Justice for whom?


Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
— Shakespeare (King Lear, Act IV, Scene VI)

(The vices of big people like judges are hidden behind the robes and furred gowns which they wear. If a sinner is an affluent man, his sins will be invisible, and the sharp spear of justice, when aimed at him breaks instead of hurting him. But if the same sinner puts on tattered clothes, even the weakest weapon will pierce him.)
Tulsi Das echoed a similar feeling: “samrath ko nahin dosh Gosain” (Blame is never apportioned to the mighty.) Stirner expressed it succinctly when he said that “a handful of might is better than a bagful of right”. Thrasymachus, a gruff Sophist, thought alike: “I proclaim that might is right, and justice is the interest of the stronger...” In the Mahabharata when Karna surpasses Arjuna in proficiency in the use of arms Arjuna objurgates him that he (Karna) will go to hell as he intruded uninvited. On this Karna retorts that the arena is open to all and ridicules Arjuna, “Might is the sanction of sovereignty on which the law is based. But what is the use of mere talk which is the weapon of the weak”. This fight between might and right is as old as the history of life on the earth, and will perhaps go on till eternity. It is a common belief that the strong assert their might while the weak assert their right. It is best explained in the fable of Antisthenes. In the council of beasts when hares started haranguing and claiming parity lions rebuked them, “Where are your claws?”
Ruchika’s case has once again vindicated Shakespeare, Tulsi Das and other philosophers and highlighted how the State behaves like a monster in a hierarchical society where the weak have no right to demand justice if wronged. It has only brought to the fore the systemic failure in which the entire system gangs up against an innocent girl and her family just because she displays the muscle to fight the might.

Ruchika is neither the first victim of this unjust system nor will be the last. There are countless silent sufferers who are doomed to suffer and die unheard and unwept. Though the state government has assured that the case would be reopened, technically it may be difficult as retrial is done in cases of acquittal, not after conviction though the quantum of punishment can always be challenged.
However, there are several lapses for which the culprits must be prosecuted. Now, every one is trying to wash his hands of the sin and claiming to have written against Rathore. The DGP says that he found Rathore guilty but he was overruled and also harassed. The investigating officer of the CBI alleges that he was sought to be bribed and ultimately removed at Rathore’s instance. Why did they not open their mouth then?

Many are involved
To set an example, the government must inquire into these allegations and move against all those who conspired against the little girl — from the school principal who expelled her on the flimsy excuse of non-payment of fees to the cops who registered false criminal cases against her hapless brother, assaulted him physically and got him behind bars and the investigating officer of the CBI who dropped the charge of abetment to suicide — and file cases against them for conspiracy and complicity under sections 34 and 120-A of the IPC. The school should also be taken to task and its affiliation be cancelled.

The role of policemen puts a question mark on the theory of the autonomy of police for which the Supreme Court gave direction in the Prakash Singh case. Policemen do not cave in under the political pressure only but also carry out the illegal verbal orders of their bosses as is evident from Ruchika’s case whose whole family was devastated by the brutalised uniformed force. Autonomy without accountability will lead to tyranny.

It also raises questions about the role of the court and the sentencing policy. It is surprising why the trial court which found these cases false and frivolous did not initiate criminal proceedings against the guilty policemen under sections 192, 193 and 196 of the IPC for filing false cases as the court alone is empowered to do so.
It can be done even now as punishment for it is imprisonment up to seven years and offences punishable with imprisonment up to seven years are not time-barred. Secondly, the court was extremely lenient in sentencing S P S Rathore to only six months of jail though the law provides for the maximum imprisonment of up to two years in case of molestation. Sentence is the discretion of the judge but it has to be exercised judiciously.

Earlier, K P S Gill was found guilty of molesting Deol Bajaj, an IAS officer, and was awarded three months of jail, but the Supreme Court converted it into probation, and he was not sent to jail even for a day. Reformation is an essential part of criminal jurisprudence, but why this large-heartedness only in case of a high-profile police officer. Moreover, police officers or bureaucrats are seldom punished for indiscretion though such instances are galore.
In 1999, the then SP of Jamshedpur misbehaved with women in a party. The zonal IG reported against him in writing to the police headquarter, but no FIR was registered. He was transferred, but then the most powerful political leader of Bihar (Jamshedpur was part of Bihar then) asked the DGP to post him back to Jamshedpur which the DG refused to do.
Policemen should ask themselves why they are targets of Naxalites. If innocent people are harassed like this, Naxalism will grow. Injustice provides mother’s milk to terrorism.

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