January 26, 2016

Judicial Manipulation Rocks the Nation

Judicial Manipulation Rocks the Nation

 Our judicial system is based on manipulative finesse and exploitative abilities of the lawyers. Smartness of the advocate or solicitor may allow the criminals to walk freely. Fairness of judicial system resuscitates the entire national edifice through distinguished and valuable verdicts, while maintaining symmetrical impartiality. The system ensures provision of justice to every citizen, irrespective of color, creed, caste, political affiliation, socio-economic status, prestige and degree of influence.

It took 13 long years to give a verdict on Salman’s rash and negligence driving, whether he was drunk or not, a diificult conundrum for the experts and obfuscating the process. He was involved in an accident at a footpath in Mumbai bandra area, where one got killed and four injured. There were two others in the car: Personal Security Officer (PSO) Ravindra Patil of the Mumbai Police (since dead) and Mr. Khan’s friend Kamaal Khan, a singer. Salman fled from the place of the occurrence. The FIR , was filed by the PSO , Ravindra patil at Badra Police Station , mentioned that Salman was driving irresponsibly  and was over indulged with alcohol intake . The Case got registered under Sec 304 ( Culpable homicide not amounting to murder )  / 294 ( Rash and negligent driving ) , along with sec 304 –A (causing death by negligence) and Section 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of IPC and a few Motor Vehicle Act provisions. He was released on bail later on. After 10 days he was again arrested when the IPC section was altered to 304-Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder by an act with knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death). He was under judicial custody for 14 days and released on bail . A chargesheet was filed under sec 304 of the IPC , after investigation. The trial was knowingly delayed / prolonged for 7 years . The Court delivered the judgement of 5 years of rigorous imprisonment , he appealed before  the Mumbai High Court and he was acquitted of all the charges . ( Very funny , I am surprised as a lawyer , the incident happened in 2002  and the sessions trial began in December 2013 )

The FIR is an unchallenged and scared document and there was no unusual delay in reporting. There is a provision that if the person filing he can explain reasons for the delay to the court’s satisfaction, the report retains its value. There was no delay in this case. The FIR , only describes the basic facts of the incident rather describing everything in details , further it can be investigated thoroughly. It was a misfortune that Patil died before he could be examined before the Sessions Court. Patil was harassed by his own department and some outside elements to make Salman out of the mess. The sudden appearance of one Ashok Singh is quite surprising and a twist in the case, when he told he was driving the Car. According to me, it is an artificial statement and fabricated one. Further according to the defence, the accident happened because the tyre was burst. The motor vehicle inspector investigated the vehicle and noticed that there was puncture in the left wheel of the SUV, which might not lead to such mishappenning. The whole investigation was tawdry, poor-quality, inferior, and low graded. Salman’s verdict or acquittal was unjustified and irrational. He was acquitted under benefit of doubt not a complete and clean acquittal. This shows that there are flaws in our laws and our corrupt lawyers and leaders misuse them according to their whims and fancies and abuse the process of law. There is utter and urgent need to amend the defective Laws and Constitution.

In a democratic country like India, judiciary plays a vital role in establishing a state of justice. Therefore being the watchdog, they are not allowed to shift their burden to others for their failure to establish an actual State of Justice. It is judiciary on which millions of people have struck their faith of getting justice. It has the capability of imparting justice to the aggrieved. It is that part of our constitution which acts as its Messiah. It is that structure of our society, which cemented its place next to the God and if not properly dispensed will shatter down the entire trinity of democratic instrumentalists with checks balances, parliamentary structure and the judicial facets of our constitution. Generally, aggrieved with lots of pain anguish and hope in their heart approaches the court of law for their grievances to be clarified but at the end of the day the procedural lacuna left them with bare hands. They are denied of their most important right of Justice.

Take for example The massacre of Niroda Pataya is beyond descriptions, horrible, horrific, horrendous and it shivers down the spine. In the case, 97 people, mostly from minority community (Muslims), were killed in 2002.  The train Carnage at Godhra triggered, a massive riot in Gujrat , but Niroda Patiya is beyond imagination and highest death toll . In this case, all the Hindutva outfits were involved ( RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP & some BJP leaders ) . They were outraging the modesty of the muslim women, torching women , children by burning them alive. The National Human Right Commission filed a Writ Petition against the Government of Gujrat & Others before the Supreme Court of India, which was
decided on 1/5/2009 . The prime accused were Babu Bajrangi , Raju Chobal, Harish Rohera , Kishan Korani , P.J.Rajput active member of VHP and BJP leading a mob of 15,000 to 17,000 , shouting , “ Attack and Kill “ . A special court 32 persons including a former BJP state minister under the then Narendra Modi government, Mayaben Kodnani along with Babu Bajrangi  , a former Bajrang Dal Convenor. 29 persons were acquitted under the benefit of doubt. Those who are convicted were found to be involved in guilty of murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy, spreading enmity and communal hatred and unlawful assembly under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Bombay Police Act. Some of them, including Suresh Chara, were also found guilty of rape and molestation. The conviction Kodnani, was a  Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare raised a demand for Mod’s resignation on moral grounds . But again it was twisted by Jayanarayan Vyas a spokeperson that Kodnani , a practising gynaecologist , was not a minister that time and her individual action could not interpreted or construed  as  the growing responsibility of the cabinet . The Niroda Patiya post – Godhra episode is one of most cruel some and darkest moments in the history of Independent India, claiming the highest number of bloodshed.

