There are three main pillars of democracy, namely, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. As the press also plays an important role in democracy, it may be called the fourth pillar. If all the four pillars are strong and play their role properly, we can create an ideal society to live in. They also keep a check on each other, and this is a very important aspect of our Constitution which has, by and large, worked well.
This check and balance system is very obviously reflected in recent times when the courts have exercised their powers in the larger interest of the society. People in general have welcomed this development because they feel that the other three pillars of the democracy have not played their roles properly. From this point of view, the judiciary has done a great service to the system. However, the real solution lies in each organ playing its role properly and we hope that they will. In the judicial system, there is a hierarchy starting from the lowest court to the Supreme Court. Of course, the judicial process in general is so slow that justice is often delayed. In many cases it amounts to justice denied. Even if it is not denied, we cannot say for sure that justice is always done by the courts. After all, there is a process of law which is full of lacunas and chances of committing errors are quite high, despite all the good intentions and best efforts on the part of those who are involved in the dispensation of justice. Such errors may be committed at the level of the apex court also but there is no forum to approach thereafter, as far as the mundane world is concerned.
Is this really so ? I had a chance to contemplate over this subject many years back when I was posted as a District Magistrate. One day, a smart young boy came to see me in my office. He was an officer of the Indian Forest Service and came to me in connection with the parole of his father who was in jail, undergoing a life sentence. I had rejected the case on the previous day only in a routine manner because it was not recommended by the relevant officers. The young boy told me that he was going to be married soon and the parole of his father was required for that purpose. He had brought an invitation card of the marriage for my perusal. He also told me that his father was a school teacher and had been implicated falsely in a murder case. They had fought the case up to the High Court but beyond that they could not afford more litigation. I felt sympathetic towards the boy on account of his manners and the purpose for which the parole was sought. Though the case had been rejected, I recalled the file and recorded the new facts brought to my notice. I made a recommendation for release, overruling my previous recommendation and eventually the parole was granted.
Perhaps, the boy and his father felt personally grateful to me. After the marriage was over and the time for going back to jail had come, both of them came to see me to express their gratitude. The father had also brought two books written by him. I do not remember their exact subject but they were a reflection of his inner growth. All this touched me greatly and I felt like hearing the story behind his conviction, which he narrated briefly. On hearing this story, my inner conscience felt that he was really innocent. So I asked him a very personal question, notwithstanding my official position. The question was how he felt about his conviction for life without being guilty, if he was innocent. He gave a very enriching reply which I am sharing here. He said that in the beginning, he had felt very anguished and had questioned the validity of not only the man-made laws but also the divine laws. However, by the grace of God, he soon became contemplative and started accepting reality. Gradually
the acceptance turned into faith. He then felt that all events in life happen under cause and effect laws, which can be called divine laws, and man-made laws were just part of them. While there may be errors in the dispensation of justice through the manmade system, there is no chance of such an error in the dispensation of divine justice. In his case, perhaps, the same thing had happened and his conviction must have been the result of divine justice. Once viewed that way, he was trying to make the best use of the situation for his inner growth.
Very few of us can accept the harsh realities of life so gracefully. However, once the fundamentals of divine laws are understood, the acceptance becomes natural. Then one starts seeing the grace of God even in the seemingly bad events of life. Perhaps, the errors committed by mundane courts is one way of dispensing justice by the Divine court.