Friday, September 05, 2008

Are we being just to Sanjeev Nanda?

Justice delayed is justice denied. So the adage goes; the party denied presumably the aggrieved party. But what about the criminal? Esp. in a case of culpable homicide.

Sanjeev Nanda is the same age as me. Nine years ago, when he was driving the BMW, I was riding my first bike - a second hand Yamaha RX100. My only mishap that year happenned when I raced into a U-turning rickshaw, that suddenly decided that the way opposite was the way for him, somewhere in the city:but that was entirely to my disadvantage.

I remember reading about that night in the next morning's paper. Sabby was still my room-mate, Itawa and chirag were in the room opposite, Chiklu lived across our hostel, and I was in correspondence with Prachi. Ages ago.

There was a curious feeling of vindication at the overdue desserts of a coeval who was born with the world in his locker and the privilige of a life of no struggles -fast cars, babes, good looks - and flaunting it. That his family allegedly watered the festering, bulbuous corruption in defence deals and undermined the nation's security, of course, added to the thrill.

Over the years, the Nandas, allegedly, bought witnesses and ran the judiciary system, groaning under the rotting weight of its colonial convolutions, as smoothly and confidentally as a Formula1 driver. Now, it seems, like the host of celebrated and long-drawn cases recently, their luck has finally run out.

But what is the basis of the justice system?

1. punishment?

2. reformation?

3. containment?

Punishment, if not coupled with the objective of reformation, is not the concern of the state or any rational institution. The criminal might be asked to financially compensate the aggrieved party for the damage done. But incarceration/death for the sake of only feeding the desire of revenge, is neither rational nor the hallmark of any civilized state.

Hence, the objectives narrow down to reformation or containment.

Containment applies to criminals that might repeat their actions and, hence, be a threat to the security of the public. The act might either come with intent or, as in the case of culpable homicide, negligence. The objective is to contain the person till, in the first case, the criminal changes his intent or, in the other, he becomes more careful; both till a level that he is no longer a threat.

My argument is based on this understanding of modern-day justice systems.

Now, forget the mockery that the Nandas might have made of the legal system and the weeping widows; just like you might have conveniently forgotten that if the Nandas did play the system for their son, so, in all probability, would have you. (The only constraint would have been the power you wield and the bank balance you own.)

Try and think rationally (a tough request in these days of strident media-led kangaroo courts). Try to be a part of the panch parmeshwar.

Who are we trying to reform here? A 30 year old for something he did when he was 21? For what purpose? If I had killed that rickshaw driver that day nine years ago, would now be time to try and reform me?

The answer is clear - REVENGE; for thinking that they can play with the lives of the poor; for eating off the fat of the land; for this, that and everything.

They might be corrupt, arrogant, smug; in short, evil!

But is this the royal darbaar of Akbar the merciful or a modern legal institution?

Is this justice?

There is only one criminal here - the people who have made legal system thus. Of the murder of justice - eitherways - with intent. Purposeful negligence.


aparna said...

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pankajunk said...

i read the wiki entry on punishment after reading your post - Obviously the vindictive element of punishment remains even to this day. Obama in upholding the capital punishment in extreme circumstances called it the "collective will of the people". One can speculate that this vindictive element is somehow exaggerated in the case of the affluent. You missed one of the ends of punishment, which is deterrence.

Bland Spice said...


thanks for puttingthat wordin. i was disconnected for some time but i really mulled over the word "deterrence" and I agree there is an argument there.

Here, we might say, we are deterring similar rich families from abusing the system.

My only caveat is that the will to deter has to be matched with consistency. Otherwise, it is unjust targeting.