Morality of Legal System in India – a Learning from My Recent Visit to BITS Pilani

By at 16 March, 2010, 9:24 am

Geeta Updesh - Morality of Laws in IndiaI recently met Hayagriv Sridharan and Kushal Agarwal, two students from BITS, Pilani. They had presented a paper on “Morality of Profits”. One of them said “Do unto others what you would do unto yourself!” while making the presentation. This statement had a long lasting impression on me.

Bentham said that law is the greatest happiness to the greatest number. Thus the utilitarians believed that it is the morals of the society which determine the laws that govern an individual. Laws related to marital rape, abortion, incest and capital punishment often reflect the general will of the society.

Morals are usually regarded as a contextual and subjective notion that depends on the values of respective individuals. However, I think morals are the general notions that prevail in the society. Prohibiting Sati was an immoral act in 1830’s but proscribing sati in 2010 would be absurd and immoral now. Morality depends on the values shared by the society at large. Most of the morals like honesty, fidelity and helpfulness are propagated by all civilizations.

But are we losing these morals in the present scenario? Are we trading off success and morals? In many cases we are. A few months ago I met a lawyer who had successfully defended a case of a rapist who had raped 12 girls (some of them being minors). When I had discussed his approach with a leading doctor (who specialized in criminal investigation), he said morality has no relation with profession. It is a job and it has t be done that way. If that lawyer or doctor would have ever thought that this unfortunate incident could have happened to even to their families probably they would have not supported the perpetrator. Unfortunately these people support their claims by quoting Gita “Karam Kar Par Phal Ki Echa Mat Kar” (do your deeds without being worried about the consequences), but they forget that their deeds are leading to dangerous consequences for others.

I’m glad that if our previous generation feels that morals and success are alien to each other, there are a group of individuals who are determined to prove the contrary.

The legal system is definitely deprived of morals to a large extend, the victim is punished and the perpetrator is protected. Recently a gang rape victim was charged of perjury in the district court of Bhopal. She was threatened by the rapists to change her testimony, when she changed her statements in court. The court started proceedings against her. After the completion of the case probably she would undergo imprisonment for years.

The police, lawyers, judges and legislators have lost their values and compassion towards the victims. The legal system encounters hundreds of victims everyday, but the victim visits the courts once in a hundred days. He is not aware of the obligations of the court. Thus he is manipulated by the system at every stage. Most of times the police lodges the F.I.R on false or inadequate grounds. A substantial harm is done to the credibility of the case in the cross examination that is conducted in the district courts. The witnesses are bribed or threatened and most of them turn hostile. It is observed that the judges are often apathetic towards the rape victims.

Morality is a trait that comes from within and not from an external agency. Every individual is a responsible unit of society. Even an ardent reader of Gita must take into account the consequences of his actions on others. “Always perform your duty efficiently and without any selfish attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains Supreme.”- Gita

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Categories : Legal Mirror | Social Issues

Pukhraj Mittal March 21, 2010

It is well known that Mahatma Gandhi believed in Morality in legal profession. However, if all professions follow his example it may not be practical to deliver most services. Look at the advertisement of soaps, shampoos and other personal care products and you will realize that they are also in business of selling dreams.
However, present level of lack of professional sincerity towards society is unacceptable and dangerous decay.

meghna March 21, 2010

I agree with your concerns and thoughts. It is really sad that in the trade off between money and morals, it is the morals which are on the loosing end.

Sachin March 31, 2010

In India, Law is only for lawyers. Unfortunately, it is the law schools where students are taught to “convince, confuse, corrupt”, which is definitely a very famous quote rampant in almost all law schools. What is more to say then?

Its easy to talk morality but difficult to practice.

Rushabh November 10, 2010

To give Moral values the 1st place is not an easy thing,as it is rightly said today money is having an heavy hand on morals,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
inexhaustible efforts are needed by the whole society to curb this………
it is not a single-man task or a single profession task but if the whole society itself changes its ideology by keeping their morals on top than any other thing the whole scenario will change and no doubt we can soon make our country a gandhian one.

meghna November 20, 2010

I completely agree with you Rushabh.. Efforts are needed by the whole society to keep the moral fabric intact.

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