Justicia For a just cause
When a group of lawyers gathered in Calicut on Dec-15- 2007, fresh hopes were kindled, rightly in legal circles. The new forum of lawyers named ‘Justicia’, inaugurated on the same day by the former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Mr. M. N Venkatachaliah was a watershed in an otherwise dark and desolate legal landscape, plagued by rampant corruption and stark discrepancies .To be sure, the judiciary is one of the three pillars of democracy. In other words, if a citizen cannot get justice from the court of law it is due as much to the failure of democracy as it is that of the judiciary.
Many of the rules pertaining to social life are still invariably inaccessible to common man. It is the obligation of any legal system not just to build a society of responsible citizens, but to envisage a life based on fairness and equity. Laws and legal system have played a not insignificant role in the progress of mankind. That is why it is said that the history of any people is incomplete without a study of the legal system prevalent at the time.
In Roman languages, the word ‘Justicia’ is used, with multiple layers of meaning, to denote law and equity. The old saying “justice would be done even if the heavens fell” is also borrowed from Latin. However quite often this dictum operates rather relatively. In our own Indian context, it should be realized that many of the rules existing in our country today are a legacy of the colonial past. And Justicia seeks to strive for a free fair and impartial judicial system.
Indian Penal Code is underpinned by the maxim ‘a thousand guilty may get away, but not one innocent shall be punished.’ Nevertheless, India has deteriorated into a nation with abysmal legal credentials where hundreds of thousands of people languish in jails as undertrials, and with over thirty million cases in the country. When one remembers the popular saying ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, the plight of these hapless people becomes all the more untenable.
Whenever any law becomes unsuitable for a society the government should step in to revise and renew it so as to restore and reaffirm people’s faith in the judiciary.
However, with the advent of globalization, throwing human life to severe miseries with inevitable constraints, our legal system looked on as a mute spectator. It is an enormity to deprive people, who were created free by God, of their rights and to enslave them. In the face of such glaring denial of basic human rights, indifference, Justicia thinks, is an unpardonable sin. Needless to say, in the changed circumstances, our judicial system is in dire need of an overhaul so as not to be out of sync with reality and current social life. Since courts do not exist in a vacuum, they have to recognize and adapt themselves to social reality. A legal system that has lost people’s faith cannot deliver justice. That would require courts and judges to be above suspicion. The ancient Roman representation of justice, it is common knowledge, standing blind-folded, holding a balance, symbolizes justice without fear or favour.
Justicia will try to stand with people fighting for justice and to wipe off the tears of the oppressed. The organization, in the present scenario of increasing human rights violations, will render free legal service to the downtrodden, needy and backward people. Our judicial system, what with its mind-boggling rigmarole of convoluted procedures and mounting fees, is virtually out of bounds for common people. Hence the need for a long-overdue recast of our judicial system. Speedy disposal of justice, guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution, has become a myth in our courts. Justice for the common man still remains too distant a dream.
‘Justicia’ also aims at bringing up a generation of lawyers committed to moral values. It will also ensure, by means of necessary collaboration with authorities concerned, that the nearly 25,000 lawyers serving in our courts get their due rights. Besides Justicia sees itself as duty-bound to combat corruption, dereliction of duty, wasteful expenditure, nepotism, communalism and other evils that afflict the legislative, executive and judicial systems in the country. The organization will also try to intervene in and solve disputes and cases pending in the courts and allied institutions. Adalats and counselling centres will be set up wherever necessary. Attempts will be made to find amicable solution for family disputes. Various programmes will be planned and executed through contact with and cooperation of the like-minded people. This forum will seek to create public awareness about the legal and constitutional rights of the people. It will operate with firm resolve to resist any attempts to frame inhuman and immoral laws.
Justice M.N Venkatachaliah, while delivering the inaugural address, pointed out that even the basic components of democracy hardly find a place in our country. Sorting the society into various races and castes is a dangerous thing. Since tolerance and secularism are the bases of democracy, the rights of the citizenry must be accorded top priority.
Indian Constitution envisages a society based on fairness and justice. Nevertheless 68 of the MPs have reached Parliament by a wafer-thin majority—by means of a handful of votes alone. How can such a Parliament represent the whole society? The political society in our country is hardly representative of the society at large vis-à-vis their counterparts in other countries. Instead of the public controlling the politicians the reality is often the other way round. Our chief concern must be the people’s security and progress, not more and more economic development .Real democracy is possible only when good citizens are created and their rights are not violated. Remarkably, it was a ground-breaking verdict of the US apex court that put an end to the blacks being deprived of opportunities in the Government sectors. This should be an eye-opener for us, he added.
When laws are violated and justice denied, every living person should react and respond to the situation, Justice K Sukumaran, speaking on the occasion, said. A good society is the offshoot of the revolution taking place by the means of lawful activities. In this crucial hour of the disintegration of society on racial and religious lines, Justice V.R Krishna Iyer maintained, one should always go in for activities that lead to the unity and integrity of the country. Citing the chief objectives of the Justicia, T. Arifali, Ameer of Jama’at-e-Islami Kerala Chapter, listed incorporating values into the public sphere and fighting for the deprived sections of the people as the most significant one. While imperialism is today seeking to tighten its grip on the judicial system, attempts must be made to make the legal system fool-proof to the extent possible, he added .The appointment of judges, he maintained, should be made more transparent.
Adv. Ahamed kutty Puthalath, President of Justicia, presided over the function; Dr. Shakeel Ahamed, among others, spoke. Vice-president Adv. M.P Mohammed Aslam welcomed the gathering and Adv. K. L. Abdussalam proposed a vote of thanks.
In a symposium that followed the event Mr. O. Abdurahman, Editor, Madhyamam delivered the presidential address; the celebrated human rights activist Nandita Haksar delivered the inaugural speech. Among those present on the occasion were senior Advocate of the Kerala High Court K. Ram Kumar, Army Raju (who spent 9 years of imprisonment in Coimbatore jail along with Abdunnasir Ma’dani), P. M.A Salam MLA, K. Ajitha and Adv Manjeri Sunder Raj. The Secretary of Justicia C. Ubaidulla proposed a vote of thanks. The programmes were led by T. K. Husain, Adv A. Husain and Adv. Sajeer.