The reputation of India’s judiciary, considered overbearing and democratically unaccountable by many, has taken a knock with the publication of a report by Transparency International (TI) called the “Global Corruption Report”. A survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies, finds that a very high 77 percent of respondents believe the Indian judiciary is corrupt. Money was paid to the officials in the following proportions: 61 percent to lawyers; 29 percent to court officials; 5 percent to middlemen. In a 12-month period it found was around 580 million dollars of bribes. “This is a wake-up call not just for India’s legal system, but for society and the state itself”, says Upendra Baxi, a highly regarded Indian jurist, former vice-chancellor of Delhi University, and professor at the University of Warwick in Britain. “It confirms what we have known for years and casts a shadow on the integrity of the judiciary. It also calls for urgent, drastic remedial measures.” “The report only covers the lower or subordinate judiciary and excludes the judges of the High Courts (of Indian states) and the (national) Supreme Court. There are credible reports that corruption has permeated the higher judiciary too,” said Baxi.

Judicial Corruption on rampant. “In India, impeachment is not feasible because it requires a huge (two-thirds) majority in Parliament,” argues Colin Gonsalves, a public interest lawyer with the Human Rights Law Network. “India’s parliamentary elections have produced hung verdicts for years. And it is virtually impossible to muster the numbers necessary for impeaching a judge. In 1993, V. Ramaswamy, a Supreme Court judge, was found culpable by a court committee. But he was politically well-connected and could not be impeached.” “The judicial system, including judges and lawyers, has developed a vested interest in delays as well as corruption; it promotes a collusive relationship between the different players” and this works against the public interest and the citizen’s rights. But even more important is the assault on rights that has occurred under the globalizing neoliberal turn made by India’s higher judiciary .

As a lawyer I can say , “ Verdict has no meaning it is only for the rich and powerful . “  A question arises, “ Does our justice system give equal treatment to rich and poor, equality of Justice ? Our legal system is based upon dispute resolution between parties and not to determine right or wrong. An individual is either guilty or not guilty. The use of the term "innocent" is vastly incorrect and the general media should cease the practice when reporting.  Within our system, the more money you have, the greater your chances of having access to expert legal advice. Access to savvy legal advice increases your chances of receiving an outcome that is more favourable to you. Lack of money results in the poor rarely have the same level of access to legal services, or favourable outcomes, as the privileged.

My Experience --- 4 years back I was fighting a case on behalf of the students pursuing MBA distant learning ICFAI, sambalpur . The ICFAI, duped the money of the students and wanted to shift the institute to some other place . On ICFAI side other associate of Lawyers and they  thrive under a political umbrella , there Chief is a National Secretary of a prominent national party, started creating delays... giving time petitions. I was calmly witnessing everything. They gave number of pleas that they were busy in some other courts and couldn't come, so time may be allowed . I immediately inquired whether the concerned lawyer was in the mentioned court or not. However, after facing much of obstacles I won the cases & the students recovered there hard earned money. They assaulted me because I was creating obstacles in their path. They manipulate judiciary by putting pressure on the lower court through Justices at the upper court. They do under table business. Whenever before approaching for a case, I pray to God , whether I am fighting for a cause or just for earning money. Since 7 years I am working on my conscience. I have faith on my God's timing. The emphasis is more on winning the case rather than ensuring that justice has been done. It is more important to see how smartly the case has been presented and how strong were the support arguments to influence the concerned honourable judge.

Our "justice" system is all about lawyers making money, people remaining in elected positions of power, and winning an argument. We are far more concerned about the rights of perpetrators rather than victims and over the years interpreting law has become an exercise in creative writing, such as defining what the word "is" is.  Mr. Nikhil Wagle, an eminent Journalist rightly tweeted, “When u defend corrupt corporates/netas you have no moral right to speak about corruption free India.Big lawyers must understand this.”

In India, Justice is beyond the reach of most and the right of access to it is not communicated to the citizens properly. In many a circumstances it was found that the litigant who has had access to the court failed to obtain quick relief and for some never have the opportunity even to knock the doors of the court due to ignorance and poverty. If we want justice to be accessible to all, then it must be relieved from the Laissez faire pattern, where justice like other commodity can be purchased and initiative must be taken to educate the populace.

Quest for justice has nothing to do with procedure or jurisdictional aspect rather it cares for its speedy disposal. Delay in disposal of cases is considered as one of the most vexed and worrying problem. It is the code of procedures, which makes it so worse. However personality likes Nani Phalkiwala opined that” Justice in common parlance is considered as blind but in India it is lame too and hobbles on crutches. It is on the verge of collapse with more than 30 million cases clogging the system. There are cases that take so much of time that even a generation is too short to get any type of redressal.”

India is free from the so called British Rule. From Cricket to
Judiciary India excels even Great Britain today. Naturally we are more British today than ever before. India badly needs today Indian Home Rule than ever before. The stumbling block for this Home Rule will be right from Indian Judiciary to Indian Lawyers down to political and apolitical elites sitting in National Capital Territory Delhi and State Capitals and exploiting the millions denizens. A Judge needs vacation. A Lawyer needs vacation. Both needs court rooms and files. Judges need salary enhancements and privileges and pensions. Lawyers need their fees whether the case is admitted or not and the judgment is in the litigants favor or not. They can dare for a Court Bandh or National Bandh. Where courts are busy in attending the appeals of their lower ones, and other such issues far away from the scope of the courts, humanity somewhere is left buried below the bunch of files which no one dares to uncover or we can say do anyone wants to extract these files out unless some political issue is attached to it.

Thus courts and judicial system transpire lifeline of every nation by providing breathing space and steadfast foundation for the victims and the feeble. The social order gets reinforced by excellence of judicial system and so is the case of moral values.
Good laws have their origins in bad morals. – Albert Einstein

Siddhartha Shankar Mishra,
The author is a Lawyer and work on Human Rights & socio-legal awareness,
Sambalpur , Odisha

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