Tuesday, April 24, 2007

LAW IS A ASS?

The defendant, in Breunig v. American Family Insurance Co., 45 Wisc. 2d 536, 173 N.W.2d 619 (1979), testified that the reason why she struck the plaintiff's truck with her automobile was simply because she knew that God was driving her car, and more importantly, she knew that if she accelerated into the truck, she would be able to fly because Batman is able to fly.

This woman was obviously psychotic. I mean come on, everyone knows Batman can't fly!

Before you wonder as to where I am heading; ponder on the judicial proceedings in this country. I am beginning to feel despondent. You can be driven to becoming "psychotic" particularly if you are a victim.

Take for example the recent hit and run case involving a certain Allister Pereira, you can also follow this link: www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070009486 and read the cold facts of an earlier hit and run case that was loaded with miscarriage of justice.

"In law, the accused has a million ways to escape. But the victim is consigned to the gallows"

"There is a place in our courts for the judge, the accused, the lawyers and witnesses. But there is no seat for the victim though his/her plight remains central to the case."

—Former solicitor general K.T.S. Tulsi

Our legal system favours the accused and not the victim. To enumerate:

  • The victim and his/her family are not involved in court proceedings, except when summoned as witnesses. (It should be pointed out that this has been the system prevalent in other countries too, but there it is for the victim’s protection.)
  • The victim is represented by the public prosecutor engaged by the state. The accused can hire lawyers of his/her choice. (Elsewhere public prosecutor’s post is a coveted one and he/she is held accountable. In India there is no accountability of a public prosecutor. He/she gets time-bound promotions not linked to performance)
  • The victim or his family cannot file an appeal against an unfair verdict. That is the state’s prerogative. The victim’s side can only file a revision petition on grounds of procedural oversight. (This is why the media and the public joined hands in the recent review of the Jessica Lal & Priyadarshini Mattoo cases.)
  • Rights of the accused, including right to silence, is detailed in law. It is, however, silent about the victim’s rights.
  • The accused has the right to know the evidence framed by the prosecution. The victim has no access to information from the defence side.
  • If the accused is influential, he/she can tamper with evidence, compromise investigators, even judges. (It is now a known fact that judges in India are corrupt. There is no procedure under law to censure the judge, though his judgement can be questioned in an appeal, and subsequently censured)
A sitting high court judge has put it rather bluntly: "More than just being helpful to the accused, the system really works for the rich accused." Add to this a less than transparent police, and you have a situation where the guilty in what are apparently open-and-shut cases walk away scot-free.

The criminal system in India is in shambles. Accused are walking free, there is poor collection of evidence and there are innumerable instances of miscarriage of justice – all examples of a deep-rooted malaise in our criminal system. Recent studies show that the conviction rate in Indian courts is one per cent. The accused manage to get away in 99 percent cases.

Does make me wonder – Law is a Ass? … Or perhaps is itself a victim?

Friday, April 13, 2007

HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN AMONG YOU, LET HIM THROW THE FIRST STONE

N R Narayana Murthy sparked off a protest for allegedly disrespecting the national anthem; Sachin Tendulkar cutting a tricolour cake has set off another outcry. Is the outrage justified or are we simply protesting too much?
I present below some of the reactions that I found in the newspapers:

“I think we certainly do make a hue and cry about certain issues because we’re overly sensitive about them. And that’s because our priorities are misplaced. We don’t give a damn about global warming, but we make a big noise about something like Sachin Tendulkar cutting a tricolour cake. We’re only bothered about things that are displayed and in our opinion, must be revered. We don’t look at the bigger picture.” MAHESH DATTANI, Theatreperson

“I don’t think we Indians are sensitive at all; it’s the media that makes them out to be that way. In a nation with a hundred crore population, when just a hundred of them protest about an inconsequential matter, why does the media have to make it such a big deal? Are all these silly issues of national consequence? By reporting such petty issues, the media is blowing the issue out of proportion and drawing more attention to them than necessary. There are hundreds of protests being staged around the nation and not all of them do it out of concern. It’s more for mileage than addressing the issue.” GIRISH KASARAVALLI, Filmmaker

“I think as a people we are getting a bit too touchy and intolerant for the wrong reasons. Both Narayana Murthy and Sachin Tendulkar have done exceptionally well representing the country and there’s no need for them to prove anything to anyone. Casting aspersions on a well-known person and raising protests is the easiest way for people to get their three seconds of fame and that’s why most do it. Having said that, I must add that there seems to be some underlying anger in people that they flare up at the smallest of issues.”CHAITANYA HEGDE, Mediaperson

What is my take on this subject?

