Is judiciary soft on VIPs?

Is judiciary soft on VIPs?

When all are equal before law, why is there 'A' classification in jail for offenders who are VIPs outside?

“Does the law of the land work differently for VIPs and celebrities?” a question often raised after the film star Salman Khan hit-and-run case verdict.

The bail secured within hours of sentencing the guilty, though the verdict itself took 13 long years to come by, is still green. Decisions in the case of VIPs like Jayalalitha, Lalu Prasad, A Raja, Kanimozhi etc, verifies that the justice systems work differently for the wealthy and the influential.

The legal eagles exploit every loophole in the criminal justice system to prolong the case, evidence lying in the perception of the judge. Just because you did it does not mean you are a convict. When convicted, bail is ready like an ambulance.
The convict is then free for years while the case winds its way slowly through different courts as part of the appeal process.

Remember, in the Jayalalitha case, John Michael Cunha, Special Judge who delivered the landmark decision, had observed: “The accused moved applications after applications before this court at every stage of the proceedings raising different interlocutory issues purportedly to vindicate different facets of their right to a free and fair trial and virtually every order passed by this court was carried in Appeal or Revision to the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka and then to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India resulting in considerable delay in the progress of the case”. Thus, it took 18 years for a decision, only to be granted bail within 21 days.

The convicts know how to carry over their material advantages in the vast, outside world into the confines of the prison, abusing the legal provisions governing incarceration to evade the full right of the law.

While it is a common practice to feign chest pain and seek refuge in high-end hospitals, the other trick in the book is parole; the reason for the excursion can be anything, a parent’s illness, the death of a relative… When the prison cell door clanks shut behind them, the VIP inmates manage to force open a window to freedom.

When all are equal before law, why then there is ‘A’ class classification in jail for offenders who are called VIPs outside.  If their crime is bribe-related, they bribe their way and get opulent treatment in the prison itself. The law-making body itself having nearly a third of 542 members are tainted with serious charges against them.

Where power comes sans prudence, hoodlums will call the shots. The real problem is the way our administration is weaved. In contrast, American criminal Charles Manson who committed a murder in 1969, is in jail ever since, and has been refused parole 11 times.

Bernard Madoff, an American fraudster, operated a Ponzi scheme that is considered to be the largest financial fraud in the US history. He got a just punishment: 150 years of jail term and a forfeiture of $17.7 billion. Neither of these infamous people will ever get out of prison during their life time.

Law loses, loopholes win

Is it easier for people with money to navigate the criminal system than for people without?  Is ‘affluenza’ a real problem?  Should a judge take it into account when making decisions about sentencing?

Affluenza is not a real disorder, it’s merely parents not cautioning their kids consequences thus compelling them not to make good choices. The more money you have shouldn’t make the crime you committed any better. The argument that this “guy” should not be punished for his actions because he is product of his affluent environment is preposterous.

While many undertrials are languishing in jails, such procedural bias impairs civil liberties. About three crore cases are pending in courts all over India, with approximately 42 lakhs in High Courts and more than 65,000 in Supreme Court. This number is worrying, because this is simply enough to shatter a common man’s hope for a speedy justice.

Justice shall be just only when it is delivered with equity. While a celebrity like Sanjay Dutt spends half of his time on parole, a poor man from Assam was found spending 54 years in prison without even trial for an offence punishable with not more than three years. There cannot be “classes” of offenders. Justice does not seem to have been administered.

The term VIP itself is a slur on democratic values as it recognises someone more equal than others. When persons claiming VIP status break queues, get out-of-turn allotments and other privileges at the cost of common man with impunity, the tolerance level of our people is really astonishing.

Also, witnesses must be protected and whistleblowers motivated. With the high profile cases on the rise, India is at the risk of being labelled as “judicial asylum”.
When the rich and the powerful get on the wrong side of the law, it is the law that suffers the most. The VIP offenders and convicts are often treated by law enforcers as VIPs and not offenders or convicts.  After all, “some are more equal!”.