Law, Justice and Common Man in India

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 “Bad Laws are the worst sort of Tyranny”- Edmund Burke

The preamble to the Indian Constitution declares the country as a “Sovereign Democratic Republic” ensuring justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to all its citizens or in other words securing the socio-economic and political rights of people with imbibed equality of status. Be it the Fundamental Rights or the Directive Principles of State Policy, the process of safeguarding common man’s confidence in judicial system as well as to keep in pace with the dynamics of the changing society, the constitution has furthered itself by umpteen amendments. Yet the current society still witnesses a pervasive skepticism in the Rule of Law, Government and extended form of societal democracy. Though integrity and fairness has inculcated its deep roots within the society yet its essence has lost ways in political instability, cultural anarchy, economic disorder, religious and racial conflicts to name a few.

In one of the lectures by Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir, he cited an example of Article14 of the Constitution, having resemblance to the UN declaration, which guarantees, Equality before law. However the Indian judiciary has time over time over-ruled the law book of constitution and established the conclusion- there are two kinds of law- One for the Rulers and the other for the ruled, one for the purpose of the common man and the other at the expense of a common man.

The Common man’s law is a belief “of justice prevails” that is inculcated in mind of every individual who succumbs faith and respect in the rule of law and judiciary over the decades. However it should be remembered that the same exists only in the pages of the constitution, where right rules over wrong, where every violator is placed at same footing in the eyes of law and awarded rightful punishments.

In India, every year The Common man’s law sees addition of new acts and amendments which aims at benefiting the mass at large by identifying the ills and error of the Indian judiciary- corruption, alarming rate of pending cases, under-trial of prisoners, lesser number of courts, vacancies of judges etc.

The additions by the judiciary for benefiting the “aam admi” and creating a user-friendly legal assistance is commendable. First in this context is The Right to Information Act effective from 12th October, 2005. The said act aims at promoting transparency and accountability of officials working for the Central or State Information Commission by making them answerable to common man’s question ranging in the premises of public services on filing of a petition, thereby making an attempt to negate corruption, aptly using the tool of democracy.

The next initiative aims at spreading awareness among citizens to combat consumer fraud in an inexpensive and hassle-free manner namely Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Based on the legal dictum “Caveat Emptor”- Consumer’s beware; the act protects the customers by providing simple precautions they should take while buying goods or getting services and the documentation they should preserve in case of a need to approach the consumer court.

The grievances formulating from time-ineffective judgments have been taken seriously and adoptive measures of Alternative Dispute Resolution came into effect. ADR refers to several methods of mediation, arbitration, reconciliation which is off-track from the traditional legal and administrative forums yet found effective in settling out time-effective business disputes. Cornelius Vanderbilt conceptualizes ADR Best stating “You have taken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you”.

In Anil Rai v. State of Bihar, Sethi J stated that “delay in disposal of cases facilitates the people to raise eyebrows, sometimes genuinely, which if not checked may shake the confidence of the people in this judicial system”. Hence the idea of Fast-Track Courts was generated by the 11th Law Commission which included set up of 1734 courts to be effective for 5 years till 31st march,2005 for the purpose of delivering speedy justice strictly in criminal cases. The efforts were recognized with the conviction of who’s who of the political parties namely Pappu Yadav and Mohammad Shahabuddin (Rashtriya Janata Dal), MP Surajbhan Singh (Lok Janshakti Party) among others and thus the scheme were extended for another 5 years till 31st March, 2010.

Though the novo-legal reforms in India, promises a secured future for the law-abider- yet the number of victorious victims say otherwise. The common man’s law book increases by another content page of remedy for the wronged but the ruler’s law book mocks the feeble attempt of the ordinary man to reform the power game.

Here evolves the concept of The Ruler’s Law Book- the stark reality of Indian Law, which examines the practical applicability of laws adopted and enacted, which analyzes the parameters between the written and the followed, which explores if democracy granted is democracy accessed. Thus common man learns the ugly truth of those- who learnt the law to beat the law, the superman among the ordinary man who sits at the top of the largest democracy and dictates the flawless autocracy.

True to its words “There is no such thing as free meal”, even Justice in India comes at a price. For those who can afford, it is available, for those who cannot the same is often delayed, denied and worse buried.

