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‘The Cost (literal) of Justice in India’- Someone’s Plight, Someone’s Delight

It's not just the system that causes the big amount burden on the helpless victims, but also the lawyers who drain the people and fill their own accounts

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Justice in India, Credits- Pixabay
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– by Parth Damodia

February 12, 2017: So how much do you think a trip to a high court with your own case is going to cost you?

Well, if you ask a person who out of the 35 years of his life on this planet has spent about 3 years of time only in visiting the same old building in the name of justice, he wouldn’t have an answer other than a face reflecting the pain and the sufferings the system has caused him/her. The Indian Constitution is the biggest of it’s kind. In such a big constitution it’s really a shame to come to

The Indian Constitution is the biggest of it’s kind. In such a big constitution it’s really a shame to come to realise that there is very little space for justice for the common people. By common people, I mean the middle-class people and the people who cannot afford the financial damage caused by the regular visits to the so-called temple of justice.

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It’s not just the system that causes the big amount burden on the helpless victims, but also the lawyers who drain the people and fill their own accounts. The case about the lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi who was accused of not being able to file the income tax return forms was charged with about 57 crore rupees worth fine from the court. His statement was that there was a termite problem which resulted in the destruction of all his files and papers related to the issue. Then he said that he had bought laptops worth about 5 crores for his associates and the people working under him, assuming that the cost of each laptop being around 40,000, it is almost about 1,250 laptops for each of his associates. Well anyone in their right mind would not give their associates over a thousand laptops. Also, the Jodhpur Tax Commissioner discovered cash withdraws from the lawyer’s account ranging from 7 to 32 crore rupees.

The constitution of India states equal justice laws for everyone in the country despite one’s caste, creed, financial status or jobs. Then why do the rich people get away so easily? It’s because they have something that everyone doesn’t: Money. In today’s situation, the crime doesn’t speak as much as the money.

The amount of money on the table makes a lot of difference. For example, if you are arrested on the charges of attempt to murder then if you are rich, the first thing your family would do (given they have this sort of mindset) is bribe the victim to drop the charges. And it’s a universal fact that not many have been able to stand their grounds when a large amount of money is dropped on their tables.

The judiciary system in our country on a large basis not controlled by the judges’ fair judgment but the people with resources and the money reserves. They get caught and they sound the judgment for themselves.

The only class of people who get affected a lot is the middle class and the lower class who cannot afford to bribe the officials in order to save themselves or their family members since they do not possess such vile intentions of breaking the moral values nor they have such money reserves as the upper class to bribe the officials.

For the middle and the lower class, the cost of justice in India is not in the money bills but in a person’s life. To get justice in India is probably harder than to survive in this country where if you do not have contacts and the money, you are not eligible to live.

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Another example of the money driven courtroom is the celebrities. The celebrities who get caught never get the judgment that they are supposed to. Taking the case of Salman Khan who got caught in the poaching of blackbuck case and the hit and run case.

Both the cases still go on while the actor is busy releasing more movies and singing new songs and the general public as dumb they can worship him like blind followers. This is the state of this country that when an actor who is involved in a hit and run case is considered to be one of the best actors in the country.

People encourage him to do new movies and literally do not care what the person has done. Innocent people have died because of him, and the public wants to see him as a superhero. And when the time comes for justice for a casual, normal, common man, it seems as if he is never going to get justice in this lifetime.

First off he cannot afford a hotshot lawyer who would charge him around 5-10 lakhs for every 10-minute hearing. Nor there are good lawyers who take cases of such people as pro bono. The judges and lawyers basically wait for you to either die of old age or run out of money to get rid of the case. Then your plea would just be some words in a file gathering dust in a file room which has no significance in reality. This is exactly the situation of our country.

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In these days the blind lady is no longer the unbiased one who was supposed to pass the judgment but even she has an eye peeked out for the money.

Centre for Social Action (CSA) is the development wing of Christ University. Set up in 1999, it believes in strengthening student community with a view to enabling positive changes in the society. Athina Ann Thomas is a volunteer at the organisation.

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee: A Peace Visionary and a Man Who Believed in India’s Destiny and was Ready To Fight For It

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee -- one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it -- that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum.

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's peace visionary. Image: Flickr

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man of moderation in a fraternity of jingoistic nationalists; a peace visionary in a region riven by religious animosity; and a man who believed in India’s destiny and was ready to fight for it.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93), who died on Thursday, will go down in history as a person who tried to end years of hostility with Pakistan and put development on the front burner of the country’s political agenda. He was also the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term.

Even though he lived the last 13 years of his life in virtual isolation, dogged by debilitating illnesses and bedridden, he has left an enduring legacy for the nation and the region where he was much loved and respected across the political spectrum and national boundaries, including in Pakistan.

Vajpayee, former Indian Prime Minister
Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the tumultuous period he presided over the destiny of the world’s largest democracy, Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state and then almost went to war with Pakistan before making peace with it in the most dramatic fashion.
In the process, his popularity came to match that of Indira Gandhi, a woman he admired for her guts even as he hated her politics.

He also became the best-known national leader after Indira Gandhi and her father Jawaharlal Nehru.

