Justice is the bedrock of good governance, a flourishing nation and civilized society. History of civilizations bears witness that nations and societies prospered and flourished as long as they practised justice – whosoever stood at the receiving end. And, equally true, their downfall started once they left the rope of justice and started giving credence to their whims and inconsistencies. But, as the ever rising number of history-sheeters and disciples of Machiavelli in political corridors would have it, there seems to be hardly anyone to take a lesson or two from these golden chapters of history. It is not that now we have made a fresh study of some of these chapters and feel impelled to tell you about them. Rather we are pained at the sight of deliverance of injustice to the victims of various riots and tragedies.
On the one hand, a local court in Bhopal on June 7 convicted eight persons in the Bhopal Gas tragedy case and awarded them a maximum of only two years imprisonment. This great verdict came a quarter century after the tragedy that had claimed over 15,000 lives and rendered millions to lead a crippled life. And on the other, a week later, some of the protestors against the inordinate delay in dealing with the Bhopal gas leak cases were slapped with 3-year imprisonment. The human and civil rights activists like Satinath Sarangi and Abdul Jabbar, who are helping the victims of this industrial disaster, also complain they have been made to face criminal cases based on concocted charges. This is the price they have to pay for fighting for justice. And this is also a travesty of justice that those responsible for the world’s worst industrial disaster were either allowed to roam free or else slapped with minor charges while those who have been protesting or pleading for justice for two decades and a half are intimidated with false cases.
Union Carbide’s is not the solitary case in which injustice has been done in the name of justice. There are a plethora of cases in which the rich and mighty go scot-free and the poor and marginalised are implicated, harassed and tortured. Take, for instances, the case of Babri Masjid demolition or those of anti-Sikh riots of Delhi in 1984 and anti-Muslim massacre of Gujarat in 2002. In none of them you will find justice being delivered. Yes, commissions are set up, cases filed, proceedings go on for years together – all for public consumption and also at the cost of taxpayers’ money – ultimately to reach to a dead end. We believe this rot lies in lack of selflessness, integrity and probity in the rank and files that run the administration. And it is destined to keep on haunting the nation unless people find its solution in the Grace of God, whose fear alone can deter them from doing injustice.