The following cases exemplify the fatal misappropriation of justice where a common man dreamt the “extravagant eccentricity” of trying to negate the Marxian concept of law- “the tool of coercive domination used by the one in power”. They won, they lost but they never failed to try their rights in the democracy.

After a series of misplaced files, forged post-mortem reports, failed attempts of lodging Fir’s, 400 hearings, 40 adjournments and undiluted perseverance a 20 year old battle ended with a judicial mockery, in 2010 when a beaming Shambhu Pratap Singh Rathore came out of the court sentenced with 6 months of imprisonment (later extended to 18 months) and a measly compensation of Rs1000 for molesting a 14 year old Ruchika Girhotra under his capacity of being the Inspector General of Haryana Police back in 1990. The common man was Ruchika’s father Subhas Chandra Girhotra whose apparent biggest audacity was to raise voice against the political clout which subsequently followed the expulsion, harassment and finally witnessing the suicide of his depressed daughter, his 13 year old son “Ashu” being dragged through the neighborhood naked alleged of stealing a dozen of cars, with additional charges of theft, murder to civil defamation against him. The same accounts for Madhu and Anand Prakash whose daughter Aradhana was the unfortunate eye-witness, however the threesome took the cause to the courts, pressing charges for abetting suicide and molestation which finally led the CBI to file a charge sheet on 16th November 2000 against the many-medaled Rathore. In due course of time even the media took a stand. But with the punishment sentenced, they now wonder if it was worth the fight?

3rd December, 1984 witnessed the biggest form of Industrial Catastrophe in Bhopal with lethal gas leakage from Union Crabide India Limited Company causing 20,000 casualties and 5,00,000 lakhs injured as per the official figures. But that was not the only tragedy for a year old Mohammad Abid (26 now) who lost five family members in the incident, he witnessed a second tragedy which according to the victim has been committed by the judiciary. The callous culprits namely Keshub Mahindra (Chairman), and six others were let go with a mere imprisonment of 2 years and $2000 fined on grounds of negligence and the man behind the mount of dead- Warren Anderson, CEO of UCIL was bailed and escorted out of the country on 7th December 1984. Though the judiciary continues to play the blame game as to who was responsible for Anderson’s exit from India- The Arjun Singh Government or the Rajiv Gandhi Government a significant remark was raised by senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan- “Whether we are able to extradite him or not is not important. What is important is that he should be charged, even if it is absentia”. Further another unanswered question is why the case sections were diluted from Section 304(2)- culpable homicide not amounting to murder to Section 304(A)- death as a result of negligence. With new plans of remedies recommending Rs 1,500 crore package, including enhanced compensation for the victims- Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of dead , Rs 5 lakh for the permanently disabled and Rs 3 lakh suffering from partial disability- the Indian Government is trying to provide its best possible service and apologies to the family of the victims. However the delayed compensation after 25 years and the tangling webs of unsolved mysteries to still raises an eye-brow.

Jessica lal, a model from Delhi was murdered by one Siddharth Vashist a.ka Manu Sharma, son of wealthy congressmen from Haryana, Vinod Sharma. He was formerly acquitted on 21st Feb, 2006 however with mass media forming a public opinion flashing the news in and out, the case was re-tried and the same was sentenced to life-imprisonment. Though justice prevailed yet none of Jessica’s parents were alive to witness the victory.

On January 23rd 1996 a law student namely Priyadarshini Mattoo was found raped and murdered lying dead in her Delhi Flat. The accused Santosh Kumar Singh was the son of a police inspector general and was earlier acquitted in 1999 by the Delhi High Court. However the public cried foul to the judgment and the CBI was forced to challenge the judgment. Finally on February 29th, 2000 the verdict decided in favor of the deceased and the accused was awarded capital punishment.

Examples of justice miscarriage are ample- the Murder of Satendra Dubey, Rizwanur, the Gothra Riots, The dalit Massacre at Tsundhur, A.P, The Sohrabuddin Case, Best-Bakery Case – few among the numerous. Thus the common man’s law is at its own place, with sanctions and constitutional authorities glittering away in the law books, yet wasted away in the hands of those wherein the power lies vested. The inhibition which stares the Indian judiciary right in the eye and rapes the common man of his legal benefits is the problem of corruption. The same is responsible for differentiating the law preached and the law practiced. Corruption or call it a venial extortion is explained best in Austin’s one-liner “Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely”.

