The system of law and justice is in essence a simple one. A person gets accused of a crime, a board of lawyers, judges and jury assemble and pass a verdict on whether the accused actually did commit the crime or not and a punishment is decided upon, usually depending on the severity of the crime committed. Yet practically, this isn’t how cases unfold.
In India, cases take years on end to reach a conclusion. Furthermore, if the accused has “connections”, there isn’t even a guarantee if he/she would get convicted. One doesn’t even have to think at that high a level. Persons accused of petty thievery also easily get off by bribing the policemen and getting the case dropped. This really begs the question, is certainty of justice more important than severity of punishment?
A certain guarantee of justice would definitely be a move in the forward direction. First of all, the victims of any given crime would feel more empowered and supported. This is especially important since a lot of times, victims of a crime won’t even come forward to voice their complains. Why do you think women who are teased and catcalled at on a regular basis do not go to the police? First of all, this isn’t something what anyone would want to talk about, add to that the fact that it is almost guaranteed that the culprit would not be brought to justice. Hence, a lot of such crimes are not reported which doesn’t bring this glaring issue to light.
Secondly, severity of punishment is not an effective enough deterrent of crime in the first place. A lot of times I have seen people running the red light or driving in the wrong lane just because even if they’re caught, they can just bribe the constable a little less amount than what the challan (ticket) would cost and move on. I am pretty sure if there was a certainty of punishment (like cancellation of one’s license after three strikes) then the number of such cases would drastically drop.
The most important aspect of the current scenario is how invincible celebrities, politicians and rich businessmen are. Lalu Prasad Yadav was accused of the Fodder Scam back in 1999 but he was only convicted earlier this year and that too for just 3 years. So if you wanna know what is the punishment for embezzling the funds of a promising young state, leaving it in such a dismal state that it would rank at the bottom in an already troubled country, then the answer is 3 years. He still continues to inspire many up and coming young politicians today who probably will go down the same path without any fear of conviction.
Even if one agrees that certainty of justice is a better deterrent of crime, its implementation is just wishful thinking at this point. After all, the whole industry of lawyers is built on this concept. Every person is entitled to a legal consultation, and if he/she can afford expensive, highly competent (but not necessarily ethical) lawyers who can steer their ship back to safe harbours, there can be no objection to it. Furthermore, as long as public servants keep accepting bribes, there will be people who would offer bribes to get out of trouble.
Hence, the concept of certainty of justice is utopian in nature, but that shouldn’t stop us from at least trying. As good citizens of our country, whichever one that may be, we should report any wrongdoings we see, pay the fine instead of bribing a lesser amount to the officer, and if, for some reason we happen to commit a crime, come clean about it and face the music. Only good citizens can make a country great.
Should our punishments be more severe or should our justice be more certain? What do you think? Tell me about it in the comments section. Also, do not forget to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. For any queries or collaboration, you can always contact me.