“Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.”—Oliver Goldsmith
The above statement was given by Oliver goldsmith who was an Irish novelist of the 18th century. This statement is still relevant and has meaning.
The context of the above statement is with respect to law and how it is different for the rich and the poor. The constitution of India guarantees equality before law under article 14. But this equality before law is de jure. In practise we see a wide gap in the access to legal services to the rich and the needy.
Although legal services and it’s access has been made a DPSP under article 39(a)*, it is still difficult for the poor to get justice. Lack of awareness and low literacy affects their rights from being delivered. Whereas, the rich can hire the best of the lawyers and get the best legal advise. The elite even have the power to twist laws and legislate according to their needs.
What grinds the poor is the continuous cycle of giving money to lawyers, time consuming traveling to courts usually in cities away from their residence, lack of clear understanding and ultimately losing hope in the system of justice. This vicious cycle is a matter of life and losing all hard earned money for the marginalised. Counselling helps in courts and by arbitrators. But prudence is twisted by whims and fancies of the powerful.
In the corridors of power, justice is lost at the demise of truth. Only money prevails and the wrinkles of the poor deepen. Nothing can then pull the marginalised from the clutches of poverty. They are indebted and feel suffocated by the thought of courts and lawyers.
Never was the idea to make law and justice such dreaded words by any of the legal luminaries. Education in law was only a thing of the elites in the past. But in the recent years, law education has become available to everyone based merit and also quota at respective institutes. Law is today a better understood subject. Although a little learning can be dangerous, therefore sound knowledge is the key to understanding justice.
Law doesn’t just concern to reveal the truth but also concerns deliver of justice. Merely filing cases will not help, delivering justice and implementation of it is the answer to gain trust of the poor and not give away the authority to the rich altogether.
*ARTICLE 39A. Equal justice and free legal aid. Article was inserted by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976.
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