Ironically in India even corruption has got a hierarchical status involving majority of individuals succumbing to public duties. Right at the top are the politicians- the reflection of the democratic tool of a common man gone violently wrong, followed by the bureaucrats, the Central and State Investigation and Police Departments to the municipalities. Or in other words busting one corruption racket leads to the exposure of a bigger inefficiency at a higher level of judicial authority; hence everybody in the system does the job of covering best.

The digits speak for themselves as 110 officers from IAS and IPS are facing trial on criminal charges in CBI cases, as on 9th April, 2010. In a clear reflection of how pretty corruption is dogging the common man, literally right under the nose of the Central government was witnessed in October, 2008, when fifteen officials belonging to New Delhi Municipal Committee, Labor and Police, were arrested for alleged bribery and extortion, from businessman.

Every Government has talked about ending the Inspector Raj. But ironically every law has added one or two more authoritative posts to the already existing plethora of inspectors. Hence the truth remains that catching and punishing the corrupt is the last priority of the Indian Government, notwithstanding the proclamation of the high and mighty of the Government, for a zero toleration for corruption. Thus all political parties are united on their stand against The Anti-Corruption Agencies. The weaker and ineffective, the better is their motto.

As 90% of a common man’s faith in justice through legal assistance is crushed by the errors of corruption and judicial delays the rest is furthered by the political power plays. If one analyses the problem of “Naxalism” in West-Bengal, which claims uncountable human lives, he would realize that the Naxals were peasants of Bengal, who were forcefully evicted from their land by the Rule of Law. Hence in other words the Naxals are none but hundred’s of common man turned terrorist by the reign of the CPI(m) government- such is the tyranny imposed by faulty law-makers. The same thought extends itself to the existence of Maoism or even the Telengana issue- each being created as results of Political mishaps exercised by the government at the expense of common people. The political parties in India have always used the weapon of mass consensus among the majority to strengthen their own political hold over a tract of land- at the cost of one man’s emotion and another man’s destruction- an eminent example of the same is Raj Thackeray, leader of MNS.

Coinciding with the aforementioned thoughts are data’s collected from a recent surveys conducted by RNB (5th-22nd Jan, 2010) has revealed quintessential facets as regards to a common man’s perspective and experience on the current Indian judicial system. 72% males and 42% females thought power politics in India affects the judicial system, 25% male and 12% female rated the current judicial system to be “outdated”, and surprisingly only 47% male and 41% female has faith in the judiciary.

The common man’s suggestions for improving the status quo of Indian Judiciary were increment in the number of judges and courts, provisions for speedy delivery of justice, strong laws and benches to look into matters of corruption and judiciary to be independent from coercive forces of the powerful- be it politicians or law keepers. However the most important suggestion that registered was to restrict lawyers from scheduling “DATES” accommodating their own convenience or sweet will, since the same deters the distribution of justice.

Ironically the summarization of the key findings of this recent survey of 2010 was done by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955 when he said “Justice in India should be simple, speedy and cheap” and defined litigation as a disease through which the prosecutors make money at the cost of faulty laws during the inauguration of a new building of the Punjab High Court. This makes one wonder if he was a visionary or 55 years and the Indian judiciary still formulates superficial laws to combat its grass-root problems.

A 21st century political clout B.P Singh reflects if a poor man reaches the court to witness the first trial of his complaint filed, in 2010 it deserves applause. According to Colin Gonsalves, a Supreme Court Lawyer, “There are thousands of poor people fighting the legal system. Ninety-one percent of them lose hope and get frustrated. It is only when the stars are properly aligned for a person, will he be able to get justice”.

From time immemorial the rich, the powerful and the politically connected had always got the corrupt police, purchasable prosecutors, and high priced attorneys to negate the sinned tag if not the guilt manipulating the creaky legal system, intimidating witnesses, destroying evidence, committing perjury and delaying the trial. Any ordinary mortal, pitted against these odds gives up even without a fight, considering himself lucky if he suffers no further damage. Struggling to make ends meet and without the intellect and resources to work the law, the common man is pulverized and believes it is his karma. Justice, he believes, will be delivered in the other world.

