Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Significance of Legal Efficiency

An independent judiciary, the due process of Law, and the right to speedy trials and speedy resolution of disputes, are essential for social equality.

Why so?

In societies without an independent efficient legal machinery, oppression continues without redress.  In such societies, injustices are frequently usually met with silent resignation.  People oppress each other if they can.  It is implicitly established who can be oppressed and who cannot.  Those who are well-connected, have state sympathy, are wealthy, or have muscle power, can oppress others with impunity.

To gain favors from the powerful, one has to usually sell one's dignity.  In the film Ardh Satya (Govind Nihalani, 1983), the protagonist finds it incapable of humiliating himself in order to win his life back.  His life disintegrates soon after.

To have to sell one's dignity is what inequality amounts to, sooner or later.

I don't think the situation has changed significantly in the last thirty years.  India, even today, is a land where the expectation of justice is almost non-existent.

In the absence of an accessible and efficient legal system, one is forced to maintain a servile posture towards those in power.  Just observe the faces of common people when they meet a powerful bureaucrat or a mighty politician.  Their expressions and body language is that of "we the meek, blessed to be in thy shade."

Without the power to fight oppression, there is no equality.  In modern societies, that power is vested in judiciary and the police.  Without access to judiciary and the police, Indian citizens continue to live in a highly oppressed society.

When two powerful adversaries fight each other in India, they rarely do so in the courts.  It is tantrums like hunger strikes, bandhs, roadblocks, dharnas, or public spectacles like "effigy-burning" and the like which are more commonly seen.

Everybody agrees that justice-delivery doesn't work in India. As long as this state of affairs continues,  there will never be any kind of equality or empowerment in India.

Yes, one can go to a powerful person and plead in good humor, but that is the very definition of inequality.

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