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(This essay was originally written for an All India Essay Competition)
THE COMMENCEMENT When India became a swaraj from the shackles of British Raj, way back in 1947, ‘we the people’ made a rendezvous with destiny to refurbish the social order so as to guarantee to each person precious rights, equivalent opportunities and developmental justice without which the very pledge of the right to be human becomes a constitutional sanctimony, political opium and alluring judicial chimera. The haut monde and the elite sector of the country have, perhaps, had it in high-quality but those clusters of elfin creature, many millions who are imperceptible, suppressed and struggling for their subsistence had never discerned the colour of justice and sense the pleasure of evenhandedness. Social justice, in its semantic sweep and deliverance in its many dimensions, were the energetic clout of the struggle for independence but ‘the reality today’ is the mendicant and marginalized discovering their alleyway for living in dignity, integrity, identity and meeting indispensable wants. Is it an endless discovery which is not discovered hitherto and intricate to discover and discern? The poor people usually endure from manifold micro cum macro forms of insecurity financially, physically and socially which upshots in their hungriness, homelessness and hideousness. They are discriminated against, subject to odious vehemence, heinous harassment, and impetuous intimidation by the mightiest, wealthiest and even by the state which is the highest. The people breathing under the cloud of susceptibility and breed in the castle of poverty usually enjoy, to a much lesser degree than others, respect for their human decorum, right to privacy, adequate clothing and participation in cultural life. These suppressed and oppressed chunks of the society are socially segregated lacking the basic capability to assume the appearance in public
without ignominy and partake actively in the social, cultural and political life of their communities. Their voice is vanished amidst the nauseating noises of the creamy creed sodden in opulence and ostentation who dominate overlooking the dogma of democracy and ethics of egalitarianism. The cream of the crop including the polite less politicians, bureaucratic babus and even Samaritans instead of listening to the excruciating paroxysm of rejected and dejected quarter, tangos to the rhythm of moneyocratic men. The deprived and destitute segments turn desperate by knocking the door of the omega option ‘the judiciary’ for getting fair trail of justice due to its exorbitant entry and procrastination process making judiciary, a formidable redress machinery. Even if free legal aid is available to the poor, they may lack the necessary information and self-confidence to seek remedy from the courts. For whom does the judiciary give justice? For whom do the judge’s robes offer hope? For whom do the carillons of the constitution clang for? Human rights will metamorphose into a myth if inhuman blackguardism beset the macro sector of the masses. There is no doubt in that. Today, India is wedged in a dialectical and veritable contradiction landing in a perilously dilemma. The expressions in the constitution created a sovereign secular socialist democratic republic. But reality is crowded with the crowd in perfect prejudice, quotidian quandary, monetary bankruptcy, omnipresent sleaze, social alienation and cultural wantonness. The Supreme Court has held that the values of the preamble are sacrosanct and form the basic structure of the paramount parchment, but the eloquent text by itself cannot alter the dismal state of the populace when influential-socialist cabals corner preeminence. How then can the rule of law transform the rule of life? The contradiction remains to reign on the broad canvas - Sky scrapers are there for the affluent strata while there is no hut for the indigent to lie and die; creamy layer rolls in Rolls Royce but the pot holed roads in the rural village engorges; well heeled have fast foods and cokes but the descamisado don’t even have cash to buy granule or water to gulp; obesity multiply in the opulent class on one hand and on the other the number of malnourished elevate in the flimsy fraction; rich reaches the Apollo for therapy whereas the downtrodden make arrangements to the necropolis. How far will this contradiction
prevail under the Indian Welkin? Time is going to terminate and action to attenuate the augmenting lacuna is a necessity. Among the constellation of the constitutional clauses, we can see that article 39 A of the constitution of India furnishes that state shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, endow with free legal aid, by appropriate legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that prospect for securing justice are not denied to any citizen on account of economic or other disability. Article 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the state to guarantee equality before law and a legal organism which sponsor justice on the ground of equivalent option to all. Legal aid endeavors to corroborate that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in the epistle and spirit and identical impartiality is made accessible to the demoralized, damaged and docile slice of the society. To give a statutory base to the legal aid programs through out the country on a homogeneous design, in 1987 Legal Service Authorities Act was enacted. But does the typography in the constitution suffice for abbreviate the sickening injustice done to the weaker section? Is the statutory semantics enough as a therapeutics to heal the scar of stigma contorting the visage of broken clan? Whether the poor get justice in our peninsula where Mahaveera, Mahatma and Mother Theresa bequeathed their noble values of caring the littlest, the lowest and the least? WHY DON’T THEY OBTAIN? Myriad reasons in direct and indirect can be attributed for why the marginalized sector don’t obtain relief or remedy for their grief and grievances. The prime nidus is abject poverty which is intractable, interminable and inherent in the Indian loam. Poverty stems from plethora of complex factors including the burgeoning population, towering unemployment integer, meager nutrition etc. Along with this the hostility against women – both domestic and outside adds to the human poverty. Women in our male dominated society lives with fear of battery, molestation and rape which ends up in the saga of homicide, dowrycide, saticide and suicide. What about justice? Is it set-aside from all or justicide has happened?