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On Recieving Versatile Blogger Award

Thankyou so much for this award! ❤

The Human Lens

versatile-blogger

A few days ago I received a really wonderful surprise, thanks to Sister Eva Fatmawaty, the imaginative Indonesian blogger who is always supportive of me and my blogging, we also share a mutually fantastic comradeship.

Considering my take on awards, I am not really sure that I deserve to be awarded the “Versatile Blogger Award” but I accept it with immense humbleness. Also this is a good occasion to sincerely thank sister Eva for this kind gesture and her vivacious presence in my blogging sphere. To be able to view first hand her wonderful contribution towards the blogging world, I suggest readers to take a look at her site https://ishlahii.wordpress.com/.

Now all award come with preset of and am sharing this particular award’s rules. Here it goes:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog 2. List the award rules so your…

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Well Done People!

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Wow.. this time its really surprising.. the results of Lok Sabha elections and then the results of Delhi Elections. But I am really glad to see the public participation in politics. This time, we the people of India have shown our power and have shown that the public cannot be fooled – We understand the politics and vote for better future.

This is really interesting. We gave full majority to BJP in Lok Sabha Elections and chose Mr. Narendra modi as Prime Minister of India. We knew that this person can really make a change and will represent our country in best way. He is the best choice.

But in Delhi Elections, we have also proved that the public is not a fool. We can’t give absolute power to any party. We have already seen what Congress has done being in power in both Central and Capital. So, we chose AAP ( Aam Admi Party) giving full majority in Delhi, so that there will be a balance and government will work for betterment of the people.

Really Hats of to common people who took a great decision.

PS- Modi is face of the country as being Prime Minister of India but he can’t be face of each and every state. BJP, stop using Modi as marketing policy and Gujarat as its product. Work Hard and make other states like Gujarat too.

Jai Hind.

democracy

Ideology and the rise of terror

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Militant ‘Islamic’ movements are organisations born out of particular configurations of geopolitics and superpower interventions. Beginning as resistance movements and later moving on by aiming to create new states, their strategies have been ideological and violent with scant regard for human rights.

The first two weeks of 2015 have not helped moderate Muslims anywhere in the world. Between the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria) [ISIS/ISIL and now IS], the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Boko Haram and the renegade gunmen claiming allegiance to the al-Qaeda in Yemen that shot the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, the world seems to have exploded in a frenzy of Islamic ideology-fuelled killing. Reactions to Islamic radicals conducting acts of terror have been varied. Between the Moroccan-born Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, rudely telling Muslims to get out of his country, the thousands of people in Germany marching in an anti-Islam demonstration, anchor Jeanine Pirro on Fox News saying “we need to kill them” and Rupert Murdoch tweeting about holding Muslims collectively responsible for terrorism, common Muslims everywhere are being forced to apologise and take responsibility for the dangerous actions of less than one per cent of the world’s total Muslim population.

Insurgents as global terrorists

People that believe such things seem to have missed some key pieces of information pertaining to the rise of some of these movements. In this piece, I will attempt to historicise the rise of some militant “Islamic” movements so that in our public debate we may have balance and some context. This is important because the rationalisations that are coming our way use Islam as the driving force behind all recent acts of terror. I believe that we need to shift this debate onto more logical terrain, i.e., we need to understand the conditions which beget certain types of insurgent and terrorist organisations. I assert here that Islamic ideology alone is not the driving force behind these organisations. Islamic ideology is merely the fabric in which an articulation of inequality, marginalisation, and alienation is embedded or stitched. Islamic ideology is deployed to get new recruits to particular terrorist groups. Think of such ideology as an advertising strategy or a marketing campaign to get people to adhere to the political causes being championed by these groups at the barrel of a gun.

“With the left discredited in societies with strong ethnic and religious sentiments, the fallback ideology of rebellion is mostly religion-based.”

Let’s start with the usual suspect, the Taliban. Raised by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan in 1979, the Taliban went on to capture power in Afghanistan after its western handlers left and the Cold War ended. What followed in Afghanistan was brutal fighting between several Taliban leaders; some of whom under Mullah Omar were able to consolidate a new Afghan state. Common Afghans suffered during this period of civil war and deal brokering. Osama bin Laden, initially a Taliban recruit, floated al-Qaeda, which, after 9/11, was forced into a partnership with the Taliban in a resistance against the American invasion of Afghanistan. The war with the U.S. destroyed whatever state the Taliban had created and fragmented both organisations — the Taliban and al-Qaeda — leading to different splinters of the same groups in West Asia and South Asia, each practising deadlier violence to distinguish itself from its competitors.

