We have been seeing how the Indian Court System works, we have also been seeing on the delivery of orders which take more than a decade to punish the wrong doers. How does it affect the Justice Delivery System? Is delivering justice after such long time periods really justice? Is Justice, if at all delayed is denied?
Answering all these questions, today I write this blog analyzing whether the old fashioned quote as we quote it time and again “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” stands ground when it actually comes to it.
I often used to think and be happy when my parents used to say finally justice has been delivered, the wrong doers are punished and that used to make me smile. With me being older and understanding things better, I now started to question the same. The question which started popping up every now and then is – How long is too long?
Should I say I am proud to witness the Nirbhaya rapists hanged, or the Ram Mandir conflict settled or perhaps proud to be a part of the population who saw the Apex Court restrict the sale of acid. This is exactly where it hurts. The point of concern is how do we define justice? What is justice to us? How do we look forward to justice?
Is justice for us a paper inked by a presiding Judge who has given a judgement which shall punish the wrong doers for the crime or maybe deliver a judgement which we were waiting for years? And once that is done we go out and tell the world that justice has finally been delivered. Well against popular belief, justice to me does not mean this. The very definition of justice is abused if you have to ask me. If the definition of justice is so narrowly construed so as to cover it in ink with a paper after prolonged situation where the victims die and the accused having spent years in prison just to face the wrath of the delay in justice delivery system does not mean justice to me.
We all have heard of the maxim “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”, not many however; have heard of the maxim “Justice Hurried is Justice Buried”.
There needs to be quick and prompt trial with respect to criminal offences which is what the doctor has ordered to repose faith of the litigants in the Indian Judiciary. The Constitution of India guarantees its citizen with the “Right to speedy trial” by virtue of Article 21, whereas the first written form with regards to speedy trial can be found in the 1215 Magna Carta (clause 40).
It would not be wrong to say that our justice delivery system suffers from what I would call a “slow motion syndrome” even in grave cases which is nowhere in consistency with the “Fair Trial” mechanism.
15th day of August, 1947 the day world’s second most populated country at this point of time got its independence from the British Raj. There was a lot of hue and cry, never did we know that this independence was just another struggle so as to form an independent nation that has to establish democracy based on the principles of – justice, liberty, equality, sovereignty, fraternity, secularism and so much more.
We have gone past the days where barbarism was prominent, thereafter we have seen civilizations progress and gone through a variety of changes, today as I write, I find the very progressed society which once fought with barbarism becoming a victim to the dilatoriness in the process of getting justice.
Acid attacks, rapes, murder, extortion, scams, cheating, homicides and what not. All of this feels like a comic book story to be read with my morning cup of coffee when I hold up the newspaper. Trust me when I say this, it has become a habit now. The wheels of justice are way too slow for the criminals right now; slow however, will be an ‘overstatement’ looking at the present scenario.
This is what I was taught when I was a kid – in my mother’s words if I have to quote “Do not feel deprived for that what you don’t have by looking at people above you. Feel privileged for that what you have by looking at people beneath you”.
Today when I look at the courtroom situation there is a plethora of emotions which come to me with the hard hitting reality of the Indian Population wherein a major portion are still uneducated and illiterate who have to spend money to move this wheel of justice, year after year and then there are decades, still the wait for justice does not end.
In the process of attaining justice, these people become destitute by the very lawmakers and protectors who have framed laws to protect their citizens from being a victim of destitution.
And then we question them who take laws in their own hand.
Failing to understand the fact that it is they who force them to do so.
When I now assess the situation I remember those dialogues from the Hollywood movies – “Justice is that friend which will come to you only once you have fought enough”. Rightly so, never has justice been delivered without fighting for it. Even the evil practice of ‘Sati’ was not abolished without the fights of ‘Raja Ram Mohan Roy’. ‘Child marriages’ is still in practice and I did not forget mention the ‘Harijans’.
How many cases exactly are we talking about here!! Be it the case of ‘Safar Hashmi’ ‘Tanduri’s’ , ‘Hashimpura massacre case’ , ‘Delhi’s uphaar cinema fire mishap’ and many more. I am not even citing the recent examples of ‘Nirbhaya’ and many more.
The worst possible failure of the Indian Judicial System in my eyes is the case of ‘Machal Lalung’. Machal Lalung, aged 23 years, resident of Morigoan, Assam belonging to the ‘Tiwa’ tribe was arrested on false charges in the year 1951. The charges were of ‘grievous hurt’. As luck would have it, the Hon’ble Court sentenced him to prison for a period of ten years. However, due to certain health conditions he had to be transferred to ‘Tezpur’ for psychiatric treatment, he was forgotten here. In the year 1967 the doctors certified him as fit and this man now was transferred to Guwahati prison wherein he spent round about 40 years. His case never caught the eye till the time a local Human Rights group brought it to the attention to of the ‘National Human Rights Commission’. He was released in the year 2005 for a crime he never committed and his age at the time of release was 77 years or more. The Supreme Court had issued a directory order to the State of Assam to provide him with compensation and monthly assistance.
What hurts more is ‘Machal Lalung’ died in the year 2007. All I question here is this much – Is the Indian Judiciary not accountable? The very safe keepers of personal liberty held an innocent in illegal detention, released him when he was 77 years or maybe more, jailed him for four decades and we still use the victim cards of lack of judges to improve our judgement delivery system. Is there no empathy?
We hold up the high values that there is such scopes of appeal only so that 100 guilty can go unpunished but an innocent should not. What is the point of having such a structure wherein the very basis of this whole structure stands defeated?
Delivery of justice is not like the 1983 or 2011 World Cup wins. Just because we were proud then about ‘India lifting the World Cup’ should not be the way forward when the delay is humongous in nature. Accepting the fact that litigation is a circle that takes time, we cannot deny the fact that the wheels of justice cannot stop and should keep rotating at a steady pace. With the above examples given it is clear that we have taken justice given by the judiciary like a mirage in the forest, which once found gives keeps us content.
We crib about lack of judges, lack of the executive machinery and play blame games for delayed justice. But does passing the ball help? We prove that we are not well equipped, but we still fail to be accountable for the cases of ‘Machal Lalung’ and many more.
India should follow the process which is being followed by Serbia, Croatia and others. Though the mechanism cannot be rigidly followed due to the density of population that India has, keeping it as a guideline can surely help in faster adjudication. These countries have a time period guideline kept for adjudication. Any case beyond that timeline shall be in violation of the Adjudication Principles and Articles thereto. The maximum upper cap is 5 years.
I strongly oppose and disagree with those who are optimistic advocates in favor of the judgments for the recent ‘Delayed Justice’ cases. To put it more appropriately in my very in words if I have to say – “Justice is like a perishable good, you store it too long, it stops giving value. You store it long enough, it loses its meaning”.
Delay in justice is not just mere mockery of the Law, it in fact tears apart in pieces the entire fabric which when interwoven binds our faith in the Justice Delivery Mechanism of the Judicial Machinery of the State.
If delay in justice continues at the current pace, there will be a time, sooner or later which will witness ‘social anarchism’, ‘nihilism and cynicism’. The society at large will be jeopardized while everyone will watch the judicial machinery collapse under its very own created weight over the decades of delay.
“They said the society will learn once he gets hanged, the crimes escalated because the justice was delayed. They hanged yet another and everything in vain because now that they have understood it is ‘death before justice’ which is the new hash tag trending”.
“I agree that the paper inked today will become a precedent tomorrow. What I disagree is to the fact that even tomorrow another victim needs to fight for a period long enough to become another precedent for another fight of another victim”.