Strange world, this

It is quite surprising how truth could be twisted to suit convenience and to bail out powerful men in trouble. But it is alarming to learn that there can be so many takers for the farce.

The Jain commission speaks what it thinks is the truth. It has done so after six years of arduous deliberations, extensive interrogations and detailed, painstaking study of all the quantitative and qualitative data available with it. The panel does not claim to have legal sanctity, nor does it appear to aver that those indicted by it should be punished as per law. Admittedly, the panel’s findings are only of information value, based on which a framework can be created for legal action. Justice Jain has not exceeded his brief and it is quite unwarranted to attribute motives to him as is being done in certain quarters. He should certainly not be penalised for coming out with a very objective report on a politically sensitive and emotionally explosive issue.

But then, the lack of a legal obligation on the part of the powers that be to act upon the findings cannot be advanced as an argument to sweep the report under the carpet, as has been unashamedly suggested by the Tamilnadu CM in his interview to a friendly national daily. It was in fact a rude joke that the paper should ask the man who has been indicted on what action should be taken against him. The rational leader was quick to grab the opportunity to suggest that he be let off and goes on to quote the precedent of Thakkar and Verma commissions.

But then, these are strange days. So it is that a Veerappan will decide how long he will remain in jail, or where he will stay during his confinement, or how he will surrender, not to speak of his menu and other luxuries. We now know how the LTTE militants were able to run riot in the State while the authorities remained blind-folded by a red and black tape. The spacious logic is that the accused should be taken into confidence when delivering the punishment. We do not know if this is the rationalists’ answer to judicial activism or simply a demonstration of the well-known Tamil hospitality, which is available aplenty if you just happen to be of ‘their lot’. Nevertheless, revolutionary idea indeed.

It should now follow that a robber cannot be jailed unless he has consented or a cold blooded murderer cannot be hanged unless he chooses the noose. And commissions cannot indict without taking into confidence the person sought to be indicted, Governments are not supposed to act if the accused are unwilling to offer themselves for punishment.

Justice Jain need not have troubled himself so much. Nor need the Judiciary when handling such sensitive issues. If political will is lacking, anyone can slip through the porous laws. It is indeed a futile exercise on the part of the sheep to preach vegetarianism without taking the wolves into confidence.

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Jawahar T R