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Celebrating lawlessness

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Vikas Dubey was shot dead while trying to flee the police custody on the way to Kanpur for his custodial interrogation. After hearing the news of his death, there seems to be widespread rejoicing among common people claiming that justice has been served. While the people have the reason to feel so, because Vikas Dubey was one of the most hated and a cruel hardcore criminals, but still can death in an encounter be called the real justice even for a criminal like him? What has made a civilized and a tolerant society like ours to erupt in joy, even though there might be a small chance for it being extra-judicial?

Vikas Dubey had more than 50 cases lodged against him in courts around Kanpur and other places. These are not petty cases, they are cases with very serious charges ranging from intimidation, land grabbing, assault, dacoity, robbery, attempt to murder and actual murders. Anything and everything that can be associated with a hardened criminal, he was involved in those. He is alleged to have killed a person inside the police station in front of 25 people in broad daylight and yet he was roaming freely outside on bail. He is purported to have had several high caliber weapons and guns and when the approval files of the same are sought, they seem to be missing from the relevant departments. Who is responsible for licensing him to amass such huge fire power at his disposal?

Everyone knows that he has committed all these heinous crimes and yet has not been convicted so far in any of the cases. He was enjoying committing more crimes day-in and day-out with such impunity that we commoners shudder to even think about. The killing of 8 police officers just a few days back was another of his continued belligerence and nonchalance in defiance of law and humanity at large. While we all might have questions on the death of Vikas Dubey in an encounter but no body can grudge the common man for delighting at seeing him dead in whatever manner because they feel that the karma has served him right. But this very innocuous exhilaration of people is an indicator of a trend to ponder about and also its implications on our society and democracy at large.

So what is that which makes for such outright aberrations in our public law and order systems, and hence the travesty of our judicial system?

The answer is that Vikas Dubey was a criminal with abundant patronage from different political parties. His crimes were overlooked as long as it benefited one party or other in their lust to garner power. He had very close links to the police personnel even at high levels otherwise the information he was recipient of could not have been possible to source. Our judiciary proved every bit incompetent, if not outright corrupt in asking the right questions of the investigating officers.

How do 25 eye witnesses after having deposed against him, turn hostile and clear way for the criminal to get bail? Why did the learned judge not ask the question of investigating authorities as to how they were sure that witnesses had not turned hostile because of threats or allurements? Why did not the most revered justice ask the investigating authorities if not him, then who committed the murder because the murder was real? Why did the police force side with the criminal when they were witness to the crime as it happened inside a police station? How did he and his family get tickets or a platform to contest elections under party symbols, when they were clearly aware of his criminal record?

You see there are many questions and trust me I am not the first to be asking these, yet there are no answers forthcoming.

There is failure at every stage in the life cycle of crime and criminal system. It starts with a criminal committing crimes and getting noticed as one. Then the political parties use these criminals for their nefarious activities for dominance both monetarily from crime proceeds as well as muscle flexing to subdue others. Then It moves to recruiting and nominating them into the political parties. Further, sadly but true, people vote for them to put them into power either because of allurements or intimidation. Police for their greed and other reasons, side with them for petty or even big benefits. Even though purportedly independent, the criminal investigation system turns a blind eye to their crimes, since police is subservient to the political masters.

It is therefore not very difficult to understand, how then are these investigations compromised. But the final arbiter of law in our country is our judicial system, they are meant to interpret laws and give justice so that it can be administered irrespective of class, creed, gender or religiosity. It is supposed to be an independent institution so that there is no political interference, what-so-ever. They have powers to take up cases even suo moto, which they do many times only for judicial activism that supports their ideology. So even if the other systems have failed for whatever reason, the judicial system should be very robust because that is the final resort for the common man for hope of any justice.

Seeing the number of cases that are lingering in lower courts, high courts and supreme court of India, one will immediately know that the wheels of our justice grind excruciatingly slow. There are cases pending for over 35 years, what sense of justice is there in a case that is pending for so long? Sometimes the original complainant is no more and the cases are followed up by his/her progeny when it is no more relevant. In a very recent case of an ex-cabinet minister getting bail over 20 times shows, what is actually wrong with our judicial system.

When the justice moves so slowly, we can only attribute it to the willful complacency of the judiciary if not being outright corrupt. It is rightly said that, “justice delayed is justice denied”. By the time a criminal is convicted he has become a corporator, then MLA, then a minister and even chief minister sometimes, and in the bargain he has created a whole ecosystem of complicit police, complicit bureaucracy and even complicit judicial system. He even runs his empire from within the confines of the prison with the help of pliant system. And the cycle goes on and on.

Therefore, it is not very difficult to understand the frustration of common people when they see no justice for crimes whenever high and mighty are involved. Similarly it can be very exasperating when one sees a case which is seemingly open and shut, to either linger for years or being simply closed by citing lack of evidence. And eventually when they see someone meted justice like this by being shot in an encounter, they feel a sense of elation. This does not mean that our people are sadistic or vicious in any way, but it only serves as a vent to their pent up frustration that Karma will eventually catch up and the criminal will be served justice, however crudely.

People see what a mother of a rape victim has had to go through to get justice for her daughter even after conviction by various courts. When It takes more than seven years for a rape convicted to be finally punished after all the harrowing experience, you will see the anger palpable in the people. It is then like in a recent case of rape accused in Hyderabad, wherein all are shot dead in an encounter, the police are showered with flowers even before the actual wheels of justice had started to move. So celebrating this kind of lawlessness is a trend that while seeming totally justified for all the reasons stated, may yet not be the real justice at all.

A democracy is dysfunctional if it is not participative, hence people will have to ensure that they elect the right people to government. And during the tenure, people have to hold their elected representatives responsible for proper functioning of the law and order system, their bureaucracy for right policies and finally their governments for delivering the promises made to the people. At least in the case of polity, there is a 5 year cycle wherein they can be booted out if found wanting in their conduct and the promises they made to the people.

Similarly there should be a public outcry when judiciary is found in dereliction of their duties for whatever reason. We have been hearing a lot about police and judicial reforms for decades but these seem to be still gathering dust in the respective departments. There is absolutely no accountability on our judiciary and judicial system.

Today the way cases are proceeding in our courts and the way our judiciary functions, we will continue to see, trigger happy criminals and trigger happy police, and mind you that is very dangerous for our society and our democracy at large. In both the cases, the innocent common man is the victim. So it is clarion call for our judiciary to wake up, reform and perform.

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