Citizens' Issues
When Justice Is Not Black and White
Courts often deal with moral dilemmas, when the just course is unclear
 
Over the past issues, Moneylife readers must have noticed that filing cases in courts, either civil or criminal, entails a certain amount of responsibility. To jog the grey cells, we especially refer to the case where a public prosecutor, though aware of his case’s weakness, avoided withdrawing it as he was worried that he may be hauled over the coals for graft. In a way, he was right. Even though the complainant refused to turn up for almost all of the 32 hearings, withdrawal of the case would have entailed a few questions. Why should that be so?
 
A very recent Supreme Court judgement throws light on the subject. It says a lot for the sanity of the bench and against the detractors. 
 
So, you be the judge.
 
A police inspector is alleged to have taken a bribe. He is trapped by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). The usual enquiries are made and there is a prima facie evidence against the man. He is charge-sheeted and is now an accused in a criminal case.
 
Andhra Pradesh is one of several Indian states that are fertile ground for anti-national activities. These are home-grown terrorists who specialise in attacking the Establishment, especially police parties and convoys. The duty that the forces face are hazardous, to say the least. Police action against the perpetrators requires skill, daring and intelligence. Any police officer successful in such pursuits, and who comes out alive, deserves recognition for meritorious service.
 
In this case, the inspector was the one involved in both, the graft and the heroic act. The Andhra Pradesh government decided that with such gallantry behind him, the inspector should not be prosecuted for an amount as small as Rs5,000—the alleged bribe that the man had sought.
 
Was the government right in pardoning the inspector? 
 
You be the judge.
 
The matter went right up to the apex court. It declined the government’s plea. The court maintained its independence and instructed the Executive—in this case, the Andhra Pradesh government, to distance itself from the proceedings. The bench of Justice Deepak Mishra and Justice PC Ghose said that it was the bounden duty of every judicial proceeding to consider whether such an act, on the part of the Executive was likely to derail the course of law. It said that such a pardon on the part of the courts could lead to manifest injustice. Strong words.
 
In a case in England, something not dissimilar had happened. And the court’s words were equally eloquent. A man had committed a theft. He was caught. He was found guilty. He was jailed. Unfortunately for the crook, his travails did not end there. After the cops had their day and say, the income-tax authorities came into the picture. To them, the money stolen was ‘income’ and, therefore, had to be taxed!
 
In law, there is a saying that a man cannot be punished for the same crime twice. Why? We shall discuss that at a later date. But our poor thief sought refuge behind this shelter. 
 
You be the judge.
 
Should the man pay the taxes asked for? After all, he had paid for his crime by imprisonment. Paying taxes, he said, would amount to double jeopardy. And he had already paid for his crime.
 
The judge disagreed. His lyrical pronouncement said that justice cannot be delivered with a blinkered eye. The law cannot, he said, rule with one eye open to the crime and another closed to the tax liability. The man must pay for both, the crime and the ‘income’.
 
Sharp readers may ask if the money was recovered from the crook. The book is silent on that, unfortunately. But maybe the money was spent to pay the lawyer for the unsuccessful defence. 
 
Poetic justice?
 
Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. 

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

2 years ago

Mr. Dhoka,

Presume you mean black sheep.

We all have horror stories to tell but to tar all with the same brush, and without solid proof, is incorrect. Maybe, I have more axes to grind than you do, but then, to use a public medium, uncensored, to air our grouses may lead others into difficult situations.

Am sure a lot of your blogs still remain. My concern was Moneylife, the magazine, nothing else. You can always post your comments privately.

So will I, (if the need arises)

Radhakrishnan Subbiah

2 years ago

It is time that humanity realises that no of amount laws can help an uncultured society. More the laws, the merrier it is for some... no need to name them. Back-bone of this great country's culture was systematically broken by the foxy British. But now, even after independence, we are only apeing their laws ,designed for the benefit of their rule. All that we need, is to re-establish our proven culture, where there need be only a few sane guidelines (exemplified by Gurus / the teachers )to live by. It is enough for a cultured society.

Vaibhav Dhoka

2 years ago

There are black ships everywhere and more in judiciary as complaint against a judge is not checked authentically.Now you hear from J.Katju who has bought many Chief Justices in suspicious area.Then there is compalint going on in SC about sexual harassment of Addl.District judge of MP by high court judge.Now the question is what type of JUSTICE such blackships will be delivering.This I am writhing as you insisted my blog to be removed from this column.There was 100% truth.Who will judge these blackships in judiciary.

UP Court returns Police charge sheet against Amit Shah

The Magistrate Court in Muzaffarnagar returned the chargesheet against BJP chief Amit Shah to the police, saying they had not followed rules

 

In an embarrassment to the UP Police, a court in Muzaffarnagar on Thursday refused to take cognisance of the charge sheet against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah in connection with the alleged hate speech made by him.

 

The court returned the charge sheet to the police, saying the agency had not followed rules. Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sunder Lal said the police had not followed the provisions of 173[2] CrPc. Police did not seek warrant or attachment proceedings against the accused under the provisions laid down under 173[2] CrPc, the court added.

 

Returning the chargesheet to remove errors, the Court said police cannot filed chargesheet under section 188 IPC as it should be filed as a private complaint by the concerned officer, who had imposed prohibitory orders which were violated.

 

On Wednesday, Shah was chargesheeted by the police for his alleged hate speech during campaigning at Muzaffarnagar for the Lok Sabha elections.

 

The chargesheet was filed against 49-year-old Shah in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Manoj Sidhu.

 

The charges were filed against Shah under Section 123(3) of Representation of the People Act for allegedly seeking votes on the grounds of religion, race, caste and community and under Section 188 of the IPC relating to disobedience to order promulgated by public servant.

 

The chargesheet had been filed under various sections of IPC, including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, etc.), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class) and 505 (false statement, rumour, etc. circulated with intent to cause mutiny or offence against the public peace), and Section 123-3 of Representation of People Act (making an appeal to vote on the grounds of religion amounting to corrupt practice).

 

Police had registered a case against Shah for allegedly violating the model code following a direction from EC, which had also banned him from campaigning in the state on 4th April.

 

Shah had landed in a major controversy for allegedly saying that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were an opportunity to seek "revenge for the insult" inflicted during the riots in Muzaffarnagar last year.

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‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius ‘not guilty’ of murder: Court

Pistorius was charged with one count of murder and three firearms offences over the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013

 

‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius on Thursday was found not guilty of the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as a South African judge dismissed the most serious charges against him.

 

“The state clearly has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder,” Thokozile Masipa said, before dealing with the lesser charge of culpable homicide — also known as manslaughter.

 

“Viewed in its totality the evidence failed to establish that the accused had the requisite intention to kill the deceased, let alone with premeditation,” said Masipa.

 

“Clearly he did not objectively foresee this as a possibility, that he would kill the person behind the door,” she said as she later dismissed the lesser charge of common murder.

 

The 27-year-old sat in the dock bowed and burying his head in his hands after the finding was made.

 

Pistorius was charged with one count of murder and three firearms offences over the killing on Valentine’s Day 2013.

 

He could still be found guilty of culpable homicide, carrying anything from a suspended sentence to a lengthy prison stretch, or he could be acquitted.

 

A charge of premeditated murder would have meant a life sentence in South Africa’s notoriously brutal jails.

 

Pistorius had grimaced and sniffled as he watched Masipa call Pretoria’s High Court to order and read her verdict.

 

Both defence and prosecution agree Pistorius killed the law graduate and model when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home.

 

But the sprinter says he thought he was shooting at an intruder while Steenkamp was safely in bed.

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