If the law is the command of the sovereign, what is the legitimacy of the law propounded by a corrupt and criminally enthroned sovereign? The effect of the regime of a corrupt and criminally maneuvered government is the same as anarchy, or is even worse. As Thomas Hobbes rightly describes anarchy as a “war of all against all”, he calls the life of the man under an anarchy as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. It was almost half a century ago when John Kenneth Galbraith, a renowned economist, had called India ‘a functioning anarchy’. His statement was in the context of India’s existence and sustenance despite the inaction of the government. This description can still adorn the country in different terms with respect to the effect stimulated by a government which occupies excessive power, the abuse of which nullifies the law and dehumanizes the citizens; thereby, contributing to increase in crimes.
The sociological school traces the alarming influence of society in general in the causation of crimes. It is the same school which has jurists who theorized various juvenile delinquency theories including differential opportunity theory, anomie theory, sub-culture theory, etc. All these theories establish a link between juvenile delinquency and society, but the role of the state in crime causation was only limited to the inability of the government and law enforcement agencies in curbing crime. Hence, the state became responsible only to the extent of its inefficiency. The juveniles grew up in a disintegrated social structure, driven by their ill fortunes and indulging in unlawful pleasure, motivated by crime as a means to an end. The influence of family and peers during childhood have also been the point of the study of many theories. But what is the influence of a government dwelling in corruption led by criminal leaders on the young adults?
A recent study published in the Nature Journal, undertaken by two students of Yale University and Nottingham University took up an empirical approach on the relationship between political heads and crime rates. The research centered around the extent to which citizens of different countries exhibited inherent traits of dishonesty. They reached a conclusion that in the countries where rule violations were prevalent on behalf of the ones holding the office of power, higher unethical behavior can be seen among the citizens. Consequently, this theory draws a conclusion that corrupt leaders induce higher crime rates. This study can easily be linked to our pre-existing jurisprudence on juvenile delinquency. The Social Learning and Social Cognitive theories suggest that youth tend to display the behavior which they identify with ‘role models’ who they deem to be worthy of imitation than others (Bandura 1971). When these ‘worthy role models’ are the ones who possess negative personalities the results would be likewise. In India, a recent study conducted by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) revealed that 35% of the chief ministers have criminal cases against their names, and 26% of them are for serious offenses like murder. Furthermore, surprisingly even leaders who have offenses against women charged against them were preferred for tickets. Growing up in our society, one way to adapt to this political infirmity would be by developing an understanding of what is wrong and hence should be avoided. The other way is vile and vicious and preferred by the deprived classes. On one side of the scale, there’s the wealthy and prosperous and on the other side, there are leaders who serve them by adducing benefits. Thus crime is the stimuli against growing political inequality and instability by the deprived classes who have no place on these scales. These crimes are effectuated by the state’s actions rather than inaction.
Criminal acts abetted and aided by the state is on a toll and most of these acts are directly or indirectly attributable to the government. It is in our country itself that a leader equated the life of a human with the life of a cow, and kicked the increase in mob lynching to the sidelines as such incidents according to him do not require much attention. The violence and attack against minority religions and communities are also on the rise, and when the leaders on top of the hierarchy are promoting ideals of ‘Hindutva’, ‘Hindurashtra’, and extreme nationalism, such aggravated mob frenzy is inevitable. Doesn’t the government become the perpetrator of these crimes by passively and actively abetting and excluding itself from its accountability to the masses? When a man was tied to an army vehicle as a human shield and paraded in Kashmir, the following months witnessed increased tensions between civilians and the police force, and militant attack of security personnel. In an already complex political structure of Kashmir, the state’s brutality can only worsen the situation. And the situation in Kashmir can be a version of what can be the future of rest of India if the rule of law is abandoned and a despotic government indulged in criminal activities prospers.
Offenses against women is another major area of concern. The sudden public uproar after a series of brutal rape cases led to ‘sentencing reforms’ which includes the death penalty for rape, the death penalty for juvenile offenders between 16 to 18 who commits serious offenses, and it has reached till the point of death penalty for child rapists. After all these, a recent study conducted by Thomson Reuters has named India as the most dangerous country for women. The deterrent effect of harsher punishments is nullified before the hypocrisy of the government which protected the rapist politician in the Unnao Case and the government which propagated religious hatred which materialized into the rape of an eight-year-old Muslim girl inside a temple by Hindu men.
A man is an expression of the society he is a part of. A child who is born in a chaotic society led by a government whose ideology is to spread hatred between different groups, a government made of corrupt and criminal politicians playing the blame game and a government promoting violence, grows up to become a man accustomed to crime and cruelty. Thus it is true to state that it is the lack of positive role models and the presence of negative role models in our society that is leading to the society reciprocating and exhibiting increased criminal behavior.