Another thing is the characteristics of the bureaucracy in India which is too colossal, creeping, not adaptive to cope with changes etc. The system is also unaccountable, mechanical and with low motivation and morale. Many civil servants are deeply involved in partisan politics; they are preoccupied with it, penetrated by it and now participate individually and collectively in it. In the meanwhile to convince people and make their wish feasible they enter into a world of phenomenal corruption having demonic physiognomy. The concept of taking graft has changed stupendously as the time passed. In the olden days it was for need but nowadays it’s in greed. Corruption has influenced the roots and routes of the countries machinery becoming grease for the smooth lubrication of the system. The populace overlooks the scams and scandals with the same haste of its exposure devoid of doing anything needful for the reason that all are amidst presto life, bustling schedules and quantum quagmires. No one has spare time to ponder or act positively against all these menaces. This implies that we all are accomplice having a share in the crime against the injustice done on the poor human beings. Forget the people of India, articulating on the politics and politicians we can see that the politics of the country has become divorced from public welfare and is more concerned with narrow sectarian interests. The communalization and criminalization of the politics has amplified the pathos and bathos. Today’s politicians live with the key factors like obtrusive hypocrisy, camouflage agenda, communal and caste consideration. They crusade with pontificating promise, concession enticement, void vocalization and visualization overlooking the norms of divine democracy and dreaming for the scepter in plutocracy. A new culture has emerged which can be best summarized as “lick up and kick below” and “rules are for fools”. That is, the elite echelons in government who treat themselves beyond law leave the throng under the billows of oblivion but satisfy and gratify those who are above them. The verity that half the politicians in some states are either criminals or have sturdy criminal nexus further compounds the snag. All these have compelled us to yell that the men who rule us are just a part of the problem, rather than the part of the solution.
The operation of the legal system, lamentably, promotes injustice and denies equal opportunity, which is catastrophic commentary on the judicial process in a country of indigents and illiterates, slum despondent and bucolic destitute, with an administration of justice designed to price out the poor from its portals. Despite the resounding rhetoric in constitutional parchments, equal protection of the laws and a just social order remains scriptural scheme for the have-not segments of society. India is a terra firma where panorama of diverse practice could be glimpsed like sati, child marriage, bride burning, deadly dowry ubiquity, gang rape, bonded labour, prostitution etc which are marring the human map. The robed brethren without a jaundiced eye are to catalyze the constitutional process and make social justice a fact not a fiction. But the truth is the judicial pyramid is untouchable and unapproachable for the penniless common India. The judiciary is on action with multifarious hearing, dilatory finality, inefficient delivery and appellate procrastination. In short, the judicial technology is not meeting the needs of the masses. The final resort as it is deemed has even came under the penumbra of devilish corruption. Whom can we trust and who all could be pardoned? Whatever, it is judicial terrorism instead of judicial activism if the judiciary by omission, commission or conservative tradition, fails in its mission as a radical fiduciary and redemptive instrumentality of the people. The colonial hangover of the notion the ‘rulers’ and ‘ruled’, ‘governors’ and ‘governed’, the ‘us’ and ‘they’ divide our oneness and even more ancient hangover of the intuition of the ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’, the ‘upper caste’ and ‘lower caste’, ‘bada lok’ and ‘chotta lok’ etc are the stumbling blocks in ensuring social justice. In concise, the mindset of the people is the mitigating factor mangling the malady. DOLOROUS NARRATIVES Reality is rebellious. Subsequent paragraphs are crammed with the somber laceration and assertion.
