HC orders against extra-judicial penalties
THE High Court directive to the police to probe all incidents of extra-judicial punishments inflicted on the victims of so-called arbitration reflects the court's due concern over the aberration of justice often based on so-called fatwa delivered by village mullahs. The HC order has come in the wake of a series of incidents in which people, particularly vulnerable, poor women, were whipped ruthlessly, following pronouncement by self-appointed arbitrators in utter violation of the law. And these women, who could not seek legal redress, had to suffer silently as the law enforcers failed to protect them.
Now this parallel justice system developed by the vested quarters is not only unlawful but also an affront to society as a whole. It is also based on misinterpretation of religious ethos and exploitations of religious sentiments of simple people. And what is really a matter of great concern is that they often show a marked bias against women.
All these practices have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam. The High Court has very judiciously ordered the law enforcers to protect the victims of so-called fatwa and village arbitration. The court also expressed its indignation at the failure of the police to come to the rescue of victims. Obviously, the law enforcers' role in preventing such extra-judicial activities is very important, but reports indicate that the police officers could never do anything more than telling the press that they would be looking into the matter whenever an incident of this kind happened. Similarly, the role of the civil administration was never forceful enough to make any impression on the elements running their own system of justice.
It is a much broader question of establishing social justice than being only fair to a few helpless individuals. After all, extra-judicial activities greatly undermine the existing justice system alongside denying equal rights to all citizens. It reminds us of the days when the law of the jungle prevailed in the absence of the judiciary. It also undermines the position of Islam as a religion because of the misinterpretation of its ethos by the half-educated, obscurantist elements.
Both the civil administration and the law enforcement agencies will find it hard to explain why they could not do anything about the atrocities committed in the name of dispensation of justice. The HC orders should amply make it clear to them that they have to stop such social repression through tightening the noose of the law, or face the accusation of being incompetent.