JUSTICE DELAYED IS INJUSTICE

On the night of 2nd December 1984, many lives changed, destinies were re-written or rather written off. People sleeping peacefully were woken up by a sudden cough which refused to stop. Some felt burning eyes due to which they weren’t able to see anything. They started to rush out of their homes into the white cloud of smoke that had engulfed them. “Run for your lives”were all the words that could be heard. Other sounds were of coughing people, wailing babies, people who were vomiting and some who were crying until they fell down unconsciously. They were running to move out of the white cloud that was not refusing to follow them. Many pregnant women had instant miscarriages. On a cold night, everything gave a burning sensation. Everyone was trying to reach the nearest hospital. Trees were shedding leaves as if it were a wildfire. But, it was worse than that. 

I am talking about the world’s worst industrial disaster- the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The disaster that took the lives of thousands of people, permanently disabling lakhs and pervaded the birth defects in the generations to come. 

The leak of highly toxic Methyl Isocyanate from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal. The reason of the leak is still not clear. However, the reports suggest that it was due to lack of maintenance and a floppy management. Several cases were filed against Union Carbide Corporation  or UCC and Warren Anderson, who was the then CEO. The cases kept on shuffling between the Indian courts and the US courts for 26 long years- from 1986 to 2012. Anderson was refused to be extradited by the US government as they stated that he had no role as the plant was owned and operated by its employees. However, in 2010, eight of the plant’s employees were charged with negligence and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, with a fine of $2000 each. For all the deaths and the aftermath of the disaster, all they could get was just a moderate fine and 2 years in jail, which they never got as 7 of them were soon out of the prison on bail, shortly after the verdict was out. The 8th convicted employee already had died before the judgement was passed. 

From 1984 to 2010, justice after 26 years! Is that justified? 

And such a meagre punishment to those who played with the lives of many! Is that justified?

Bhopal Gas Tragedy is just one example of the justice that was delayed for more than 2 decades. The punishment given to the convicts was the maximum punishment given by the Indian Law. Change is the law of nature and so the changes should be made to the rules and laws that were made decades ago. It’s high time the cases are heard quickly so that the justice isn’t delayed. But, above all that, we, as humans need to value our ethics and moral principles.

An ethical life is built of integrity, honesty, kindness, decency and belief in truth, justice, honour, love, respect, compassion, and working together to make life better.

(Inspirational quotes)

WE HAVE ENDLESS LAWS, BUT, IS THERE ENOUGH JUSTICE?

India got independence on the midnight of the 15th of August 1947, when the last ship carrying British soldiers left for England. It became a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The constitution of India came into force on the 26th of January, 1950. A week from today, it would be 71 years the laws came into effect, yet, justice being served is sparsely seen.

Swarna, I met her the first time at the session court cafeteria. Her court papers flew for the wind, and I helped her segregate them. Along with her was her 15-year-old son. Unknowingly, my eyes noticed the start date of her case, and it was way back in 2003, a divorce petition. I couldn’t resist asking her if her case was pending for 15 years, for which she nodded with a “yes.” That must be the time her son was born, and it would have been very tough on her. Later, she told me that her husband left her when she was pregnant with her son, three years after their marriage. The only reason was that he didn’t want to live with her anymore. Swarna hasn’t had any support from her parents regarding this and finally had to go through the birthing process on her own self. I can hardly imagine what would have been her thoughts like. She must be a fierce soul to have lived and fought through this for 17 years now and still awaiting justice.

I wonder what the justice system wants to do? Is the purpose to serve justice, but how?

A young girl in her 20’s left alone by her husband has been waiting for justice for 17 years. She lived all those 17 years without support, a leaning shoulder, a person to rely on and share her sorrows with – a companion to be precise. Mentally, this can put anyone under tremendous stress. I dare to ask if the divorce was granted; maybe, she would have found someone who could have taken care of her and, the kid would have had a father. She wouldn’t have had to bear the insults she has endured. It is more respectful to state that one is divorced than separated. Is it the expectation of the honorable court that after 17 years of separation, the couple will lead a happy married life, if the divorce is not granted? It sounds too absurd.

A child (Swarna’s son), who had no mistake in this is suffering because of? One might say his father, but I would say the justice system has its part too. He has to undergo the trauma of doing the rounds of the court, along with his mother, gets to see his father at times who has no interest in accepting him. Apart from this in the mediocre society, he is a fatherless child and is bullied. A teenager who should be looking forward to his future is now very uncertain. Imagine filling up those educational applications where it says father’s name. It would have hurt him to the core. Does the child not have the right to a more secure future? 

This is only one example, don’t be surprised to know that some people spend all the hard-earned money of their lifetime in anticipation of justice for decades and decades, and some leave this world before the verdict is released. Kudos to those who are staying put and have not given up. But, this brings us to a fundamental question. If justice is delayed this much, would people have faith in the justice system? If they lose such trust, the obvious is that they would take justice into their hands, which would lead to horrible consequences. Unfortunately, the loopholes in our justice system are already a significant reason why many resort to hideous crimes. The credibility of our Judiciary system is at stake. The two main reasons I feel are one, the ratio of people to judges, second, our inadequate laws.

