Some of my most favourite Hindi movies songs have been penned by Shakeel Badayuni and have Naushad’s music. This has been sung by my favourite singer Hemant Kumar and picturised on the village school teacher Abhi Bhattacharya in 1961 movie Ganga Jamuna:
Insaaf kii Dagar pe, bachcho.n dikhaao chal ke
Ye desh hai tumhaaraa, netaa tumhii.n ho kal ke
Duniyaa ke ra.nj sahanaa aur kuchh na mu.Nh se kahanaa
Sachchaaiyo.n ke bal pe aage ko ba.Dhate rahanaa
Rakh doge ek din tum sa.nsaar ko badal ke
Insaaf kii …
Apane ho.n yaa paraae sabake liye ho nyaay
Dekho kadam tumhaaraa haragiz na Dagamagaae
Raste ba.De kaThin hai.n chalanaa sambhal-sambhal ke
Insaaf kii …
Insaaniyat ke sar par izzat kaa taaj rakhanaa
Tan man bhii bhe.nT dekar Bharat kii laaj rakhanaa
Jiivan nayaa milegaa a.ntim chitaa me.n jal ke,
Insaaf kii …
India had become a free nation less than a decade and half back and there was heady idealism in the air. These young ignited minds of our villages (India lives in its villages!) were being taught to walk on the path of Truth and Justice unwaveringly so as not just to become future netas of the country but also be filled with the promise of changing the world.
Mahatma Gandhi’s My Experiments With The Truth and Satyagraha goaded us to always seek the Truth and be counted amongst men of stature. Our schools, wherein mottoes generally adorned the walls, had Truth is God and God is Truth painted across in large letters.
It was a lofty objective but there was a sizable number of people who still believed in the Truth and saw merit in fighting for it.
It wasn’t as if that was an ideal or idealist India; the Truthful were then too poor and miserable and Liars ruled then too and lived in comfort and luxury. The path of Truth was then too more difficult than the path of Evil. The difference is that it wasn’t considered totally impractical or to be jeered at as something bereft of realities of life. Those who walked on the path of Truth were respected.
Recently, when actor Salman Khan was acquitted of all charges against him for negligently and drunkenly driving his Land Rover, late night in 2002, that went out of control on to a footpath and killed a labourer sleeping there, there was a public outcry about whether the surviving family of the victim should have sought Justice and Truth or should have shamefacedly accepted the underhand compensation that the accused would have given them and which, allegedly, would have led to the case being allowed to go awry after having been proved beyond reasonable doubts in the High Court judgment of 06 May 2015 that sentenced him to five years imprisonment? It seems that they and others involved with the case followed the more practical path than insaaf ki dagar.
A few years back a person that I am related to accepted compensation for his young son having been killed in a road accident when it was clearly the other party’s fault. I was shocked. But then my relation explained that the family had belatedly made peace with their fate and gotten over the initial trauma; and, they didn’t want to subject themselves to the trauma of seeking justice through the Indian courts.
In April 2012 I wrote an article titled ‘The Great Indian Judicial Circus‘ to bring out the true face of the Indian judicial system. I had brought out that seeking Justice through such a system is not just naive but extremely frustrating, humiliating and devoid of all dignity.
Recently, I started seeing on my computer (through Internet) old Hindi movies that I had missed out during my younger days. In many of these, a barrister was always depicted as a person of high repute. Take Adalat and Mamta as just two examples. Pradeep Kumar in the former and Ashok Kumar in the latter return after their law education in London and on return occupy a most revered position in the society. Their personal integrity and morals were supposed to be beyond reproach. Before that, we had the lofty example of the great barristers like MK Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, Chittranjan Das, Vallabhai Patel, Motilal Nehru, and others whose value system is worth emulating.
What about now? The present day lawyer or advocate is as far from seeking Truth and Justice as can get. Indeed, one of the major reasons that the Indian judicial system is in such a mess is because of the avarice of the Indian lawyer (Please also read: ‘Why Do Indian Lawyers Behave Like Gods?’).
