Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Wronged Notion of Justice!

We have been traditionally told and have been listening to this notion of justice, "It is better to free a hundred criminals than to punish one innocent". This was the topic of discussion over the lunch few days back, trigger to these rants :)

While I partially agree to this "philosophy" or "governing rule" when delivering justice in a perfect state of affairs. However, I have a strong objections to this 'rule' when it comes to real world, where hundreds misuse this premise and go scot-free and only the innocents are trapped because they have no mean to manipulate the system.

The basic notion of 'innocent' until proven guilty - is flawed - because the process itself is such - that the minute one is "charged" with a misdeed, he or she is branded as guilty and then they proceed towards proving innocence. So, why do we play around with lofty 'guiding' principles to romanticize justice?

I don't mind a few innocent being punished, if a lot of wrong-doers are brought to justice. That would be small co-lateral damage to justify a larger good. At least in this case, justice is being done in punishing the ones who deserve to be punished!

What's so wrong about having a few 'unfortunate' victims? Look at the world around you. 'Clashes of Civilizations', 'Wars on Terror', etc, etc, (guess I'm deviating from the topic...)

This brings me to the point of how we actually treat people who have served time or have been tried in the court of justice? (Remember I'm using the word 'people' irrespective of whether they actually committed a crime or not!)

Just because a person was in jail/under trail, does not mean that he should not be hired, does not mean that he's not honest, does not mean that he'll always try to cheat you or necessarily murder you! Does it? But, that's how we perceive, there's always en element of doubt - without even finding out the Truth - Aaah!! We don't have time for that! Do we?

There are two, no three, may be four different classes of people coming out of the entire process of justice. Let us look at these on by one - forgive me if my count is not accurate enough at this point of time.

1. The Untouchables, biggies from the world of - crime, politics, entertainment, etc - the celebrities. These are the most luckiest of the lot. Such incidents, in fact, create a buzz in media. 'People' get more interested in their stories - some in a pessimist way other just being peeping toms trying to get some juice! Its a circus! These 'victims' generally welcome this break from their otherwise busy life and enjoy the ride! Life afterwards - may or may not be the same, but they are not affected by these small hiccups! They have enough resources, stashed away, enabling a come back to their routines!

2. Hardened Criminals - being caught was a bad day - conviction even worse. But these are the ones who expect such things. This is an 'occupational hazard' - a risk which they know and plan for! Even these guys may enjoy the holiday! Life afterwards - will always be the same. Back to work after a 'long' break. May be preparation for another holiday.

3. Ordinary People who accidentally, unintentionally or intentionally did commit a wrong. Such people depending on the circumstances and how their case is treated by the law & justice - do repent. Swear never to be in the same situation again by mending their ways. These people deserve a second chance and do come back to being ordinary people again if they get their chance.    

4. The Innocents - These are the ones who should be protected in the first place. This whole post is being written for these people! Life is never the same for these if they have been thru the hell already! They'll fight back - always - to prove to the world that they were wronged. And in a good world even these people can come back to leading a normal life after a nightmare.

Now, is it just for us to judge the third and fourth category people, as we treat the first two categories? Absolutely not! But, we in fact treat them all the same! That's where the problem lies. The problem is not with one innocent being punished. It is how we treat a person after he or she has actually endured the punishment! Its about the second chances! Its about forgiving and starting afresh!

When we change this attitude, and society at large treats its 'punished lot' at par with others, even the single wronged innocent will come forward and say - I don't mind being punished if it brings justice to hundred others!

To end this note I'll leave you with a thought - Hate the wrong, not the wrong-doer. Accept the person with open arms and work with him to overcome the evil! "Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment" (Gandhi). Punishment should be for repentance and deterrence. It should not break a person (by destroying his life) but make him stronger to overpower the wrongs and evils! In such a world, there  won't be a necessity of 'courts' & 'lawyers' - people won't fear Justice but they'll themselves come forward accepting the Truth. 

Love, Truth, Forgiveness certainly are more powerful... not only powerful but also positive... than Justice and Punishment!


  1. I really dont know whether this is correct or that. I just suggest lets try one by one. May be after 3 trials we will come to a good system.

    But what ever might be the system, the implementation matter hell a lot than mere concept. Before trying out any new things, it is important to check whether we are not implementing the system correctly. If we are not, then none of the systems will work.

    Coming to the next topic, responsibility of societies at large, Yes... this is some thing every one should brood about. And it is a complex mechanism. The links of the consequences are not quite straight forward. May be the social media like Facebook, twitter or blogging may spread the word and make people to think, but not just follow

  2. Good and evil. Justice. Big topics.

    I just last night finished Paulo Coelho's book "The Devil and Miss Prym". It discusses these very topics in a way that only a master story-teller can. Justice for me may be very different that justice for you.

    If we are each true to ourselves and therefore good, that is the best we can do. Right or wrong, you decide every day.

  3. @Sudhakara's ending line... "make people to think, not just follow".. I'd say there are already enough thinking people, we don't have people who "lead".. Men and Women of Action are missing, some how and I think we too are a party in crime for this..

    @Don : Yes, Paulo Coelho is a master story teller. Not preachy, but makes the reader think and draw his own 'analysis'. I've read 'Devil & Miss Prym' too.
    Truth is different for different people. I mean, my truth may be version one of a fact and your truth may be version two of the same fact. Justice on the other hand, puts the fact in 'correct' & 'just' context and then validates single version. Which exposes it to all the manipulations.
    You're correct about the justice itself being interpreted differently. These thoughts brewed in context of present sorry state of affairs of Indian politics - one scam after another, corruption, unwillingness of the political class to make 'system' more transparent. I'm sure it's no different in your part of the world, too, the 'Economic Crises', et al.