Question: Anitha Mohan
Are we not in a doomed situation in our country when political or administrative power manipulate the law and flout the individual rights like the Unnao rape case?
Answer: Saji Mathew Kanayankal CST
The question become very relevant in the background of many contemporary events in India, especially the Unnao Rape case. In fact, it is one among the many, the most recent one. The rape case victim of Unnao met with an accident few days back and the truck driver who hit the car claims that the event was merely an accidental one! But there is serious doubt regarding the incident and some would see it as a systematic, constant, vicious and remorseless atrocity of the powerful rich legislator who was accused of the rape case. However, so far there is no evidence to prove the accusation!
The eighteen-year victim of rape and the entire family was attacked because she dared to question the gruesome atrocity of the powerful political leader. Many people see it as a systematic manipulation of the power, a very highly brilliant act of abomination. It is not first time that a person with certain serious dispute with a political leader or someone who makes serious allegation against the powerful authority meet with an accident or death. We are familiar with the fake stories of encounter, murder and conspiracy and other similar accusations! Unnao incident clearly depicts the picture of the failure of Indian system and deep-rooted corruption and nepotism inside it. Does it mean that the very essence of truth to be impotent and of the very essence of power to be deceitful? Don’t we not see the immense silence of the political and other leaders of the society, like the heads of the village or other religious or local leaders, who otherwise would rise their voice for justice and righteousness. In such a situation of monopoly of power, who will fight for justice for such poor and unprivileged victims? First of all, the whole incident is a visible sign of the decay of Indian democracy and secondly, it is a clear example of the delay of our legal system that deny justice to the victims.
The Decay of Political and Moral Integrity
Flouting of the individual rights by the powerful leaders basically raises questions on the political and moral integrity of our country as well as our leaders. Aristotle has viewed politics as the actions of human beings in the communities and for him the most important role of it is to bring happiness in the society by helping the citizens to lead a virtuous life. He defines political community as partnership, and citizens of a political community are partners, who pursue a common good. However, in the present world, most of our political leaders forget these high ideals, and instead they look for sheer personal gain and benefit. They misuse the public office for their private gain and self-gratification at the expense of others. When politics loses its relationship with ethics, it becomes rotten with corruption in which the individual rights and common good would be jeopardized. The victims of these corrupted system will be doomed into an utterly broken situation. As the UNO declaration underlines, corruption thus becomes an “insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.”
This kind of sheer corrupted acts disregard fairness, equity or equality in a society. Power is misused for the satisfaction of the rich and the blind administrative and government machineries support them without any moral and ethical values that lead to the deterioration of person as well as society. In such a system, people who work on right principles are considered to be foolish and their fight for the execution of justice and righteousness will be counted as worthless effort! As the system of the powerful is excessive and influential, it is easy to erase the crimes one had done and with some malicious stories they can easily put down the victims again. With the use of new generation social media, it is easy to spread fake news or false stories that tarnish the good name and fame of any one. Not only the victim, but also those who are supporting him or her will be branded with many deceitful names as rebels, terrorists or anti-nationalists. In short, if the powerful does some evil, one has to either cooperate with it or at least to be silent at the face of atrocities. The poor and powerless have to bear with it as their fate! The methods of silencing are also many. One of the easiest ways used by the administrative system is the brand of nationalism or the ultimatum of disciplinary action. Any group of people needs discipline for its benefit and the country needs it for the regular and smooth functions. But which has got more value? When truth is jeopardised, justice is denied, righteousness is totally taken away and the fundamental right of an individual is coveted, how can one be silent and how long should it go?
The Delay and the Denial of Justice
Securing Justice to all citizens is one of the key mandates of the Indian constitution. The story of Unnao reveals the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of our legal system mingled with political and administrative menace. The victim of the Unnao rape case has complained in the local police station about the crime in 2017 but it is reported that the FIR is registered without mentioning the name of Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the accused who is a BJP legislator from Bangarmau assembly of Unnao district. The issue came into light in April 2018, when the woman attempted suicide outside the house of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, alleging that the police did not act on her complaint. The victim’s father was taken into custody and he was brutally tortured by the police officials and he died in custody. Her uncle was arrested and in the recent accident her aunts were killed. She is critically injured. On the other side, the perpetrator has the protection and patronage of the highest order. Though Sengar has been the custody of CBI since last year, his influence and inordinate clout at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh remains.
While we closely observe the Unnao rape case, it is evident that the wheel of justice rolls very slow! The trial in this case did not move an inch for over a year in Uttar Pradesh, despite it necessitating a fast-track disposal on two counts: one, it is a POCSO case and two, the main accused is a legislator. As per the order of the Supreme Court, all POCSO cases to be ideally completed within one year of cognisance and the cases against MPs or MLAs are to be decides within one year and there should be special courts to be set up for the same. Both these stipulations have not been met in this case. Moreover, the judge in the special CBI court where the charge sheet was filed, Vatsal Shrivastava, got transferred out on May 30, this year. The new judge is yet to hear the matter. It is reported that the family of the girl has written nearly three dozen letters to the police and the administrative authorities over the past three months complaining threat from the legislator, but no action was taken to protect them.
As per the Constitution of India, Article 39 A, the state has the responsibility to ‘secure equal justice and free legal aid for all the citizens and the opportunities to secure justice should not be denied by reason of economic or other disabilities.’ As the former Supreme Court Judge B.P. Singh observes, the experiences of past years show that the state has failed squarely on addressing some very basic issues–quick and inexpensive justice and protecting the rights of poor and the vulnerable. On the one side, the millions of cases are clogging the system which takes so much time that even a generation too short to get any type of redressal! On the other hand, the poor and vulnerable are kicking away from the bureaucratic and of our legal and administrative system. Speaking on a topic “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: The Plight of Indian Poor” at Observer Research Foundation, on May 13, 2005, Justice B.P. Singh said; “the situation today is so grim that if a poor is able to reach to the stage of a High Court, it should be considered as an achievement.” For the vast majority of the Indian population, justice is a mirage and those who have both power and money can easily manipulate the incidents and can create any fabricated stories. Sometimes people who fight for justice and truth are accused of some other crimes and we can see the administrative machineries would be very keen and active to make them criminals!
The three pillars of democracy – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary- have their own responsibility in slowing down the process of justice and most of the times we can see a meaningful silence of the ‘fourth pillar’ i.e., the media. Many so called main stream media are accused of the ‘paid news syndrome’ now. As a result, the truth is hidden, democracy is weakened, justice is denied, victimisation is increased and the poor and the powerless are brutally oppressed.
It is high time to protest against such kind of atrocities in the society. Unnao is not a single event. We have many instances of the same kind and many of us are keeping silence, because it does not affect us directly! Sometimes we are not aware about the vicious circle that encompasses us all. Moreover, there is also a growing fear of the powerful administrative and political system that wrap the entire society. When the corrupted persons hold power in the society- in political, social or religious realm, they forget the fundamental ethos and act merely for self-gratification. It is the duty and responsibility of each individual in a democratic society to challenge and question such evil systems and persons in a peaceful way. As far as money rules, the victory is not that easy. But with the bloodshed and tears of the people like the victim of Unnao, we hope the truth will prevail and ultimately the perpetrators will be punished in a due manner.