Justice delayed, justice denied?

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When we talk about law in India – the concept of justice is rather vague. Everyone has their own concepts of adhering to principles, but when caught on the wrong foot – they hope to fully exploit the loopholes in an already tattered moth-eaten legal system. But with justice regularly getting delayed – is there a positive way to perceive this situation?


There was an article in the paper recently, which said a person who was the magistrate somewhere had taken a bribe in 1986, for which the CBI had convicted him now. When I read this, my first reaction was identical to the lone person who had left his comments behind on the website of the newspaper where this article was mentioned – that justice is always very delayed in India, and that justice delayed equals justice denied.

Then I saw the incident in a different light.

This person is now 74 years old, which means he was 48 years old when he committed the offense. If he had been convicted immediately, even if he had been jailed for 4 or 5 years, he would be free by the time he was 53 years old, when he could still happily go about leading an active lifestyle for another 5 – 7 years at least.

But now, there is no way he can work or enjoy good health. So the term of imprisonment, for whatever period it is, will be all the more heavy on him, because of his ill-health. So I felt he would repent his folly more now, than if he had been jailed earlier. This has happened because of the inordinate delay in settling this case.

This I felt would send out a stronger message to the people at large that the law would catch up to them at the most inopportune moment, so it is best to avoid transgressing the law. If the law is swift, it would no doubt soothe a lot of anguished souls, but then, a person would know that if he evaded the law, it would be done with and forgotten. So he might try to plan meticulously and get away clean without being detected. But now, a person who has committed a crime or offense knows that even after two and a half decades, he could be pulled up. So this I feel is a bigger deterrent than swift justice. Also, the long drawn-out legal process itself is many a time a deterrent to people committing crimes.

So to see the positive side of everything, even this apparent inefficiency in our system could have some unexpected side benefits!


2 thoughts on “Justice delayed, justice denied?

    Sukanya Ramanujan said:
    May 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I really don’t know what I should think about this!

    sajanrajagopal said:
    February 28, 2013 at 11:36 am

    hmmm… but what if the person is found to be innocent after twenty years?!

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