Monday, July 22, 2024

Hindujas and justice


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A developed nation is materially different from an under-developed one. In several cases, the difference could be as vast as the distance between the South Pole and the North Pole. So too with the justice dispensation systems in the developed West and in India. India remains a chaotic democracy with its loose systems that appears to worsen by the day, thanks to poor governance.
Take, for instance, the verdict passed by a Swiss court in Geneva, Switzerland, this past week, on Indian-born Hindujas, Britain’s wealthiest family with assets of nearly $50 billion. The court has sentenced four of the family members, including two women, for jail terms of four or more years on charges that they maltreated four domestic servants brought from native India. Charges were that they paid a pittance as salary, confined them to the home for long periods without allowing them movement, etc. A question that arises is, whether any prominent individual or family in this country ever faced such court verdicts even for worse crimes. Juxtapose this query with complaints that the justice dispensation systems – including the police and courts – impose their weight solely on the poor, the disadvantaged, the weak and the powerless. This is the irony of the situation. India has all the laws but hardly ever are high-profile individuals, be they businessmen, bureaucrats or politicians, sentenced to jail terms. Exceptions were a few like Lalu Prasad Yadav, who too spent most of his jail term in “hospitals” – a euphemism for a luxurious living for a convict outside of prison cells. The overall scenario had never been good, and it worsened in the last 10 years of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s term.
The central enforcement agencies, including the ED, the CBI, the Vigilance, Anti-Corruption wings and the police drag investigations to hopelessly long terms while corrupt officials make hay and delay or even deflect the course of justice. Courts keep arguing cases for long years, and in the end, punishment is often the first casualty. Entire governmental systems are getting more and more corrupt, ineffective; and like Nero, those who run the government at the apex look the other way. They do not treat it as their business to set things right. The beginning of the 1990s saw economic reforms, which ended the socialist raj, and the national economy started growing faster. This should have been followed by reforms in other sectors, but very little has happened other than the market reforms in the name of GST. Labour laws are not followed and no one dares complain. The ten years of the Modi government is noted for an absence of concerted actions on multiple fronts other than the infrastructure sector. Winning an election by itself cannot entitle a dispensation to a “good-service entry” in the performance records.


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