By: M.S.Yatnatti Editor and Video Journalist Bengaluru: According to reports there is huge gap between rich and poor .Many a time rich people buy the justice and innocent suffers .Many people believe in India the fact that our legal system is skewed against the poor and marginalized is well known. And to that extent, it's only expected that they get harsher punishment than the rich. Rich and influential buy the witnesses and certamily theu buy the justice .But here are figures that tell the full story.A first of its kind study conducted by NLU , which has analysed data from interviews with 373 death row convicts over a 15-year period, has found three-fourths of those given the death penalty belonged to backward classes and religious minorities; an equal proportion were from economically weaker sections. The reason why the poor, Dalits and those from the backward castes get a rougher treatment from courts is more often than not their inability to find a competent lawyer to contest their conviction. As many as 93.5% of those sentenced to death for terror offences are Dalits or religious minorities.The findings are part of a study conducted by National Law University students with the help of law panel that is engaged in a wider consultation with different stakeholders on the issue of death penalty and whether it should be abolished. Law panel chairman Justice A P Shah, himself a strong proponent of abolition of death penalty , is to submit a final report to the Supreme Court by next month. Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan Reportedly said: "It is true that there is a class bias, otherwise why would we have so many people languishing in jail because they cannot afford a lawyer to get bail?" He said only 1% of the people can afford a competent lawyer. Afzal Guru hardly had any legal representation at the trial court stage, he added. Founder of Human Rights Law Network and senior advocate Colin Gonsalves says, "I think the finding that 75% of the death row convicts are poor is the absolute minimum. The rich mostly get away while the very poor, especially Dalits and tribals, get the short shrift."
The NLU students reportedly have interviewed all the death sentence convicts and have documented their socio-economic background. The psychological torture these prison ers face before they are hanged are some of the observations in the study . Prisoners on death row are not allowed to attend court proceedings most of the time.In many cases, those interviewed revealed they were unable to understand proceedings even when they got an opportunity to be in the court as there was not much interaction with their lawyers."Gallows are only for the marginalized. The first thing when a person is arrested is his access to a lawyer. The poor don't get that access while the well-off do and that com pletely changes their case," Reportedly said Suhas Chakma of Asian Centre for Human Rights. For the economically weak, legal aid or advice comes at the trial stage by which time it is too late, he added. Reportedly Death row convicts are put in separate barracks and kept in solitary confinement. They are not allowed to work unlike other prisoners or mingle with anyone, leading to many psychological disorders.
"When there is no justice, the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. ”Scenes from the movies --Fictional lawyer Frank Galvin's summation speech to the jury in the movie, The Verdict, seems particularly relevant in this age where lying is so pervasive as to be accepted by ordinary folks with a blasé shrug of the shoulders. The complete text of Galvin's terse, eloquent, quietly intense closing speech to the jury follows, but, first, to put the scene in context, here is the plot synopsis -In Sidney Lumet's powerful courtroom drama, The Verdict (1982), Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), an alcoholic Boston lawyer on a downward spiral tries to redeem his personal and professional reputation by taking on a difficult medical malpractice case. A young woman, admitted to a large Catholic hospital to have a baby, has been left in a coma. The causal circumstances of the medical misfortune are disputed. When Frank visits the victim in the hospital, he is convinced this is a case of medical malpractice. Acting against the wishes of the patient's family, Galvin turns down a sizable settlement offer made by the Archdiocese of Boston, who run the hospital, and decides to bring the case to trial. Plot complications arise - the presiding judge is biased in the defendant's favour, the powerful corporate lawyer for the defence, Ed Concannon (James Mason), bribes the plaintiff's medical expert to take a holiday and plants a spy in Galvin's office. The courtroom scenes build to a climax centering on the last-minute appearance of a witness for the prosecution with damning evidence against the attending anesthesiologist. On a technicality, the testimony is tossed out. Justice appears to have been thwarted. This sets up Galvin's closing address to the jury, which is much more emotionally charged to watch than to read -
The Summation Scene -- Judge - "Mr Galvin.” <Louder> "Mr Galvin! Summation.”Frank Galvin -- <Sigh, long pause, deep sigh expressing considerable exasperation> --"You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, please God, tell us what is right. Tell us what is true. When there is no justice - the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time we become dead, a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims. And we become victims. We become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. Well, today you are the law. You are the law. Not some book. Not the lawyers. Not the marble statue or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are, they are, in fact, a prayer, a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say act as if ye had faith. Faith will be given to you. If, if we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.”
According to reports No Justice for the Poor: A Preliminary Study of the Law and Practice Relating to Arrests for Nuisance-Related Offences in Blantyre, Malaw.Globally, there has been an increase in the implementation of laws which limit the behaviour, actions and movements of persons in public spaces. This greatly impedes the lives and livelihoods of those living in poverty and further perpetuates discrimination of the poorest and most vulnerable in society. In Malawi, Penal Code offences such as being an idle and disorderly person and being a rogue and vagabond are sometimes used indiscriminately to arrest persons, contributing to overcrowding in police cells and placing a strain on resources in the criminal justice system. These laws tend to give law enforcement officials a wide discretion in application, which increases the vulnerability of persons living in poverty to violence and harassment.CHREAA and SALC's latest report No Justice for the Poor: A preliminary study of the Law and Practice Relating to Arrests for Nuisance-Related Offences in Blantyre, Malawi, discusses these outdated and vague provisions, and how the application of them constitutes an abuse of the rights of those arrested on such charges.The Report is divided into three sections. The first provides a historical background to idle and disorderly and rogue and vagabond provisions in the Malawi Penal Code and queries the relevance and constitutionality of some of these provisions. The purpose of the research in section 2 was to assess arrest practices relating to nuisance-related offences. The third section provides an analysis of how the arrests are made and how those practices violate constitutional rights. The Report concludes with recommendations in relation to the relevance and application of vagrancy laws in Malawi.
THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005 is an Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.RTI Act provides transparency under Section 3 and4(1) (a) (b) (c) and 2(f) of RTI Act 2005 and accountability under 4(1) (d) RTI Act 2005 as the PA will create information; or to interpret information; or to solve the problems raised by the applicants under the system and procedure as per listed Acts and rules regulations listed under 4(1) (a) (b) (c) every day and that can be cross cheeked by applicant by asking reasons under 4(1) (d) by the affected person and copy of the same can be given to any applicant under 2( f)of RTI Act .RTI is a total problem solving mechanism and not just record providing tool.RTI will provide transparency under4(1) (a) (b) (c)and 2(f) of RTI Act2005 every day and Accountability can be ensured under 4(1) (a) (b) (c)(d) and 2(f) of RTI Act 2005and this will reduces the corruption in every public authority . RTI Act is an Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. The information under RTI Act is defined in, Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, which defines "information" under this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,- .(f) "information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e- mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;". This act can be called as the "law of transparency and accountability” which acts as the citizen's weapon to question and get information related to the government's functioning so that they can analyze its performance, and act accordingly.Information is essential for the efficient working of journalists and thus, the Right to Information (RTI) Act is one of the most useful legislations for a journalist. The RTI Act has two basic divisions the first requiring public officials to suo moto publish information pertaining to their departments and the second enabling the public to access information from a public office. The official documentary proof can be obtained by simply filing an application with a fee of Rs. 10.Under Section 2 (j) (ii) of the Act, the applicant can ask for certified copies of the documents or records. This certified copy of the document giving information can be admitted in the Court as Secondary Evidence. Note that under the RTI Act, the right to information includes the right to inspection of work, documents and records; taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. A citizen has a right to obtain information from a public authority in any relevant form including in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through print-outs provided such information is already stored in a computer or in any other device from which the information may be e-mailed or transferred to diskettes etc.RTI, one of the few weapons the common man has in his fight against the high and mighty, citizens haveunlimited powers under RTI Act 2005.Every PA must understand that "information" is not created in "Paraloka” or "Swargaloka” or in "CIC "or "SIC” which will be given by PA under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act.It is PA which creates the information every day 4(1) (a) (b) (c) and the "information" inany form, including records, documents, memos, e- mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form need to be created as per 4(1) (a) (b) (c) reasons under 4(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) need to be given by PA tothe affected person and copy of the same can be given to any applicant under 2( f)of RTI Act .The PA should be forced to function and create information strictly as per under 4(1) (a) (b) (c) on the applications and request of public and provide it under 2(f) of RTI Act and information should not be incomplete misleading and falseand public is free to check accountability under 4(1) (d) RTI Act 2005.The Right to Information (RTI) Act is one of the most important tools that can empower the common man, it had become imperative to fight against corruption for the effective functioning of the three pillars of democracy -- legislature, executive and judiciary. The three pillars of democracy had been included in the ambit of the RTI Act and people should make use of the provisions of the Act to bring down corruption. There was a need to create awareness among people on the wide range of powers enshrined in the RTI Act. The educated sections of society must take active part in the fight against injustice and use the provisions of the RTI Act to protect the rights of the people.THE INFORMATION IS CREATED UNDER RTI ACT 4(1) (a) (b) (c) 2005: And PA is obligated to provide this information created earlier and created every day and updated publicly and freely to all.Under 4 (1) (a) information is created before 2005 is computerized : The public authorities were functioning since before RTI ACT 2005 Under 4 (1) (a) they need to computerize the all available records and catalogues andmake them available in digital or electronic format on electronic network. PA is obligated to provide this information publicly and freely.Under 4 (1) (b) information is created every day: The public approaches every day with request letters and applications and grievances to public authorities .The public authoritiesfunctionsevery day and they create information on the request letters and applications and grievances to public authorities as per organizational function and duties and as per the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;and as per the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions and as per thepowers and duties and procedures followed in decision making process including channels of supervision and accountability as perthe rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records ; under 4 (1) (b). The PA must declare publicly and provide information publicly and free of cost in respect of(iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; The above information created by everyday by PA need to be updated and put on electronic network every year as updated information.Under 4 (1) (c) information is created by PA: The PA need to publish all decisions and policies and relevant facts which affects public.The Accountability is checked by public under 4 (1) (d): The citizens who are affected by decisions made under RTI ACT 4(1) (a) (b) (c) can seek reasons for their administrative and quasi judicial decisions .PA can provide reasons to affected person and copy of such reasons can be provided to anybody under 2(f) of RTI Act. Public is fully authorized to ask how and why and under what rules and regulations such decision is arrived at under 4(1) (a) (b) (c) of RTI ACT 2005 using 4 (1) (d).An RTI application can force the PA to create information on his application to PA under 4(1) (a) (b) (c) of RTI ACT 2005 and at the same time he can check the information whether it is provided as per 4(1) (a) (b) (c) of RTI ACT 2005 by invoking 4 (1) (d) of RTI Act 2005.And whereas democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Government and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed
Conclusion: Citizens can force every PA to create information every day strictly as per the system and procedure as per listed Acts and rules regulations listed under 4(1) (a) (b) (c) every day and that can be cross cheeked by applicant by asking reasons under 4(1) (d) by the affected person and copy of the same can be given to any applicant under 2( f)of RTI Act .Promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. Policy on Prevention, Detection, and Remediation of Fraud and Corruption by government is must and a major element of good governance is the control of corruption. For that reason, controlling corruption has been a key indicator. Good governance is a keystone of government