Sarkar: The new Indian Judiciary

18 Oct 2006
Posted by Kiran

"Mujhe badla chahiye Sarkar" cries an old man. A command is given with a gentle glance and mere eye contact sets the ball rolling. The next thing you know is justice has been done - limb for a limb, life for a life.

For those of you who are fans of the Bachchans the above plot description may sound familiar. Yes, it is my attempt to describe the initial sequences from the recent Hindi movie "Sarkar". The power exuded by the characters in this movie, Subhash Nagre and later on in the film Shankar Nagre too, is simply phenomenal! The movie may be inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's timeless classic "The Godfather", but is the story believable in the Indian setting? Oh yes, very.

Ask any Indian how much faith they have on the Indian Judiciary's ability to deliver justice and the most probable answer you will get is "not much". Everyone knows that going to court is probably one of the most painful experiences you will ever go through in India. It will be ages, maybe even eternity, before you hear what the outcome of the case is - whether justice actually got done or not will still remain open to debate.

I read today that Santhosh Singh has finally been convicted for the rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo. That it should take 10 years for the Indian Judicial system to convict a rapist and a murderer, after initially setting him free, itself speaks volumes for the kind of justice that gets meted out by these courts of ours!

With such an ineffective judiciary it is only but natural that Godfathers such as "Sarkar" are looked at as an easier, more efficient and quicker way to obtain the "justice" you want. That is what makes the movie so believable.

There is indeed a need for reform in our Judicial system. Something to stop it from dragging its feet. The corruption that allows the rich and famous (remember Salman Khan?) to get out on bail at will while the poor languish in jails also needs to be worked out of this system.

What could be the answer? Perhaps we can have tougher laws, more rigorous punishments? Life in prison for serious cases of corruption, anyone? Once convicted the people may be barred from ever contesting an election or holding a government job. Something that will truly make it difficult to go out in public for fear of being recognized and ridiculed as a convict.

I am no legal expert and hence will refrain from commenting any further on how this can be achieved. But I don't need to be an expert to know that the current legal framework we are working with today is not serving us well.

Our politicians would do better service to the nation if they actually got down to the business of making better laws rather than fight over Minority Reservation, Hindutva or Secularism.

Whether they will actually get around to doing this, only time will tell. Until then, we will continue to have members of the public resorting to "Sarkar"s for real justice. Until then we can only hope and pray.