sc’s concern

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Jul 2018 12:01:49

THE highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, has given expression to the sentiment of the saner element in the society when it deprecated the growing tendency among groups of people to take the law into their hands and deliver street justice. Delivering a judgement of far-reaching importance for maintenance of law and order in the society, the Supreme Court has asked the Parliament to enact a special law that will have salutary effect on those indulging in mobocracy and vigilantism. The court also reminded the Governments, both at the Centre and States, their responsibility of ensuring good governance and prevention of mob violence in the name of some perceived cause, whether religious or some other issue of societal significance. Grievances, disputes and issues cannot be left to be decided through mob violence or street action by vigilante groups.

The Supreme Court’s direction and concern could not have come at a better time when incidents of people delivering instant justice in streets for purportedly hurting of sentiments related to faiths, traditions, beliefs, religion are taking place in several parts of the country in which some people are lynched by unruly mobs on mere suspicion and without verifying reality of the situation or the guilt of the person involved. It is in this context that the honourable Supreme Court has made it clear that the Government must come down heavily on mobs taking the law into their hands.

However, the problem of mob-lynching, for example, cannot be solved without taking into a deeper consideration the actual reason why the people felt helpless to take the law into their hands. Most unfortunately for our country, the people have seen in the past seventy years since Independence the system of justice getting more and more slack, with justice almost always not available at all. That is because the courts operate in slow-motion all along without caring for the need of administering speedy justice. So bad has this system become that the concept of fast-track courts, too, came up. The system continued to be so rotten that even fast-track courts, too, failed to speed up things.

With this experience welling up in collective consciousness of average Indian people, the idea of street justice germinated and grew to everybody’s horror. Even as the Government takes note of the direction of the honourable Supreme Court against street justice, it will only ill-afford to ignore the reality of slow-motion working of the courts. Both, the Government and the judiciary, should put their heads and hearts together to find an effective solution to this kind of a sluggish system of law. That alone would be the best anti-dote to the mobs taking law into their hands. It is perfectly all right for the honourable Supreme Court to issue directions to the Government, but it cannot escape its own responsibility to ensure that justice is delivered in opportune time so that the people regain their lost faith in the judicial system.

In a way, thus, it is time for the the judiciary as well to take a good look at itself and rectify the cancerous delays that have entered the legal system. The Government does have its own share of blame to take, all right, but the judiciary, too, must not ignore its part of the malaise. It is time, thus, for the judiciary also to seal its fault-lines, minus which nothing could be achieved. For, any society that brings in jungle law into the streets does so because the legal law has failed at some point. If the people know that each violation, howsoever minor, is punishable under the legal law, there will take place a correction in moral conduct of the larger society as well. Because we had forgotten this basic principle, the whole problem has arisen.