Public Interest Litigation
Public interest has its origin in the United States. It was during the 1960s that public interest litigation emerges as a part of the legal aid movement primarily aimed at protecting the rights of the weaker sections of the community, such as the women, children, physically and mentally handicapped and the like.
In India during the last few years, a new wave of public interest litigation has struck the courts. It is being argued that public interest litigation has opened a floodgate of litigation and by such action, the Indian judiciary seems to be projecting itself as the upholder of the freedom of people.
This over act of the judiciary is regarded as nothing but interference in the action of the executive, which is making a good and effective government impossible. It is pointed out that the judiciary might collide head on with the other organs of the State-the executive and the legislature- in which event, being the weakest, it would collapse.
Bail Justice System
Bail is a generic term used to mean judicial release from custodia legis. The right to bail- the right to be released from jail in a criminal case, after furnishing sufficient security and bond- has been recognized in every civilized society as a fundamental aspect of human rights. This is based on the principle that the object of a criminal proceeding is to secure the presence of the accused charged of a crime at the time of the inquiry, trial and investigation before the court, and to ensure the availability of the accused to serve the sentence, if convicted. It would be unjust and unfair to deprive a person of his freedom and liberty and keep him in confinement, if his presence in the court, whenever required for trial, is assured.
Justice delayed is justice denied. This is more in criminal cases where the liberty of an individual is at stake and in jeopardy. The irony of fate is that in all such cases, it is the poor and the week who are the victims of the criminal justice system, and not the rich who are able to get away.
The plight of undertrial prisoners for the first time came to the notice of the Supreme Court of India in the landmark case of Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar in 1979, wherein it was disclosed that thousands of undertrial prisoners were languishing in various jails in the State of Bihar for periods longer than the maximum term for which they could have been sentenced, if convicted. While granting a character of freedom for undertrials who had virtually spent their period of sentences, the court said their detention was clearly illegal and was in violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Art.21 of the Constitution of India. The court further said that speedy trial is a constitutional mandate and the State can’t avoid its constitutional mandate and its constitutional obligation by pleading financial or administrative inability.
There is however, hardly any change in the condition of the jails and the attitude of the jail administration, and in spite of constitutional mandate for speedy trial, there are over two lakh prisoners, convicts and undertrials who are endlessly awaiting an early hearing of their cases.
It may be noted that the liberal remissions and grant of frequent paroles to the prisoners to spend time with their families would help to inculcate self confidence in prisoners and reduce the intensity of some of the prison vices.
Compensation to Victims of Crime
Criminal law, which reflects the social ambitions and norms of the society, is designed to punish as well as to reform the criminals, but it hardly takes any notice of by product of crime- i.e. its victim.
The poor victims of crime are entirely overlooked in misplaced sympathy for the criminal. The guilty man is lodged, fed, clothed, warmed, lighted, and entertained in a model cell at the expense of the state, from the taxes that the victim pays to the treasury. And, the victim, instead of being looked after, is contributing towards the care of prisoners during his stay in the prison. In fact, it is a weakness of our criminal jurisprudence that the victims of crime don’t attract due attention.
The code of criminal procedure, 1973, Sec.357 and Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, Sec.5; empowers the court to provide compensation to the victims of crime. However it is noted with regret that the courts seldom resort to exercising their powers liberally. Perhaps taking note of the indifferent attitude of the subordinate courts, the apex court in Hari Krishan case, directed the attention of all courts to exercise the provisions under Sec.357 of the Cr.P.C. liberally and award adequate compensation to the victim, particularly when an accused is released on admonition, probation or when the parties enter into a compromise.
In the recent years, the Supreme Court and High Courts by invoking Art.21 of the Constitution have tried to give some compensatory relief to the poor victims of illegal detention at the hands of the executive. Such cases are, however, numbered and are not going to solve the malady.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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