the system is fault and bias free? I certainly think not!

Is our Judiciary truly independent?

Our Judiciary is supposed to be Independent of executive and legislative branches. Well is it really? What independence do we talk about where politics hinders a straight off execution of justice? Ajmal Kasab is the biggest example of what utter nonsense goes on within the Halls of Justice and how the political authorities of the country control it. He has been caught on camera killing innocent civilians; he was on a mission to carnage and by now should have been hanged for good! Would it be blasphemous to expedite his trial atleast to give a befitting answer to the blatant attack we were subjected to? If Sadam Husain could be executed why can’t Kasab? What is the Supreme Court waiting for to uphold his death penalty? This paralysis, this sheer inaction doesn’t it enunciate the despicable state of our Judiciary?

The fading light of Justice!

Ruma Pal a well known emissary of Indian Judicial system slammed the courts for what she christened ‘seven sins’. In her words, Injudicious conduct; hypocrisy; exploited secrecy; plagiarism and prolixity; self arrogance; professional arrogance and Nepotism is what is the decree of our judges and courts.

We have heard over and over again how there is the need for reforms; to enforce public belief in the system and to set the wrong to right. Generations have passed but the only thing that has happened is an increase in the backlog! Is it so hard to bring a change in India? Other nations have done it; why can’t we? Is it merely the scale of reforms that is required or is it that we just do not have the will to do it? Are we so apathetic towards such an important aspect of our life as citizens of this nation?

What is the need of the hour?

An efficient judiciary with unbiased and honest judges; an investigating agency that doesn’t harass the witnesses or anybody involved in the case; laws that cannot be evaded easily by those guilty and a system in which a lawsuit doesn’t become a family inheritance; a swift and competent judicial system- yes all these are ingredients that could pave way to an order we as a nation deserve. Will this ever be achieved or will it always remain a Utopian dream; I don’t know! But I certainly know that this will form the basis of a socio-political and legal system that will create the society that is most definitely the need of the hour.

Our Dream!!

Having said all that, I must also acknowledge that there is a section of the Judiciary which has still kept alive a glimmer of hope; that someday the system as a whole will mend its ways. We need the dawn when one doesn’t have to spend one’s entire life and still not see justice being done. We need the sun to rise on the horizon on a day when Justice is not anybody’s to buy. We need to awake and breathe in the air which is fragrant with the droplets of hope for a fairer society; for a just society and for a system in the form of our courts, lawyers and judges which upholds these. 

Let us beckon an India where ‘Case Closed’ is heard more often and the guilty however powerful are punished! Let our Courts become Courts of Justice instead of Hollow Corridors of Confused Laws where equality stands tall as William Penn rightly said ‘Justice is justly represented blind, because she sees no difference in the parties concerned. She has but one scale and weight, for rich and poor, great and small.


*This post has been written for my Team, The Bengaluru Bloggers’ Bistro as part of the IBL- The Battle of Blogs, sponsored by http://www.writeupcafe.com/. Join in at the official website http://www.indianbloggersleague.com/ and the page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IndianBloggersLeague.

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