Similarly, IS was once known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) led by the Jordanian terrorist Al Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006 in a targeted attack by the U.S. Air Force. In 2003, AQI began fighting the American occupation of Iraq. Later it merged with other small resistance groups and turned into the Mujahideen Shura Council, before emerging as the ISIS under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Again, IS also emerged as a reaction to western intervention in West Asia and gradually broadened its scope to Syria during the protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

Boko Haram (western education is forbidden) arose in Nigeria in the mid-1990s as a moderate Islamic group in the aftermath of the Biafran War, which left two million people dead between 1967-1970 following the brutal suppression of the people of Biafra by the Nigerian government, supported by prominent western countries and oil companies. Boko Haram started as a movement that criticised the corrupt, oil-wealthy government of Nigeria and became a provider for the poor undertaking state-like welfare functions in northeast Nigeria. As Boko Haram receded into the jungles of northeast Nigeria, successive governments repeatedly ignored the growing radical and militant nature of the group.

The place of Islam

The Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and IS are organisations born out of particular configurations of geopolitics and superpower interventions and invasions. They started as resistance movements that were aimed at creating more ideal states and opposed foreign invasions, bad governance and despotic regimes. These groups are trying to create new states. This is why their strategies have been ideological and extremely violent with scant regard for human rights; for state formation is a messy, bloody affair. Just think of Europe between 900 and 1900 AD.

So what about Islam? I suggest here that Islam is the only commonly known ideology and script in these regions in which an articulation of resistance can be embedded, which common folk can understand, practise and stand by. Islam gives these movements legitimacy. It gives them a discourse and it attracts money. It is their USP. The movements are not initially motivated by Islam but by bad and corrupt governments, unequal power relations between countries, invasions by foreign powers and global income inequalities made persistent by the current global economic regime where the metaphorical one per cent has captured half of the world’s wealth. Let us not for one moment forget that most Muslims live in democratic countries like India, Malaysia and Indonesia and practise their religions peacefully and within the bounds of law. Let us also not forget that there are strong overlaps between Muslim countries with terrorist groups aspiring to statehood and where there has been a prolonged war with at least one great power. Similarly, the Algerians who killed 12 people in France last week lived on the margins of French society and were immigrants from a country which had been virtually socially, economically and politically destroyed by France, which many historians agree was always the worst country to get colonised by. One million Algerians died to overthrow French colonialism. This was followed by a postcolonial regime (the FLN state) that willingly killed over 1,00,000 of its own people in order to safeguard its oil interests backed by western powers.

Neo-mercantilism and terror

Let me be clear that historicising these groups does not mean that one condones their actions. None of these groups can find ethical support because indiscriminate violence used by IS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their hydra-headed babies has snatched away the human rights of thousands of people. However, we absolutely must understand the current rise of religious extremism as what it really is — the only readily available response in a shrinking political discourse that can challenge, or even attempts to challenge, the current world system. The left is popularly discredited and doesn’t find purchase in societies with strong ethnic and religious sentiments, so the fallback ideology of rebellion is mostly religion-based.

If we want to make sense of terrorism we need to launch a strong challenge to the current economic system that breeds and perpetuates global inequality and encourages a neo-mercantilism of sorts where western nations have encouraged and backed despots to preserve economic interests, and have undertaken military invasions to cement control over economic and natural resources.

But we must not, under any circumstance, demand that Muslims all over the world take collective responsibility for the actions of a fraction. In doing so terrorism unwittingly wins, because the whole point about terrorism is to fracture communities, destroy social capital and scare people into changing how they relate to each other. The need of the hour is to think carefully and hard about the factors and variables that have led to the formation of anti-state groups, treat each case as unique and not indulge in religion blaming. Terrorism and insurgency are businesses motivated by greed and grievance as Collier and Hoeffler told us many years ago. Islam, like any other ideology like Maoism (China and India), Marxism (USSR) or Catholicism (Northern Ireland) is the glue that holds the plot together.

Source- The Hindu

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