In the case of N. R. Narayana Murthy, I am of the opinion that he chose a wrong word. He speakes the English language fluently and I am surprised that he used a word like "embarrassment". He should have said that it is "difficult" for them to sing it, perhaps then there would have been no controversy. It is also a fact that a successful person has a fair share of jealous detractors. Mr. Murthy, from what he has accomplished, and by the manner in which he has accomplished it will certainly have more than a fair share. I have a feeling that were we to really delve into it, we might unearth a somewhat different reason for the rather rabid attack on him.

Sachin is a falling hero; and so anything to hasten his fall would be lapped up by the media and then the public. Perhaps if he had cut the same cake after having scored a string of centuries, the scribes would not have bothered about the colour of the cake. His cutting a tri-colour cake would have been put down to an aberration. By the way, no mention is made of the plight of the Indian High Commissioner in whose official residence the cake was cut.

And what about the Karntaka Politicians who wanted Mr. Murthy jailed?

They are greatly disturbed by the "insult" rendered to the National Anthem by Mr. Murthy, but are unfazed by the long queues for water, by the sight of little children helping their mothers collect muddy water from little streams - water not fit to wash your hands in let alone drink, by the severe shortage of electricity, by the disappearing forests in the ghats and by a thousand other problems for which they are paid a salary out of our taxes to solve or at least alleviate.

A story in the Bible runs thus:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken
in adultery. Having set her in the midst, they told Jesus,
"Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now
in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?" They said this testing him, that they might have
something to accuse him of.

But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to
them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.

They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience,
went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle.
Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?"

She said, "No one, Lord."

Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more."

Can there be greater patriots than Mr. Narayana Murthy & Mr. Sachin Tendulkar? Few men can do much more for India than they have done. Can they be judged by whether or not one sings the National Anthem or the other cuts a tri-colour cake?

And can there be a greater traitor than a corrupt khadi wearing politican signing the National Anthem with gusto?

Friday, April 06, 2007

WASSUP?

Cricket

The best comment that I heard on the Indian Cricket Saga:
“Aren’t we trying to make a scapegoat out of Chappell for our non-performing players? If it was any other nation than India then these non-performing players would have been kicked out a long back. In a cricket crazy nation of billion people can we not find another team of performing players?”
I’m not a cricket crazy fan. But having watched the huffing and puffing of our Non Performing ‘Assets’, I have to conclude that these guys, the BCCI included, do not possess any strategy – save the strategy of making money. When I started putting my heart and soul into teaching 17 years ago, a person was beginning to give his heart and soul for Indian cricket. Mind you both of us weren’t doing it for free. I raked in the moolah just as the other person did; albeit he in crores, I a few lakhs. Aspersions have been cast on his commitment and his continuance. I haven’t had that misfortune. I have matured gracefully, and god willing, have many years to go before I decide to retire. Sachin is on his way out. His shelf life is up! The problem is that, he hasn’t realised it. Hence his ravings and rantings to an eager press; while his ‘bete-noir’ – the coach, maintains a dignified silence (Leaks to the press do not qualify for comments!) Wassup?

Inflation

The government is baffled at the way the inflation has been creeping upwards. So drastic measures have been lined up. The CRR rate, a useful weapon in beleaguered times, has been used to suck money from the market. The latest hike sucked in a whopping Rs. 15,500 crores from the market. The spectators called foul and went and bashed up the sensex. There was a ‘Monday Massacre’. Wealth evaporated. A 1% cess has been levied on home loans; so as to discourage people from borrowing and investing in land. The price of land has been sizzling. Look at a II tier city like Mangalore. Good apartments are being sold at Rs.1,850 per square feet, whereas 18 months ago, the rate was just Rs. 1,200 per square feet.
With land prices zooming, farmers have decided to convert their agricultural lands into commercial properties and are selling them at astronomical prices. The new owners are filling these marshy lands thereby destroying the ecology. Hillocks are being flattened and the mud is used to fill fields and ponds. These fields and ponds were crucial for raising ground water levels. Today, they are gone and the ground water table recedes further. Wassup?

A natural swamp being filled up.

The disappearing greenery

Mangalore Warming

Huge climate changes are taking place in Mangalore. Temperatures are up by at least 2 degrees and the humidity is up by 10%. People sweat it out as the Mangalore Electricity Supply Company, MESCOM for short, messes your day with unscheduled power cuts. Water is in short supply. People crane their necks skywards searching for rain bearing clouds. The Nethravathi River which supplies water to Mangalore city is all but dry. The water level in its vented dam may last until May 10th. After that…..?

The Nethravathi River

Don’t you see a pattern? Don’t you see the lack of planning? Be it cricket, inflation or climate changes, we aren’t planning. We seem to be blinded by money and greed for more money.