To begin with the Dalits- once a vibrant human collective, but suppressed for long centuries, now in the hunt for escape with endurance- who number nearly 200 million Indians and wallow in agrestic penury. In British India, they were called ‘depressed classes’, the Mahatma labeled them ‘Harijans’; the constitution term them ‘schedule caste and schedule tribe’. Change of nomenclature did not considerably metamorphose their harrowing living circumstance and so, these traumatized communities called themselves ‘Dalits’. Laws were made to alter their wretched status. But the ray and way of hope remains at the yonder due to the rerouting resources, corrupt practices, deprivation and denial of governmental schemes by the top echelons. There is lot of instances but to cite one from U.P. where a comprehensive study has been conducted by the LBS national academy of administration and the report says that the maximum benefit of the ‘tribal schemes’ has been misappropriated by the richer section of the society. Many communities have remained under the serfdom of the rich Brahmins and Thakur ‘tribals’ in that area. Won’t they get a chance to resurrect from the chronic crushed juncture? Article 43 states that “the state shall endeavor to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organization or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the state shall endeavor to promote cottage industries on a individual or cooperative basis in rural areas”. But ‘The Truth’ is not approximating that. Workers in the slate mine in A.P. are governed by the Mines Act which does not specify minimum wages. On the other hand, the Minimum Wages Act of the state government does not apply to the mine workers. Therefore the workers there are virtually without any legislative protection. State itself is oblivious of protecting the privilege of poor. In almost all states there is a government program to set up rehabilitated colonies for SC and ST in which electricity, water and other facilities are provided. In Kerala, such colonies are often set up in suburban areas away from the traditional habitation beneficiaries. The result is that the beneficiaries, who were mostly landless agricultural labours and tenants, find themselves uprooted from their previous occupations. In some
cases, the landlords on whose lands they were tenants have used this scheme in getting them evicted from their holdings. In some other cases, where the tribal families were dependent on collection of forest products, they have now been ousted from their traditional homes in forest areas and have been given new houses in urban centers away from the previous places. Such transplantation often suits forest officials but is not in the interest of the poor as they have no alternate secured employment in their new surroundings. Thus the implementation of housing for the poor resulted in acute injustice to the poor populace. Urban slum dwellers are not entitled to water or light connections unless they have a legal title of land. Since most of them are forced to be encroachers, they get caught up in a vicious cycle of degraded living conditions without minimal facilities. In P.G. Gupta V. State of Gujarat 1995 Supp (2) SCC 182) the S.C. stated that the right to residence and settlement is a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (e) and is considered to be inseparable and meaningful facet of right to life under Article 21. Pronouncements are made but the question is whether it’s made into practical. In government we are confronted with dazzling dimensions of ostensibly omnipresent corruption. The scenario appears dreary and disappointing with cynicism, apathy and ennui on the part of the bureaucracy which is the ever increasing norm. The ordinary public seems condemned to suffer with fatalism or despair with odd jiffy of relief with the sporadic upright and fearless officer. The Official Secrets Act is used as a weapon and alibi by the bureaucracy to preserve opacity and puzzlement of its functioning, to shun accountability. Jails, risk homes for women, mental asylum, juvenile homes and all other custodial organization, often become hub of abuse of their inmates again mainly because of their lack of transparency. Zillions of sad sagas are battling around us but it’s difficult to express every segment and sequence.
THE THERAPY To aid the poor is to aid ourselves. To give justice in its fullest extreme, we have to annihilate poverty from our land if not entirely. The subtraction of poverty is not an emergency action, but an ongoing process requiring time and thought. Measures to promote the poors right of access to justice include the following: (1) introducing information campaigns, in slums and other areas where the poor dwell; (2) increasing the number of courts, tribunals and non-formal dispute resolution mechanism; (3) increasing the salary of judges and law enforcement personnel, especially in poor areas; (4) establishment of law clinics exclusive for poor; (5) extending legal aid for poor in both civil and criminal proceedings; (6) establishment training programs for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on the right of the poor to non-discrimination; (7) eliminating corruption in the administration of justice; (8) easy finality and simpler proceedings. Laws exist but many of them are shoddily implemented. Some of them need review and retrospection. There is a long way to go in terms of checking effective enforcement of the law and ensuring its reasonableness. In between the process we have to restore the credibility of the ‘steel frame’. To make more IAS officers stand up without their taste and temptation is by mounting the stability of their tenure, bringing transparency, curbing corruption, animating accountability to the people etc. But above all good governance is an inevitable desideratum to ensure sustainable human fruition where every one could get equal justice and has equal opportunity to hoist their voice and noise. SANGUINE SWADDLING India is a land with hydro, herbal and human resources; our colossal yogic, ayurvedic, plural pharmacopic and diversely cultural heritages, insightful ideological convictions, towering cerebral erudition, our mythical stockpiles and philosophical
profundity have engrossed the world from ancient times and even today, if we hold together we can hold the world in trepidation given the catalyst constituent of ‘do or die’ nationalism and chronological accomplishments. But we have lost faith in our interstrength and the will to win. The fault, dear Indians, is not in our stars, but in us. Dr. Ambedkar pressing for the final passage of the constitutional bill wrote “independence is no doubt a matter of joy. But let us not forget that this independence has thrown us great responsibilities. By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame except ourselves”. Therefore, arise, awake and unite and struggle for constitutional values so that all the Indians can realize and relish justice irrespective of their caste, colour, position or privilege. In succinct, we can create an enhanced paradise on the garden of India where aroma of justice spreads to all corners and corridors.
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