Column | Our Justice Delivery System Is Tilted Towards Perpetrators Than Victims
The whole country is in a state of confusion, anxiety and perplex after the remarks given by the Justices of the Supreme Court of India while responding to the petition filed by Nupur Sharma in which she requested to bring disposal of all FIRs at one place.
As per law, it is a very valid and reasonable request. But, somehow, it has got a very different response from the Justices of the highest court. It raises a number of questions in the minds of the other citizens of India.
First -Is the opinion of Justices in sync with the opinion of the whole country? The question is important because Judiciary in India is the custodian and guardian of civil rights and keeper of the spirit of the Constitution of India. It has a unique status in the world, it represents the people who have the largest cultural diversity, which exists nowhere else in the world. Therefore, the judiciary has to maintain equilibrium and exercise sensitivity to protect the aggrieved while delivering justice without prejudices. India is a country governed by the rule of law, not by the rule of opinion.
The second question -Is it not the duty of the Court to ensure that the practice and trust in the rule of law of all are not compromised? Is not the law supposed to be fair and just? Is not the law to protect victims? Is this not the duty of the Court to protect the life of a citizen? Is not objectivity law's biggest quality? Whenever and whosoever has compromised on the objectivity of the law has created a sense of betrayal and loss of public trust.
To explain the current happening in the highest court of the country with regard to Nupur Sharma the very essence of modern justice delivery system can be explained with the example of Themis.
Older and new depiction of Themis- Greek goddess and the symbol of the "lady justice", which is displayed almost in all delivery of justice systems. She explains today's judicial scenario very aptly. Out of many versions, two versions explain the situation unequivocally. The "lady Justice" is shown in her older version -unblindfolded and seated statue-holding balance scales in one hand and a cup of libation or cornucopia in other, it represents the cooperative way of resolving the dispute, it is replaced by the newer version of the statue which is- standing -blindfolded has a sword in her one hand and balance scales in other.
It perfectly represents today's situation that how from impartiality and fairness the justice delivery system has moved to a system creating distrust in the common people's minds. Blindfold ness represents that the judge cannot be influenced by the person being judged so that it does not fall prey to prejudice and corruption. How true! Also "lady justice" is stepping on a serpent which symbolises evil, justice triumphs over injustice, corruption, bias and intimidation.
Every citizen has a right to fair hearing and representation in a court of law. Where the symbol of justice is a woman and which sends a message to the society Every citizen has the right to dignity and especially a woman has all the more reason to be treated with respect. At least by the highest judiciary. The Indian culture always holds women in high esteem, it does not judge women with western standards, as they are not treated like an object in India but as person as the constitution says. The sufferer looks towards the Hon'ble Justices with high hopes and expectations that they are in safe hands.
It seems that in the time of social media even the judiciary has not remained untouched by its influence of it. Since the freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right given by the Constitution of India to all its citizens and to be protected by the Highest Court in a fair and impartial manner, no person, even if she/he is a political figure can be treated in a biased manner. What is expected from the judiciary is not to fall prey to social media and protect citizens also from its negative impact.
It is expected from the judiciary that they should rein the unbridled media-social and electronic as well as print media acting irresponsibly. It is time to impose reasonable restrictions on media which in the name of public debate is creating political hostilities, animosity and hysteria in the country. Abusing and screaming in debates on tv channels becoming a model for youth to follow. All are aware that it is a money-making exercise. It is not educating youth about political affairs.
So, it's not only Nupur (if she has erred) but the media that needs more restrictions and restraints. They are devoid of sense of social responsibility these days. One expects fair and just treatment given equally by the highest judiciary, which is a constitutional duty of the judiciary. "Justice is not only done, but seems to be done" in a democratic system.
In India, unfortunately, sometimes the justice delivery system seemed to be tilted more towards the perpetrators than the victim. An average Indian citizen has a lot of faith and confidence in the Judiciary, but experience like Nupur Sharma drives a wedge between the hope and respect of the common people and the highest judiciary.
Since Nupur was having full faith in the Supreme Court of the country she approached it. What she asked from the court was her right. She was not to be scolded and rejected without any fault of hers. Like any other citizen of India, she has chosen the very valid and legal recourse. She was not the first and only one asking for such legal remedy. It is difficult for a person and that too a woman to run all over the country against some political targeting where motivated FIRs are filed against her. The court should stop such practices because such FIRs are very vindictive in nature.
Her petition could have just been rejected but without compromising the dignity of a woman. The treatment of Nupur by the Highest Judiciary will send a far-reaching message to the women of this country -not to join politics- if only for the reason of being part of a political party and becoming part of political system denies her the very rights granted to every citizen of the country will dissuade women to join politics which already has a dismal status. For the common people of India, they carry an image of judiciary as "judiciary can do no wrong" and as "last resort for justice".
It is high time that the judiciary of India should uphold the trust and faith of people of India by not playing into the hands of narrative makers. Judiciary, especially the highest one is the last hope of citizens of India generally and common people of India particularly. Please His/her Highness keep the flag of hope and justice held high. Let the ray of hope to protect the citizens from the darkness of arbitrariness not obliterated. You are the hope of common and justice-loving people. So be it.
The Author is an Assistant Professor at NLIU, Bhopal.
[The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Verdictum does not assume any responsibility or liability for the contents of the article.]