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Monday, December 27, 2010

Jaundiced rule of law

Dr. Binayak Sen, a pediatrician working for the poor has been sentenced to prison for life. I have not been too aware of the case but whatever is being reported or written, the conviction was based on flimsy and completely non-scientific evidences. Whatever, his belief, whatever his allegiances and his leanings, the manner in which Dr. Sen was denied bail until very late defies logic and rule of law. Despite intervention by prestigious organizations and reputed individuals within and outside India, courts including the highest in the country steadfastly repeatedly even refused him a bail, until a vacation bench of the Supreme Court relented that too because of his deteriorating health. Against all expectations of reason, on Christmas Eve, a district court sentenced him life behind bars for his alleged involvement with Naxals. The relentlessness with which the state apparatus applied itself in keeping Dr. Sen incarcerated and securing his conviction is in broad contrast to the way even cases against murderers are handled in India. Many years ago, a scion of an influential family mowed down a number of homeless persons sleeping on a footpath. He enjoyed the privilege of bail bestowed upon him by obliging courts until conviction. And in not too distant past even a murder convict was allowed a furlough. And classically, the owners of a cinema in Delhi, a scene of carnage due to negligent safety measures made mockery of judicial system until their sham sentencing. Instances of courts, even with clear evidences, acquitting murderers are not difficult to recapitulate. Nothing can match politicians. Notwithstanding, the severity of charges, the cases just disappear, otherwise in most probability most of the governments in India would be run from prison cells. The involvement of most politicians in ‘hawala’ if proved could have given them lifer. Why was then Dr. Sen pursued by a colonial zeal? Could it be that his work and of people like him threatens hidden vested interests? Media never highlighted his case until now, shouldn’t surprise any one as their agenda being different from what they profess. With Dr. Sen’s case in view, the filing of charges against Arundhati Roy can’t be innocuous any more. When a state stops being just and practices visibly jaundiced rule of law, the portents can be nothing but ominous.
-Rajiv Kumar          

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