Legal Musings: Putting The Cart Before Horse

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By L Ravichander

Do we expect too much? Are we just a functional anarchy or are we steeped in an avaricious anarchy? Sometime ago populist mandates got us new governments. Both at the Centre and in the States, we helped wipe put a party whose history since its inception ran parallel with that of the nation. Now at sixty and more, having lodged “better alternatives”, having flexed muscles at the hustings, we are on the move. Wait. Are we on the move? Today it is glamorous to push the politician who lost and the businessman who failed into the muck. Oh! Yeah we have the law, we have the law enforcing agency as also the legal administration and do they all fall in line with the contemporary trends!! Historians may in the near future term it as Fashion.

As we embark on this new collective vigilante and a trigger-happy social order, it may shock millions and more when I say that the courts of the land have not been just with the likes of Mallya, Subroto, et al. The ones who know me may even fault the stance to a professional argument. It is none the less a fact of the polity that today you have to name one guilty and sentence him, well before the “Due Process of Law” takes its course.

Two favourite whipping boys are out there taking the flak. We have the politician – corrupt and the businessman – avaricious. The same two will be considered with completely favourable lenses if they succeed.

Before my stance is misconstrued as a high degree of tolerance to crime, it is all about punishment. A system that goes through the motion of prosecution, aided, abetted and preceded by media trial throws up serious questions of credibility.

It is a secret known to all that investigating agencies in the country are products of command performances. They suffer a serious credibility crisis. The question is not so much about the corrupt going scot-free. I’m concerned about the vilification of political opponents. I often have a feeling that judicial officers lack the wherewithal to forensically deal with prosecution. Conviction sometimes overlooks the shortage of evidence and the judgement revolves around the reasoning for conviction. A clear case of putting the cart before the horse. The anxiety to punish politicians on the ground that they made decisions in the course of their office and gained financially from such decisions is crucial to a clean polity. However if the connect is remote and the risk high,then every faulty decision could be perceived as a corrupt decision. As citizens, we need to ask the fundamental question as to how we behave in our lives. Are we willing to take the whip for every wrong decision we make? And surely we make many. While the guilty must be punished, a boy scout attitude and a trigger happy judicial process will do themselves no good. Being guided by law and guarded by evidence is an insurance. It seems to be increasingly subject to market risks.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Sakshipost.)

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