Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life Term for Social Activist Vinayak Sen

The voices against the life term awarded to a human rights activist, Vinayak Sen, by a Chhattisgarh court are multiplying by the day. It is a reflection on the weakening of the judiciary, as the tradition of not speaking one's mind on a decision and ruling of the court is weakening it. Intellectuals as well as the common man have begun to feel that if a ruling does not come up to the basic needs of justice and fails to pass the criteria of fairness, one should raise one's voice against such a ruling and decision.

Allegation Against Sen
Vinayak Sen was arrested on the allegation of sedition and waging war against the state in 2007. He has been active in the Naxal infested areas in Chhattisgarh. While arresting him, the police alleged that he has been patronizing, harboring and helping Maoists. He was further accused of acting as an intermediary between a Maoist leader and a businessman.
A Chhattisgarh court awarded him life imprisonment for helping Maoists and waging a war against the state. Ever since he was awarded the punishment, criticism continues at both the national and international levels against it. After criticism by important persons in the United States and the Amnesty International, a human rights organization, voices began to be stronger against the decision of the court.

The statement made by former chief justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Rajinder Sachar, assumes greater significance in this regard. He maintains that there can be no other such decision that lacks total sagacity. I feel ashamed, after the pronouncement of the ridiculous verdict, that I have been associated with the judiciary? In addition to justice Sachar, others, including Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Ashok Mitra, and Mushirul Hasan, have demanded Sen's release. A leading social worker, Swami Agnivesh, has gone on a dharna (sit-in protest) at the Jantar Mantar, against the pronouncement of the court verdict against Vinayak Sen.

Criticism Against Ruling
All these reactions go to prove that the tendency of testing a court verdict by the people is on the rise. Justice Sachar has specifically reacted to it sharply. The criticism that he has made against the ruling of a Chhattisgarh court amounts to a sarcastic comment on unjudicial and nonsagacious mentality, a mentality that remains confined to the surface and lacks understanding of the true spirit of law to reach a decision. It also reflects lack of spirit of providing true justice to an accused. Understanding the true spirit of law, while hearing and considering such cases is imperative. The objective of the judiciary is not just to respect laws and regulations, but to provide justice in the true sense.

As far as the case of Vinayak Sen is concerned, the allegations against him, firstly, are very weak and should one take all these allegations for granted that Vinayak had indeed worked as an intermediary between Maoists and a business man and that he did carry the message of the Naxalite ideologue, Narayan Sanyal to fellow Maoists, the crime is not such a serious one that he should be awarded life imprisonment by the court.

Faith in Judiciary
In a country where those responsible for the gas leak in Bhopal, which killed thousands of people, get the term of imprisonment for only two years each, that too after prolonged hearing spanning over twenty five years, how it is justified that a person accused of carrying a message to Maoists be awarded such a stringent punishment to languish behind the bars for his entire life?Such a verdict, naturally, raises eyebrows against the judiciary. That is why Justice Sachar is feeling ashamed for his association with such a judiciary. His remarks are not mere activism or a strong reaction. Instead, it is the expression of the pain that a person who loves justice, feels.
It is an expression of sympathy for those who fell victim to the strong handedness of law, and is a reminder to those at the helm of the affairs, to think and act wisely. It calls upon those in power to strive seriously to bring about a change in such a scenario before the people lose faith in the judiciary.

No comments: