DailyPost 1743

We may call it uniformity in law as well. We have seen our laws in operation for over seven decades now. The cardinal legal principles in operation remain equality before law, rule of law, due process of law, natural justice, beyond reasonable doubt, due diligence, in word and in spirit, and rightly so.  There have been no doubts raised regarding any of these principles being flouted on a large scale. Occasionally, one odd murmur is heard, generally those have been found to be of vested origin. It may thus be presumed that the operations of the law in this country have been as desired and the context being talked about here is the criminal justice system.

The uniformity of law as a complex concept does not exist or it might at the very best mean law being applied uniformly across the jurisdiction or in same manner across cases. If we delve a bit deep, we would find immense issues emanating due to lack of non-uniform understanding of the law, the precautions to be taken while the law is set into motion, the discretion or the lack of it, the progress of investigation, the validity of evidence collected, the authentication of the collated material, the prosecution story and it can go on and on. The trillion-dollar question is; is there a uniform understanding of law and expertise to handle all the elements of the criminal justice system? The bigger challenge is if it is there, is it there at all levels?

If at the theoretical level it is presumed that it is available at all levels, then is it available with the all the functionaries mandated to perform a legal task; all who register the case, all investigators, all prosecutors and all judicial officers. What would be the level of propriety we expect out of them and to what extent we are ready to enforce and make it happen. The first litmus test of law is here itself. Are we not facing the impact of non-uniformity of law as a tool and as an expertise by its practitioners? The cases which are not able to withstand even the slightest of judicial scrutiny, were  registered for what reason and investigated so. Can their whims and fancies be gleefully played around in judicial proceedings? Is there a lack of uniform understanding of law and as an extrapolation of the sanctity and utility of judicial time.

Who pays for the injustice, the time behind bars, the valuable part of life lost is life lost itself, the mental agony and innumerable other complications, it can decimate a human life. The social stigma or exclusion may be. When the charge-sheet is not a document of ultimate legal scrutiny and validity, then what fairness of law can come by it?  The results of cases have their own story. Who pays for all the deliberate wrongdoings and to whom? Does the quality of the prosecutors match the quality of defense and also the effort made for the purpose. Does the state lack the resources or the will?  With laws, procedures, judgements et al, all hard coded, there is a wide variance in judicial directives and pronouncements. It should have kept on coming down with the passage of time and system gaining more and more maturity. The manpower, effort, time and financial resources are all limited;  their optimum utilization with legal expertise, fairness and wisdom is the challenge.


Sanjay Sahay

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