Friday, May 20, 2011

Any civilized country provides bail to the under trials. Kani should have been given bail

No one is going to complain today that Kanimozhi was sent to jail. There’s such a great sense of satisfaction that a politician has been shown her place. So high is the angst against politicians that even the judiciary has been influenced by its force. But how is it fair that an accused person.....whose trial has not even put in jail without anything being proved? Is this the way a civilized country should conduct itself.

I had written once on the same subject in the context of the numerous accused Muslims in the Godhra case being found not to be guilty. They had already been in jail for several years. If we pause and look back at what we did to them and their freedom, it would shame us. So many people jailed merely on the basis of some unproven charges framed against them? What kind of justice system is this? What kind of a country are we becoming?

In the US in contrast, Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK) has been given bail within 2 days of being charged.....even though he is such a high profile diplomat and politician. Courts in the US could have argued that this powerful person could “influence” witnesses and hence it was safer to keep him in jail. But they didn’t think that way. Because in the western world, there is a huge importance attached to freedom of citizens....even the ones who are accused of serious charges. There is a difference between the charged and the convicted.  Mere charges are not reason enough to jail someone. If there are worries of witnesses being influenced, the solution lies in protecting the witnesses; not in jailing the accused. The only exception that the US made to this rule is with respect to Guantanomo....the US base in Cuba.....where those charged with serious terrorism related crimes are jailed. Even though the US continued to justify the presence of this facility, it was severely castigated by its own people. In fact, Obama had made it an election issue when he stood for President. Upholding civilian rights.....even in the face of extreme public what makes the US a civilized country.

In this context, look at Kani’s jail sentence. Why is she being jailed? Only because of the “magnitude of the case”. Why not jail every single politician in this country because a similar “magnitude” case could be built against each of them. Because the CAG has accused the government of a staggering loss of Rs 1.76 lac crores in the allocation of 2G spectrum, why not jail the entire cabinet? After all, this is so staggering a sum and hence the magnitude is so high, that it would justify the action. Why not jail Chidambaram because the magnitude of the embarrassment caused in the “most wanted” list matter is so high that it deserves him to be jailed. How ridiculous is this approach?

The case against jailing the accused is even stronger in India given its slow justice system. The case against Kani could go on for years as her lawyer argued. It’s true. The Godhra under trials were released after several years of being in jail. There are cases that languish in our courts for decades. If the courts know this reality.....and they are the only ones responsible for creating this mess in the first place.....shouldn’t they take note and weigh in, in favor of bail? Alternatively, if bail is denied for whatever reason, shouldn’t a short time frame be set for the trial to be concluded? Shouldn’t there be a law that bail can be denied only for a few days or weeks at most?

The unfortunate thing is that even the judiciary has lost its sense of fair play and is swayed by public opinion. In fact, I am not even sure what public opinion we are talking about here. It’s just the misrepresented and biased stories that the media puts out in a totally unchecked manner with no sense of responsibility. Media makes judges believe that the entire country wants Kani jailed. The point is not about how this kind of journalism should be curtailed; the point is about why the judiciary takes note of public opinion in its judgments?

It’s the same with all the other accused people being put behind jail. The media may gloat over Kalmadi being in jail.....but that cannot take away the fact that this has given India the reputation of being a very intolerant, uncivil nation. The inability of the “system” to protect witnesses; to avoid tampering of evidence; is the real reason why the accused are being put in jail. This is a travesty of justice. And apparently, if the media in the country is to be believed, the public at large are supporting this travesty of justice. This is pathetic.

The real truth is that India is gaining the reputation of just being another banana republic. There are hardly any civil rights in this country. Anyone can be picked up and jailed, with the trail taking years to conclude. The punishment happens before the trial. Rather than fix problems in our law enforcement and judicial systems, the easy way of putting the charged person in jail is being taken. The media....instead of taking up cudgels for liberty and civil rights and reforming of the inefficient government instead applauding the jail terms being handed out by the courts. This is making India like the lawless Arab nations.....where even the concept of civil liberty doesn’t exist. It’s time we think about this....

1 comment:

  1. Very good post! We are linking to this particularly great content on our site.
    Keep up the good writing.
    Visit my blog post ... live casino online