Today, I watched a movie called “Janatha Garage” (Telugu; 2016), which according to me, was more than just a movie. It actually was a showcase of a concept that advocated for the existence of an alternate, parallel judicial cum legal system. That really captured my mind.
The movie portrays the story of a people’s court that was established to solve common man’s problems. The only stark difference in this court is that it works out of legal purview and goes beyond constitutional norms. It is kind of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, except it isn’t recognized by law of the land.
So, should these systems and institutions be allowed to exist even though they claim to solve law and order problems without conforming to the legal statute?
Another concept of such justice systems is shown in the form of vigilantism popularized by the world famous shows like Green Arrow. Going by the Wikipedia definition, ‘vigilantism’ means law enforcement undertaken without legal authority, and by a self-appointed group of people.
So is that wrong too? Does solving law and order problems always have to lie within the sphere of legal authority which is already hassled with corruption and ill will?
This needs a deep thinking and careful evaluation of facts. Both vigilantism and people’s courts are fascinating dimensions to solve problems of law and order but they need a reality check. Though movies have glorified these entities as a heroic step, they never show the dynamic equation of real world. So let’s try to list some pros and cons of it.
1. It surpasses the ill service delivery of our police and flawed judiciary.
2. It solves the issue of people at the basic grass-root level.
3. It puts the inefficiency of our law and order system out in open.
4. It promotes community service.
5. It increases people’s confidence in the ability of humans to solve their problems on own.
1. It is unconstitutional in form.
2. It is against the Democratic institutions and the spirit of legal norms.
3. It creates the hurdle in governance process of state.
4. It sometimes leads to things like honour killings. Like Khap Panchayats do.
5. It goes by people’s sentiments not by the facts or evidences.
There are both sides to the coin here. To negate one is a foolish step. So, what is the solution? Well, there’s no doubt that the security of the state is lapsed and law and order is crumbling under maladies such as corruption, inadequacy of staff, lack of trained personnel and criminalisation of politics. And obviously vigilantism is not an answer to this. Every person taking law in their own hands is a step to anarchy.
Therefore, the need of the hour is community policing. It means people and police coming together, helping each other to solve crimes and providing justice to the victims. Though the legal forms of it exist in the nation in various states, it has only been realized in letter and not in spirit. We, as a people, need to assist police to solve this lawlessness problem and at the same time try to hold them accountable for their every action.
We should start treating the law and order problem as a socio-economic problem rather than just a legal issue. With this, our police force should at last redefine its role as one that serves rather than just being a ‘force’. This way, we can truly realise the ideals of justice enshrined in our Preamble.