Monday, July 7, 2014

Saving the law from kangaroo courts

The Supreme Court's ruling on Islamic (sharia) courts is a move in the right direction.  Religious courts have no legal binding in India though a lot of such courts became very active recently, of particular concern being the khap panchayats that sealed the fate of many people in some of the North Indian states.  Among the many bizarre judgements delivered by the kangaroo courts is one in which a young woman was 'legally' raped by almost a whole village in West Bengal merely because the man she chose to marry belonged to a different religion.   

When the Constitution of India allowed every citizen to follow his/her religion and its practices, it was not handing over the law on a platter to the priests.  Religions cannot be parallel judiciaries. They can guide and help believers to lead good lives.  In that process of guidance and counselling, if both the aggrieved parties arrive at a consensus the judiciary of the country won't generally interfere unless there are criminal offences involved.  For example, mutually agreed divorces are accepted.

But the simple fact is that the decisions taken by religious courts are really not binding legally.  Any of the aggrieved party can go to the country's proper judicial system to seek justice even after the religious court has passed its verdict.  

The Supreme Court's ruling today means, in simple words, that religion cannot be an alternative judiciary in the country. Whichever religion, it may be. 

The ideal situation would be to have a Uniform Civil Code for the entire country.  The religions should not be allowed to pronounce any legal verdict at all.  India has no state religion.  The Indian Constitution leaves certain personal laws in the domain of each religious community because the country respects the varied customs and traditions, rites and rituals of different communities. However, the tendency recently has been to misuse the provision in the Constitution because semi-literate or purely illiterate village  elders and religious leaders take the law in their hands.  This tendency should be nipped without any mercy.  The law left in the hands of such people will not have even a semblance of justice.  Such people are motivated purely by vested interests.  And it is the duty of the country to save the simple people of the rural backyards from the octopus of religions as well as other kangaroo courts. 

17 comments:

  1. Kangaroo Courts are prevailing everywhere in India.... :-( they have their own rules and laws and no political party ever dares to confront them ..for that will make the vote-bank heading southwards...

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    1. Vote bank politics is one of the worst evils in the country today.

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  2. Really sir, this is a very big problem. We have seen the rise and fall of various religious power over the ages. And by this I mean even the power of the Pope in the middle ages. If this continues, anarchy is not far away.

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    1. Anarchy is the best thing if all human beings were enlightened. But since that is an impossible ideal, the next best is to delink religion from politics. Even the Pope had his powers (which eventually declined, as you say) because of the nexus between religion and politics. Sever the spiritual and the secular - that's the only option we have now.

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  3. Yes, the Supreme Court's ruling against kangaroo courts is surely a good news but the question still remains. When will people stop using religion as a means to their ends and when will they stop using bigotry and religion in the name of holiness. People must first change their mindsets, it is disgusting to see such incidents occur, victims of which are mostly women.

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    1. Education and awareness are the most effective tools, Anu. Kangaroo courts are not seen in states with significant population of educated people.

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  4. Agree with everything you mentioned. Hope people all through the country get aware and educated about it..

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    1. Poverty is the hindrance, Roohi. RTI is not working since our govt schools are not effective. The govt of each state must ensure that govt schools provide quality, free education to the poor children. Only education can change the present scenario in this regard.

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  5. Everyday there are fresh news on judgment by kangaroo courts flashes in newspapers and channels along with story of harassment and torture following it.... A real shame of our society.......


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    1. Thanks. Now that the school has reopened I hardly get time to write. I actually steal time from my sleep in order to keep blogging. So let me wait to accept your invitation :)

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  6. Very true...it's really a sad state when it comes to status of women's freedom.

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    1. Pankti, have you ever wondered why most religions are eager to create or maintain laws that go against the interests of women?

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    2. Yup...because men wants to dominate women. They want power and their women under their thumb. So men are helping each other achieve this goal. And stupid women, who are brainwashed by these men, help them too.

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  7. You are right. There must be a uniform judiciary in our country and religion and its self proclaimed guardians should do what they are actually meant to do. Providing justice isn't their responsibility.

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    1. Yes, Namrata, it actually means separating religion and politics altogether. I think we should ban all religion-based political parties to start with.

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