16 December, 2008

Scales of Justice and the Sword Hand

The law by just its meaning is a tenet/s, rule/s or the guiding principle/s on which an ecosystem or society functions. Look at nature, it too has an order and functions in just such a way, we see it in the natural order of things around us. The earth revolves around the sun, the moon around the earth. water flows from higher level to lower level; dog chases cat, cat chases mouse. Trees take in noxious gases and convert it into life giving oxygen. Nature is balanced because of the very laws on which it operates.

Man is different. Across time he moved from the caves and jungles and evolved towards progress, the wiser amongst him had the foresight to frame rules of behaviour for him and his future generations. This was required because he is a selfish animal motivated by greed. In nature, man is the only animal that covets and tries to acquire more than he needs. Unfortunately the rules that he frames are conveniently interpreted by him to suit his own purpose. This varied interpretation causes the balance to be upset.

How does he deal with a situation where other men have broken these rules? He creates another system/platform to address this and calls it a court of law or the legal system. It is the very cornerstone of civilization, this system of law and redressal. If we examine natures legal system versus the man made one. Nature punishes everybody who abuses its order of things. The punishment befits the crime. It is not always so in the man-made legal system and herein lies the catch. Justice is often delayed and the meted out punishment doesn’t always suit the crime. The law has to be fair but powerful and something that a wrong doer should be afraid of. The fear of law should deter or contain crime. Our legal system is weak and vacillating. Delay of justice is justice denied. This too is a crime, being perpetuated indirectly against the victims, by the very courts of law. Nature on the other hand has neither pity, nor mercy or delay in its dispensing of justice, the consequences are swift and terrible. Laws of nature because of this power are feared & respected.

On the background of recent happenings of 26/11 the question before us is what now? In the official casualty tally, 178 are dead and 360 are injured. Is there justice for them in the Indian courts ?

Is the Indian system functioning and functioning well? Let us look at three separate cases; two instances that are not related to terror and one which is.

  • The Bhopal gas tragedy is the most horrific industrial accident anywhere in the world. The leakage of MIC or methyl isocyanate gas resulted in 3000 people immediately dying and lakhs suffering the after effects. This happened in 1984. This case was settled out of court for a paltry sum and is still pending as its impact on life and environment are yet under discussion more than 24 years after.
  • Second is the Bombay textile mill workers strike headed by the late Dr. Datta Samant. This changed the industrial face of Mumbai irreversibly and completely. Lakhs of millworkers were out of job and most have died by now. The cases are pending yet. This is from 1982.
  • The third is the red handed arrest of Mohammad Afzal aka Afzal Guru for the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001. He is sentenced to death in 2006 a good five years later and till date that sentence is not carried out. There is a legal stay on this order.

The goddess of law has the scales of justice in one hand and holds a sword in another. In the attention to the drama taken to balance the oscillating scales, over time even the goddess has forgotten her sword hand. Its time now to remind her.


Nalin Jain said...

Justice cannot be demamded by spineless cowards and I feel that this is what we all have collectiely become. We do not deserve a better society to live in.

On the day of the peace rally to the Taj, most people were shoutig slogans of anti Pakistan and war against Pakistan. Will this war against Pakistan give justice to any of the reliatives of the deceased. Our definition of justice has also got skewed. I respect freedom of speach and expression, but every freedom comes with some responsibility. Do we have any sense of responsibility towards the world we live in?

What has the war against Afganisthan and Iraq resulted in??? 2 million (20 lakh) lives lost on about 7 years. Out of these how many were terrorsits... 200, 2000 or at the max 20000. So should we let 100 innocent civilians and army officers die to kill one terrorist. Am I wiiling to participate in the war or willing to send any of my family member to die on the front killing innocent soilders on the other side who also have family. And do we think that the number of terrorists have gone down due to this war. The war has in fact fuelled the hatered and I am sure that many more youths who along with thier families have suffered the devastation of war have become terrorists.

We keep saying they are responsible for this act of terrorism. They need to take action, they need to be punished, they need to change.... We need justice...

I am at loss of words to understand who are these they and who do we need justice from. Pakistan, politicians, government, police or ourselves.

How many times have we followed the law of the land. As rightly written by Kau, the natures laws are strict and harsh but not ours. If a man jumps from a 20 story building, he will die irrespective of wheter he is rich or poor. But in our laws, we differentite and tolerate this differentiation. So special people are allowed to bypas security at airports. Even we want rules to be adjusted to our convinience. So if liquids are not allowed on the plane, but I should be allowed to carry my water bottle, I am special. If cell phone should not be used on the aircrat, I still should allowed to be, my call is special and very important. My cell phone does not interfere with the aircrafts navigation system. And how many times I have put my foot down and asked my neighbout not to take his call despite the message blinking. How do we expect 3-4 cabin staff to controll the entire 120 customers. We do not follow any laws and want other to follow the laws. We have completely left our lives to others hands and now expect them to imporve our lives.. why will they. They are busy improving their lives...

So if we want justice, we must stand up for the law ourselves, know our responsibility and fulfill it, and then we will have the spine and the courage to fight the injustice....

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

You are so right, that it begins with self. Self governance though comes out of awareness, concern and respect for the fellow human being. Easily said, but not practised, else why would we need Policing and the Law.

When there exists a benchmark system which is the law and courts who are fair, just and swift. Then the law is respected and inherently followed and out of which automatically emerges Self Governance.