A few decades back, one quality that was highly appreciated and sought after was the ability to “call a spade a spade”. Anyone who possessed that quality was looked at with high respect, and people in responsible positions were required to possess that “quality”. But that no more seems to be true. After the advent of much touted liberalization and free market, the portals of free thought seem to be shrinking fast. This much sought after quality is now looked down upon as an infectious disease which needs be vaccinated against! So much so that even the people who have attained everything possible in life and have actually nothing to lose by speaking the truth also make earnest efforts to be “politically correct” lest they earn the wrath of concerned people! Every day we see so many people making patently false statements and showering accolades on the people who should actually be castigated for their anti-social/self serving actions. One recent such incident that stumped me was the observations made by the First Citizen of the nation at the “National Seminar for the Welfare of Lawyers” organized by the Delhi Bar Council. Funny nation, in the first place, where the most lucrative professionals also need their “welfare” being discussed like this!
The President of the country made a statement that “the nation needs to reset its moral compass”, an interesting but highly diluted statement at that. The question that actually needs to be asked of the collective national conscience is whether, even after seventy years independence, the country does have any moral compass? If at all there is one, it needs not be reset, but totally overhauled. It seemed that the First Citizen is entirely out of touch with the ground reality about the legal profession and those practicing it. How could he, otherwise make a sweeping judgmental statement that “lawyers had played major role in ensuring the basic rights and furthering the cause of democracy.” Alas, It were true! Any citizen who has had the occasion to deal with this enlightened class of society, has an entirely a different story to share. It is the lawyers (barring a minuscule and honorable minority) who have been instrumental in basic rights being denied to majority of the people – especially the have-nots, down-trodden and marginalized sections of the society. It is not without a reason that they are one of the professions from whom a common man wants to be saved/protected! The truth is exactly the reverse of what the President wants us to believe.
Another statement he made, forced laughter! He said that he had “no hesitation in stating that the Indian legal system as a whole had lived up to the faith and confidence of the people”. Has it, really? Thirty year on and not even a single conviction of the perpetrators of the worst post-partition holocaust in the national capital – under the very nose of the national government! None of the powerful judicial wings had the guts to even question the most obnoxious statement made by the Prime Minister of the nation that added fuel to the fire and legitimized the massacre of innocent people. The entire judicial system in fact took a cue and ensured that no justice was done! No, Mr. President you are too shortsighted and suffer from selective amnesia, a national disease in such cases, if you still decide to eulogize the legal system that failed to deliver justice to the lakhs of hapless people. Not only this, this efficient system has persistently failed to protect the basic human rights of the people who are forced to fight to protect their hearths and livelihood. Barring a few bright instances, this system has actually damaged the cause of democracy to a point of almost no return by mostly keeping mum on violations of the law and the constitution by the mighty and powerful! As an example one can see the news (on the same day) of Supreme Court clearing the vitriolic young Varun Gandhi of the charges of delivering hate speeches for want of (what else) evidence.
And finally the President made another statement: “Bar deserved unequivocal recognition for stellar achievements” Yes- it does….for its achievement in the form of millions of pending case; for delay of decades in deciding petty theft case and ensuring that innocent people languish in jails for periods much larger than the maximum punishment for those crimes and for protecting the mighty and powerful from the long arm of the law! It is keeping these BRIGHT SPOTS of the legal/judicial system that forced Surjit Patar, the Gyanpeeth and Sahit Academy award winner to lament and write:
Waiting for justice,
People have transformed into trees;
Ask them to go home
Till when they will keep standing here?
Fortunately, the President could not hide the pathetic situation in the corridors of law for too long and also shared that the women lawyers have moved a petition in the Supreme Court to enforce its own verdict for providing congenial work atmosphere in the law/court rooms. A classic example of “nearer to church and farther from God”! All is not well Mr. President but it needs guts to call a spade a spade- particularly when the spades happen to be so powerful. I wish you showed those guts Mr. President!