After despairing for years that he would never become Prime Minister and was destined to remain an opposition leader all his life, he achieved his goal, but only for 13 days, from May 16-28, 1996, after his deputy, L.K. Advani, chose not to contest elections that year.
His second term came on March 19, 1998, and lasted 13 months, a period during which India stunned the world by undertaking a series of nuclear tests that invited global reproach.

Although his tenure again proved short-lived, his and his government’s enhanced stature following the world-defying blasts enabled him to return as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13, 1999, a tenure that lasted a full five-year term.

When finally he stepped down in May 2004, after an election that he was given to believe he would win, it marked the end of a long and eventful political career spanning six decades.

Vajpayee had gone into these elections riding a personality cult that projected him as a man who had brought glory to the nation in unprecedented ways. The BJP’s election strategy rested on seeking a renewed mandate over three broad pillars of achievement that the government claimed — political stability in spite of the pulls and pressures of running a multi-party coalition; a “shining” economy that saw a dizzying 10.4 percent growth in the last quarter of the previous year; and peace with Pakistan that changed the way the two countries looked at each other for over 50 years.

The results of the elections could not have come as a greater shock to a man who was hailed for his achievements and who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 influential men of the decade.

Success didn’t come easily to the charismatic politician, who was born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, into a family of moderate means. His father was a school teacher and Vajpayee would later recall his early brush with poverty.

He did his Masters in Political Science, studying at the Victoria College in Gwalior and at the DAV College in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where he first contested, and lost, elections. He began his professional career as a journalist, working with Rashtradharma, a Hindi monthly, Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly, and two Hindi dailies, Swadesh and Veer Arjun. By then he had firmly embraced the ideals of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
But even as he struggled to win electoral battles, his command over Hindi, the lingua franca of the North Indian masses, his conciliatory politics and his riveting oratory brought him into public limelight.

Also read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

His first entry into Parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. It was only in 1971 that he won a Lok Sabha election. He was elected to the lower house seven times and to the Rajya Sabha twice.

Vajpayee
Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975 and put her political opponents in jail. When the Janata Party took office in 1977, dethroning the Congress for the first time, he became the foreign minister.

The lowest point in his career came when he lost the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, that too from his birthplace Gwalior, after Rajiv Gandhi won an overwhelming majority following his mother Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And the BJP he led ended up with just two seats in
the 545-member Lok Sabha, in what looked like the end of the road for the right-wing party.

In no time, Vajpayee was replaced and “eclipsed” by his long-time friend L.K. Advani.
Although they were the best of friends publicly, Vajpayee never fully agreed with Advani’s and the assorted Hindu nationalist groups’ strident advocacy of Hindutva, an ideology ranged against the idea of secular India.

Often described as the right man in the wrong party, there were also those who belittled him as a moderate “mask” to a hardline Hindu nationalist ideology. Often he found his convictions and value systems at odds with the party, but the bachelor-politician never went against it.

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee — one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it — that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum. It was this trait that made him the Prime Minister when the BJP’s allies concluded they needed a moderate to steer a hardliner, pro-Hindu party.

He brought into governance measures that created for India a distinct international status on the diplomatic and economic fronts. In his third prime ministerial stint, Vajpayee launched a widely acclaimed diplomatic initiative by starting a bus service between New Delhi and Pakistan’s Lahore city.

Its inaugural run in February 1999 carried Vajpayee and was welcomed on the border by his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. It was suspended only after the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament that nearly led to a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The freeze between the two countries, including an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the border for nearly a year, was finally cracked in the spring of 2003 when Vajpayee, while in Kashmir, extended a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan. That led to the historic summit in January 2004 with then President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad — a remarkable U-turn after the failed summit in Agra of 2001. Despite the two men being so far apart in every way, Musharraf developed a strong liking for the Indian leader.

His unfinished task, one that he would probably rue, would be the peace process with Pakistan that he had vowed to pursue to its logical conclusion and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

He was not known as “Atal-Ji”, a name that translates into firmness, for nothing. He could go against the grain of his party if he saw it deviate from its path. When Hindu hardliners celebrated the destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, he was full of personal remorse for the apocalyptic action and called it — in a landmark interview to IANS — the “worst miscalculation” and a “misadventure”. He even despaired that “moderates have no place — who is going to listen to the voice of sanity?”

In his full five-year term, he successively carried forward India’s economic reforms programme with initiatives to improve infrastructure, including flagging off a massive national highway project that has become associated with his vision, went for massive privatisation of unviable state undertakings despite opposition from even within his own party.

While his personal image remained unsullied despite his long innings in the murky politics of this country, his judgment was found wanting when his government was rocked by an arms bribery scandal that sought to expose alleged payoffs to some senior members of his cabinet. His failure to speak up when members of his party and its sister organisations, who are accused of killing more than 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat, was questioned by the liberal fraternity who wondered aloud about his secular proclamations. He wanted then Chief Minister — now Prime Minister, Narendra Modi — to take responsibility for the riots and quit but was prevailed upon by others not to press his decision.

A day before his party lost power, Vajpayee was quoted as saying in a television interview that if and when he stepped down he would like to devote his time to writing and poetry. But fate ruled otherwise. The man who once rued that “I have waited too long to be Prime Minister” found his last days in a world far removed from the adulation and attention — though across the nation people prayed for his well-being — surrounded only by care-givers and close family whom he even failed to recognize. (IANS)