Thursday, 18 October 2012

Justice, Laws and The Normal

In any society there is a common understanding of what is just. That definition may not always be written down in law. But it is understood to be the way it is. That common understanding of delivering justice, the way things have been accepted to be is what I am calling The Normal. The normal is different for different societies. What is acceptable in one society is not acceptable in another. The same society also evolves (or devolves?) and then establishes a new normal.

What is written down in law may have been debated and discussed and with application of mind and what is called jurisprudence may have been incorporated in the law. But the society will change. Depending on how well the law is honoured or how well it is implemented the law will have an effect on the society or it will loose its effect on the society and become irrelevant. But the society will always have a normal, it will establish a new normal. This is what is explained in the scriptures when the scripture define the Yugs,  Sat-Yug, Treta Yug, Dwapar-Yug, and the Kal-Yug. Every Yug had its own normal. What is acceptable in one Yug was not acceptable in a previous Yug. The Sat-Yug was supposed to be an ideal, something that is always aspired but can never be achieved again, every subsequent Yug is a result of devolution of values.

In modern society, law is supposed to have evolved and got better with time. The murderous society of a war torn African country with people living in an environment of ethnic strife, or the country of Afghanistan, has a different normal from the normal of a peaceful society. To an outsider it does not have a rule of law. But is always has a normal of how to get justice in the day to day life of the people. Because justice is separate from law. Law is supposed to deliver justice but law is not justice. Law comes from outside from deliberation, from application of mind, from conventions, from an understanding of justice which people writing the law have. Justice comes from within. Each one of us is born with inherent sense of what is just and a sense of victim hood comes from being denied that justice. Individual seeks justice despite what is the rule of law. 

Even a child has a sense of just and unjust what changes is his acceptance of just and unjust and that acceptance comes from the understanding of the normal. The child as he grows comes to know the normal. What is the normal is taught to the child. The society teaches it. Many a times the child sees a contradiction between what is being taught and what he sees really exists as the normal. The child also has his sense of justice within. That inherent sense evolves as the child grows.That leads to conflict and confusion. The child chooses his convictions as the child discovers the world. To progress like a river the child chooses his contours. But the child always has to work within the normal. Child grows into a man with a full understanding of what is the normal in the society he is part of.

The written law is separate, its effect on society is varied, the normal is the reality, justice is separate. When man faces injustice then man will seek justice within the normal. If the normal follows the written law the man will follow the written law if normal is different from written law man will still follow the normal. Justice is sought within the normal. It is a separate matter that justice may not be achieved by someone because seeking justice within the normal is beyond his means and so the person lives with injustice. But if justice has to be sought in that society then it has to be sought within the normal else there will be no justice received because the laws if they exist may be separate from the normal. So in Afghanistan if normal is to use gun violence and justice has to be sought then gun violence has to be used there is no rule of another law.

Question arises what is the normal in our country? What is the effect of written law on the country's normal? If the normal is to pay bribes as a matter of convention to get things done then the normal will have to be followed. Justice here involves exploitation as bribes. This is the normal and this normal will be followed. It is not deniable that the limit of justice served is defined by the limit of the justice that exists in the normal. A person's possession is stolen the normal is to pay some bribe to get the possession back then justice here within the normal is the stolen possession minus the bribe. That justice may not be perfect but that is the justice as best it can be. Let me remind again normal is separate from law.

Is the normal just is a question for individual, because let me repeat justice is separate from the normal which is separate from the law. How can normal change? Society can evolve or society can devolve. Devolving is easy, if simply let be it will weather and devolve. When power accumulates within sections and individuals the society devolves because the justice is denied to the weak and a new normal is formed. Or when unjust convention replaces law and widespread agencies implementing law fail then societies devolve and form a new normal. How do societies evolve? When laws are written and improved and the improved laws are delivered and implemented then the normal evolves. The normal also changes when there is disruption. The disruption by definition is abrupt, evolution by definition is gradual. The disruption can be peaceful or the disruption can be violent. But when to change the normal evolution is not working may be disruption is required. 

What is our current normal in India? How just is it? Justice will be sought by an individual, because sense of justice is inherent to an individual. Justice will be sought, either within the normal or if normal is still unjust then the normal will be disrupted. In order to achieve a better normal the process of evolution should deliver. That process is the legislature. The effectiveness of the implementation by the law enforcement (police and judiciary) is how best the normal emulates the written law. Improvement in enforcement evolves the new normal, corrosion in enforcement devolves the normal. Openness in a society raises red flags when the normal is devolving. Openness in society shows the gap that exists between the normal and the written laws. 

If the usual process of evolution fails then disruption of the normal has to be achieved through a different path. Peaceful we hope in the Indian context because, justice comes from within, and every person seeks justice.

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