It is because of the Indian judicial system that if you started a case in order to seek justice, it or other cases arising out of it would be pending for the rest of your life whilst both the contending lawyers would have made more money through your cases than your original loss against which you sought justice. The Salman Khans of the nation do not have cases pending against them because their money power ensures that they get expedient justice whilst some 46 Lakh cases are pending in the High Courts and thousands in the Supreme Court. But, if you are an ordinary citizen, to your original misfortune (against which you seek justice) is added the misfortune that you pay for in terms of money, loss of peace, dignity, physical and mental health.
The judicial system provides for judicial immunity enjoyed by the judges and others employed by the judiciary from liability resulting from their judicial actions. Cases where the judges have misused this immunity are increasingly surfacing in the media and public debate nowadays. But immunity generally does extend to all judicial decisions in which the judge has proper jurisdiction, even if a decision is made with “corrupt or malicious intent”. More and more cases are coming out in the open these days wherein the judges had been bought.
My family in general and I in particular have been at the receiving end of trying to get justice through the court for someone having encroached upon our land in Himachal in the year 1999, sixteen years back. We are now mired in so many cases that the original case (five times decreed in our favour but repeatedly challenged in higher court by the other party because of loopholes provided by the lawyers and/or the judges) is now relatively insignificant. The closest analogy that comes to one’s mind is that of making you forget your headache by hitting yourself hard on the toe with a hammer. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of seeking Truth and Justice through the corrupt and inefficient Indian judicial system.
“War” said Herman Wouk, “Is a terrible business in which thousands get killed and you are damn glad you are not one of them”. Likewise, if you have never been a victim of the Indian judicial system you are likely to have that superior air about you and look down at others who are forced to seek Truth and Justice through the system.
All seekers of Justice and Truth through the unending loop of Indian judicial system are not just ridiculed constantly for their impracticability; but also sneered at for not having evolved with the society. You are roughly in similar position as a rape victim. But, whilst people have at least sympathy for rape victims, no one has sympathy for you for being so obdurate as persisting with seeking Truth and Justice through the Indian system.
For the number of years – decades really – when you are fighting for Truth and Justice and your case drags on, you lose sleep, peace, money, dignity, reputation, respectability and as I brought out earlier, physical and mental health. Any time between one-third to half your life is spent in abject misery.
And, what is the reward waiting for you for having been loco enough to follow the path of Truth? Well, the song itself tells you:
Jeevan naya milega, antim chita mein jalake
(A new life after cremation!)
The 1957 V Shantaram movie had this very popular hymn penned by Bharat Vyas:
Ai maailik tere bande hum
(O, Master, we are your people)
Aise hon hamaare karam
(Our deeds should be such that)
Neki par chalen, aur badi se taren
(We should tread the path of Goodness and shun the Evil)
Take hanste huye nikale dum
(So that we should die happily)
Dying happily; is that all that one would hope to get after living in abject misery for greater part of one’s life fighting for Truth and Justice?
Two stark examples come into my mind. One is about the whistle blowers in our country who have sought the difficult, tedious and now increasingly dangerous path of Truth. Their antim chita (cremation) has been much sooner than expected. And second, about the fate of Right To Information activists; many of them lost dum (breath) in Maharashtra alone (just like the police protection officer did later who was traveling with Salman Khan on that fateful night in 2002 in his Land Rover) and one can only hope that they did so hanste huye (happily).
As the Indian society plunges further into the cesspool of hopelessness (today’s news, for example, brings out that 77 percent Indians live in various grades of poverty as per international norms) and more and more districts abandon the Indian law (already in about one-third of our districts, the Maoist belt that is, Indian rule of law, justice and governance is negligible), we have to find newer ways to convince people that virtues and human values still have a place in our society. Fighting for Truth and Justice through the Indian system is already a dodo.
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