Sunday, 5 April 2015

Indian courts are a big costume drama

In the days of British Raj, the rulers used the judiciary to overawe us, their subjects whom they referred to as "natives". And so they had judges in full British costumes with the servants and bodyguards in Indian costumes, and this made it amply clear to us that they were in charge of our country. Judiciary was a tool to make us dependent on our colonial masters for resolving our own disputes.
The British were fantastic at running such colonial courts throughout the length and breadth of their empire, with similar methods. They made a great show of justice and fairness, and succeeded in convincing us that our Indian laws and methods of dispute resolution were totally inferior, and that there was no substitute for British justice. This huge costume drama impressed upon us that King George or whoever -- and his minions, the judges, had an indisputable authority over even the Indian kings, princes and upper classes. India's masses had no choice but to fall in line!
The British set up ironclad traditions of this stagecraft, which our post-Independence legislators didn't dare to critically examine and analyse. Nor did they want to. This ongoing nautanki suited the Indian government, legislators and ruling classes by serving the original purpose of keeping people servile, compelled to say, "Milord, I crave leave to blah blah blah... and for such favour we shall forever crave". When people entered court, all thoughts about being free citizens of a democracy were forgotten!
Today, though watered down, our judiciary continues the same British traditions and the costume drama without ever re-examining them and their suitability to the Indian democracy.
I'm ashamed at our own retardedness; why have our great intellectuals not seen through this nonsensical make-believe? Why do we believe that the only way to give justice to the Indian people is to speak in ancient Latin and follow practices from medieval Britain?
Enough of this mumbo-jumbo, slavishness and childishness. Time to grow up and take a fresh look at the whole thing... and in the process, create a legal system that is in tune with India's culture and the aspirations of our democracy-loving people.
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