Tuesday, January 3, 2017

JUSTICE is Legal Justice. Moral and Sympathy are not pivotal factors.

Very often you would hear people claiming to seek justice from the Court. What you hear and what the people mean are far apart in most instances.

By justice, your right and the right of your adversary should be equally protected. Example: If your adversary is penalised for his/ her wrongdoing then it is justice that you too are penalised for your wrong doing. And if your right is protected then same goes for that of your opponent under justice.

When people say they are seeking justice in most instances they mean that  they are demanding that the Court take into account only their submissions and give cognisance only to their side of the case. The opponent/ adversary/ opposition must be declared guilty no matter what submissions they make. That is not justice. What people are seeking is backing from the Court regardless of whether they deserve backing or not as per law.

The Courts do not make laws. The Courts interpret Laws and are required to arrive at decisions/ verdicts which meet the standards dictated by the laws in force. Sympathy and morality cannot be the central basis of Justice. The laws provide the foundation of Justice.   So Courts generally issue verdict in accordance with the laws in force and  based on evidences and other submissions. Thus evidences in form of written statements, agreements, authentic documents and witnesses are crucial especially in cases wherein the primary person ( absconding, death, paralysed etc. ) cannot be cross examined.

At times it is possible that some people do not receive full justice. And guilty people are let off with light sentences or not so guilty heavily penalised. Neither are proper justice but it happens.

Let me cite 2 court verdicts related to rape charges. Rape cases are more straight forward becauses the culprit and victim is easily defined. So here one can better weigh out the scale of Justice.   In other cases like divorce settlements, property disputes or loan recovery cases, it is never what it appears to the bystanders. The cases are very complex and one has to be fully involved or aware of all details to determine who is who and what really is and what is not. Often no one party is completely wrong or right. So verdict have to be based on  irrefutable evidences and witnesses or undisputed claims.

1.  Several years back there was a rape case in a Dzongkhag Court in Central Bhutan. The victim was a 65 year old woman living alone. Two young men turned off the lights (main switch was outside) before entering her house in the night.  And the helpless elderly woman was raped at their leisure. As they were from the same village, the rapists were known to her. The victim filed a court case. The verdict was 2 years 6 months prison term for one man and the other 18 months. Somehow somebody influential decided that only one person could have committed rape and the other only assisting in pinning down the elderly lady to submission. It is possible that both the rapists got away without ever serving the actual prison terms. Those days compounding was permissible for criminal sentences below 3 years. 

2. In another alleged rape case that occurred in Thimphu and much before the above cited case in Central Bhutan,  several men got non compoundable 5 to  9 years prison term for attempted rape. A  lady had accompanied a soldier driver late in the night to the garage where he was required to keep the vehicle parked for the night. They had sex in the vehicle as the married driver could not take the lady to his nearby residence. Later, his male colleagues who were around also approached the same woman for sexual favour. She refused and they tried to corral her  by force. Fortunately, her fearful cry of protest  attracted others and rape was prevented. However, it became a widely talked about incident. Maybe the publicity created around the case was partly responsible for the rather heavy  penaly for the intended but not committed rape crime.     

It is possible that few verdicts of court cases are partly influenced by publicity or powerful backup forces. We live in a society and social forces  play influencing parts in the arbitration process and the outcome of a particular case. However, it would be very, very rare whereby an innocent party is declared fully guilty or  wrongdoers are declared completely innocent. But degree of penalties can vary depending on circumstances that actually should not have legal bearings upon cases under judicial process. 

One must also know that Judges have certain leeways in deciding the quantum of penalty. This is built into the laws. So it cannot be construed as injustice.

Example: Suppose as per law, a guilty verdict warrants a minimum of 1 month to a maximum of 1 year prison term. If you had not cared a dam about the case or were rudely manipulative during the judicial proceess, if found  guilty, you may probably receive the full maximum penalty of 12 months. And in the event,  you had behaved decently and had cooperated during the judicial process, the judge  might deduce that there is still some goodness in you and decide on the minimum one month prison term. This is part of Justice not injustice because there are ways to seek redemption even during judicial process.

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