The society is changing rapidly adapting to various reforms in many fields. Our laws cannot stay behind with respect to these fields. In fact, it is important that laws also evolve along with the advancements and changes in society. The fundamental right to life and liberty cannot be put to risk. We need justice and that justice should be served on time with a purpose to make someone’s life better and for a better society.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
― Benjamin Franklin

SIN – A MESSY STATE OF MAN

Five-year old Blessy came back from school scared that day. The Dictation answer sheets had been distributed in class and she had committed two mistakes, thus losing two marks. She thought she had written all correct spellings and hoped to score full marks. Now what awaited her was a nice piece of her mother’s mind. She debated within herself whether to show the answer sheet to her mother or hide it. Finally she decided to show it. After all, her mother was going to find it sooner or later! With shaky hands and lowered eyes, she extended the answer sheet to her mother after dinner – all the time thinking what excuse she could give. Her wise mother brought out the text book from the school bag, turned to the chapter, showed Blessy the correct spellings and explained that anything other than those mentioned spellings, are wrong.

Mistake

Wrong

Error

We use these words interchangeably in our everyday lives to indicate any deviation from the norm. Anything that is not correct, is considered incorrect. Anything that is not right, is considered wrong. To declare whether something is incorrect or wrong or erroneous, we need to have the knowledge of what is correct or right or the norm. Absence of standards renders mistakes/errors/wrongs into irrelevance – just as without traffic rules, adherence to / violation of traffic rules is insignificant.

AN UNCHANGEABLE STANDARD

Violation of absolute moral laws put in place by the Creator is called sin. All moral law begins with God. We cannot speak of sin without mentioning God. It is because of the presence of a self-existing and pre-existing God, that there are absolute moral laws in place for the whole of mankind even before civilizations emerged. Culture defines civilizations. Education and development refine human functioning. Awareness empowers the human mind. The Constitution of a country establishes the law of the land. All such standards are very essential for the civilized functioning and growth of the human race. However, they are subject to modifications and amendments according to the changing times. To give an example – today we have Cyber Crime cells in place, in the law and order systems of most countries; decades before, they were non-existent. God’s moral laws, however, are uniformly meant for the entire mankind for all times to come irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, sex, race, caste, language, socio-economic status or occupation. That is why God’s laws are absolute! His standards are unchangeable even in the changing times. This is because, God Himself doesn’t change.

In the Bible, God declares, “For I am the Lord, I change not.”  

Hence, violation of God’s standards, is sin.

ALL SIN IS SIN AGAINST GOD

We cannot substitute words like ‘mistake’, ‘error’, ‘wrong’, for sin. These substitute terms hold good for violation of human standards. But, not to refer to the violation of the absolute moral standards of God. Hence, mere euphemisms do not reduce the gravity of violating God’s standards. All sin, whether it harms us or others or no one in particular, is ultimately against the Holy God.                                   

A PERVERSION OF GOD’S DESIGN

Human beings have been created in God’s image to reflect His glory. What a high mandate for us! No sin dwells in God. Hence, no sin ought to find place in our lives. But when we sin, we mar the very image of God and raise our hands against God’s glory. We attempt to distort God’s design!

NO EXCUSE FOR SIN

The legal frameworks of many countries have the provision of not convicting people accused of legal aberrations if they are in the ripe old age. The heads of countries and certain government officials enjoy legal immunity till they are in power, for any action of omission or commission. However, there is no excuse whatsoever for sin against God. A sinful man is without excuse. Sin is sin irrespective of the age at which it is committed or the circumstances under which it may be committed. Because we have been created in the image of God, we have His moral law etched in our hearts. This rules out ignorance / lack of awareness as an excuse for sin.

The Bible says, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

SIN  CAN NEVER BE HIDDEN

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

All sinful deeds committed under the table, behind closed doors, in the darkest corners, in mountain holes or in the deep seas stand exposed before the Omniscient God. People around us may remain ignorant of the petty or humongous misdeeds committed by us. But, you and I can never escape the All-seeing eyes of the One who watches everything.

SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES – ON EARTH AS WELL AS IN ETERNITY

A spelling mistake in exam would result in less marks and scolding from parents/tutors. A typo in an important document would lead an employee to wash his/her hands off the job. A misprint in the wedding invitation card may lead guests to land up at the wrong venue. Similarly, sin’s consequences are inescapable. To give an example – A person fiddling with multiple sexual partners is bound to suffer from STDs, apart from other social and emotional consequences.

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing…”

INTENSITY IS NOT THE DEFINING PRINCIPLE OF SIN

A sin is a sin if it violates God’s standards, no matter whether it is measured as big or small by the world. And God’s standards are really high. The Bible says –

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So, if we have been categorizing murder, robbery, rape as grave sins and dismissing petty lies, cheating, anger, bribery as circumstantial acts of misdeed, it’s time for a reality check!

As long as we are in the flesh, we are susceptible to sin. The Bible says, “…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…”

It is easy to brush aside this whole concept of sin which tends to make one pretty uncomfortable. But, it is not right to live each day ignoring the fact that we may be sinning in multiple ways. Such an understanding would ultimately lead to a doomed eternity, as our sinful thoughts, words and actions are bound to come before us one day. Sin calls for repentance and repentance leads to seeking forgiveness from God and man.

Friends, living in sin equals to dying to God. Let’s not mess with sin. Let’s seek to remove the shadow of sin from our lives.