23 July 2012

Justice Besieged

In Mannar, it is alleged that a judge was threatened.  It is not ‘alleged’ that the court house was damaged; it is a fact.  Not the first time.  We have had judges being booed.  We have had people being shot in court houses.  And we have had judges embarrassing themselves, their vocation and the institutions of justice.  

No institution is perfect and no individual a saint.  That’s given.  This is why there is a thing called social contract.  This is why there are things called checks and balances.  This is why the notion of ‘separation of power’ is a fundamental tenet of a constitutional democracy.  Nations have mechanism which can be used to seek redress if believed to have been wronged.  The bottom line: the ‘aggrieved’ must defer to institution and procedure and cannot take law into own hands!  In this instance, judge and judgment have been questions, but outside the legal framework and in ways that are clearly out of order.  It doesn’t help the cause of justice; it only subverts it.

Each transgression that is not responded to is a brick taken out of the edifice of justice.  That edifice has now lost many bricks.  It is good that the President has ordered a probe into the incident, but this measure itself indicates institutional and procedural inadequacy.  The book should contain mechanism to respond and not wait on presidential directive. In other words, ‘Mannar’ didn’t begin in Mannar but is just a road-stop on a long journey of the lawless, picking one brick here and another there.

The President can and must direct, but in this case the focus should be on a malady that is larger than ‘Mannar’ and is rooted in a culture of inaction and impunity.  

[Part II of 'The Nation' Editorial, July 22, 2012] 


sajic said...

I do NOT advocate 'instant justice'. I have seen it at its worst in Africa. But what does the common man do when persons in power and govt literally get away with murder? How long do you expect people to watch silently?
I read recently that the police were fining BEGGARS! That's the ultimate farce.

Shaik Ahamath said...

For good governance in a democracy, Separation of Powers is sacrosant. Even if a judgement is blatantly wrong, there are mechanisms to rectify and that should be the only path to take.

sajic said...

I agree. But what if govts continually reject or obstruct these mechanisms?