All except the mighty are equal before law

Joginder Singh

The Goa education minister’s son, Rohit, was recently arrested in connection with the rape of a German teenager.
Rohit, an MBA student, was accused by a German woman of raping her minor daughter in October 2008. It took more than a month for the police to arrest the minister’s son. As it normally happens, the minister claims that the case is politically motivated and is an attempt to tarnish his image.
This is not the only case in India involving a high-profile and influential individual and his children. The son of a director-general of police from Orissa was not only arrested but also convicted and sentenced for rape. He jumped bail and his father, who had stood surety from him, has been suspended from service for helping his son evade the law.
Similarly, a Union minister reportedly beat up the station manager of an airline at Patna airport in November this year. The only “fault” of the airline employee was that he did not delay the flight’s departure to suit the minister’s late arrival. Later, the minister denied the allegation and said it was just “mischief” on the part of the airlines.
Earlier this year, another politician brazenly abused his power in similar circumstances. A Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, P.V. Abdul Wahab, was accused of entering the cockpit of a flight and abusing the pilot. But the MP defended himself by saying that the pilot had behaved rudely.
Not many people are surprised by such reports. After all, what is the point of being high and mighty if you cannot have your way?
Misuse of position to indulge in illegal acts and high-handed behaviour is not prevalent just in India but all over the world. The high and mighty do not lead a sexless and colourless life, neither there nor here. The key difference is that in developed countries politicians are hauled up for their errors.
Nobody can forget the affair between the former United States President, Mr Bill Clinton, and a 22-year-old White House intern, Ms Monica Lewinsky. Mr Clinton admitted, in taped grand jury testimony on August 17, 1998, that he had had an “improper physical relationship” with Ms Lewinsky. He was acquitted.
As per the notes of the former director of the French spy agency, Yves Bertrand, the present French President Nicholas Sarkozy had an affair with the wife of one of his present Cabinet members about four years ago, when he was serving as interior minister.
The IMF chief and former French finance minister, Mr Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has also been investigated over alleged abuse of power involving a subordinate. He was caught red-handed after the woman’s husband discovered an email. Mr Strauss-Kahn owned up to the tryst, but stressed that his transgressions ended there. He issued an apology to the lady, the IMF staff and his French TV-personality wife Anne Sinclair for what he called “my error in initiating this relationship”. He was let off on the ground that his effectiveness was not affected by this affair.
Mr Paul Wolfowitz was forced to resign from his job as president of the World Bank in May 2007 after it was established that he had intervened to secure unmerited promotions and severance payments for his female companion, who also worked for the organisation.
But as far as our country is concerned, even if somebody is caught with his pants down, the standard excuse is that it is either vendetta or that he has been trapped. There has not been a single case where a scamster politician or a public servant has admitted his offence.
The country’s justice delivery system is in shambles, as has been observed by more than one Chief Justice of India. As per the figures released by the Supreme Court of India in June 2008, there are over 2.92 crore cases pending in about 12,000 subordinate courts, 21 high courts and the Supreme Court.
These figures do not include the cases pending in various tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies such as the Central Administrative Tribunal, Income-Tax Tribunal and Debt Recovery Tribunal. If these cases are also accounted for, the arrears would go far beyond three crore.
Out of the total 2.92 crore cases, over 2.54 crore cases are pending in subordinate courts while 37.43 lakh cases are pending in various high courts. Unfortunately, the biggest litigant is the government which is involved in 70 per cent of the cases.
This burgeoning problem can be solved only if authorities strengthen the judiciary and the criminal justice system. Laws which have outlived their utility should be replaced or amended.
The government should also strive to ensure justice for everybody. The way to send the right message is to ensure quickest possible punishment to the accused and quickest acquittal of the innocent.
That all persons are equal before law should not merely remain on paper. It should be transformed into reality.
Joginder Singh is a former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation
d promotions and severance payments for his female companion, who also worked for the organisation.
But as far as our country is concerned, even if somebody is caught with his pants down, the standard excuse is that it is either vendetta or that he has been trapped. There has not been a single case where a scamster politician or a public servant has admitted his offence.
The country’s justice delivery system is in shambles, as has been observed by more than one Chief Justice of India. As per the figures released by the Supreme Court of India in June 2008, there are over 2.92 crore cases pending in about 12,000 subordinate courts, 21 high courts and the Supreme Court.
These figures do not include the cases pending in various tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies such as the Central Administrative Tribunal, Income-Tax Tribunal and Debt Recovery Tribunal. If these cases are also accounted for, the arrears would go far beyond three crore.
Out of the total 2.92 crore cases, over 2.54 crore cases are pending in subordinate courts while 37.43 lakh cases are pending in various high courts. Unfortunately, the biggest litigant is the government which is involved in 70 per cent of the cases.
This burgeoning problem can be solved only if authorities strengthen the judiciary and the criminal justice system. Laws which have outlived their utility should be replaced or amended.
The government should also strive to ensure justice for everybody. The way to send the right message is to ensure quickest possible punishment to the accused and quickest acquittal of the innocent.
That all persons are equal before law should not merely remain on paper. It should be transformed into reality.

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