Sunday, 24 May 2015

The tamed third pillar of the world's largest democracy.

The magic word 'bail'

Remember those standard 6 civics lessons, when amid the mental brouhaha of being exposed to so many new concepts, your teacher constantly reiterated how we all should be proud of being the world's largest democracy. Those who got subdued by the exorbitant length of the subject gave it a pass and became indifferent for life, and some mugged it up for scoring well. And then there were some who embraced it as one good thing that came apart from other part of the curriculum which kept adulating our glorious past, without ever giving us a peep into our problems. But anyways, the preamble, the fundamental duties, the directive principles, the constitution, the picture of it being signed and enforced, and everything related to it felt all too ebullient. It was all packaged to make one feel proud about how structured and formidable a ruling system we had. It was all meant to reinforce that it is indeed the proleteriat that takes the shots in the country. And boy was I waiting for the next 8 years to pass so that I could get my voter identification. I considered getting the hallowed indelible ink on my finger as one of the most eidetic of all the things that could ever happen. And at least for the time being, I was really really proud. 

As time passed by, we witnessed the cogs and the sprockets of the democracy function. We all grew up witnessing all forms of coalition alliances and we were almost inevitably exposed to the poignant side of the legislature with hooligans making their way to the parliament and parliamentary processes always being in absolute tatters. We were lucky enough to have Prime Ministers whom we could present in front of the world, but the way the parliament was supposed to function, it never did because every single leader seemed to have vested interests. So we always sought hope in judiciary and press, and while press proved to be a kind of ombudsman in the 1970's when it annihilated the holier than thou regime of an authoritarian leader, it was no longer the crusader it once was. Major media houses had come to be owned by crony corporates and those who weren't had phony reporters like Arnab Goswami or had sold Nimral Baba advertisements running when they ran out of hired news. So surprisingly, the light came from judiciary. 

Even back in 1975, it was a landmark decision by the Allahbad high court which let the tumbrels rolling down on the tenebrous Indira Gandhi regime and suddenly democracy was back on its toes. There was a revolution going on before that, but it was very frail and sleazy. And this one single decision jolted everyone awake. Fast forward in and around 2010,once again it were the courts who were doing the talking. Apart from chiding even the PM on being a silent puppet in the pulpit on the coal block allocation scam, on which inquiry is still in progress, to the way the courts dealt with the 2G allocation and the Bellary mining scam. It suddenly seemed as if courts were the only one who still had some sense ensconced in regards to what they were supposed to do. And in all fairness to the morbidity that is present all around the country on subjugation, mainly by politicians, or someone related to the politicians, the courts have been doing a rather tremendous job. However of late, they seem to be losing out on the fillip. 

In a stark contrast from initial positions the courts took on three very different and completely unrelated cases, one simple thing , 'bail' seems to nullify and countermand all the hours of toil and tribulation that got behind sending the convicts behind bars. The first is the curious case of Salman Khan a.k.a Bhaijan, who is a big enough heartthrob to do something as execrable as running over a man and he still deserves to get away with it. Why? Because he's being human, of late! Keeping the altercation aside, and viewing it from a legal perspective, Salman Khan's was one of those classic tales of humongously delayed justice delivery. At least a thousand articles can be found online expatiating the irony present in the denouement. Just when it seemed the courts were closing in on delivering justice when they actually found Bhaijan guilty, the magic wand of 'bail' came from somewhere and one of India's and maybe even the world's most prolific lawyers set the judge's pen and gavel in action again and got Bhaijan out of jail in no time at all. Dammed be Sanju Baba who missed out in the auction process for getting the services of this legal counsel at his disposal. 


Second on the trot was Ramalinga Raju, who actually did a helluva job spending 35 months in prison when various others much more tainted than him(Like the aforementioned convict) couldn't fare more than 2 days. So in case of Raju, the lawyers contended that the actual sentence delivered on the indictment, which demanded Mr Raju and other felons in one of the largest corporate larcenies to spend another 4 years in prison and pay substantial fines running in crores, was a little too much for them to fulfill. They argued that the convicts have already spent a massive portion(still less than 50% actually) of their term and that they can't pay the fines as their accounts are seized. And once again, the magical word 'bail' was spoken by some consecrated mouth in a transcendental tone and the sentence was suspended! Poof! 


And finally comes the case of Jayalalita. Okay I might draw too much of fire for saying anything about the sanctimonious leader, whose supporters always pontificate when discussing the charges on her. So for the sake of health and some future without broken limbs, I won't say a word about her. But even in her case, despite there being enough follies in the case built up by her defense, she was not only exonerated, but she has already sworn in as the CM for a whopping 5th time. So congratulations to her and the supporters. 


So as I recollect all that has been happening in the legal circles for the last 3 odd weeks, I can only say that maybe judiciary, which till now seemed to be the harbinger of some solace and redemption in an otherwise crippling democracy, which continues to be glorified and dignified by everyone, has lost the battle with the more pestilent of forces. While it has always been the case that justice is more often than not delayed and on most of the occasions even denied in our country, at least for the big shots, justice was delivered and it instilled some hope that no one is larger than the law. But for some reason, the word 'bail' has a veritable significance and has connotations that mere minions like you and I are not privileged enough to know. So, the next time someone says you should be proud of being a part of the world's largest democracy, think if it actually means anything anymore.