- And why the former must never be afraid of the latter
It started almost a decade back when three women brawled over a petty matter, argument escalated and turned ugly, abuses were hurled, voices reached fever pitch, deities were questioned, fingers were pointed at messiahs and prophets and what was an altercation between daughters of Eve snowballed into matter of life and death for millions of sons of Adam.
Homosapiens are stern believers of their exceptionalism. We believe that thousand different languages, countless belief systems, deadly weapons of mass destruction, technology that transcends magic owe their existence to us; we know right from wrong, good from bad, justice from injustice.
We are wrong about the last three feats, dear reader.
Throughout centuries we strived for justice. Our best minds spent their lives defining it. The following excerpt penned down by a dear friend Badar Iqbal in wake of Panamagate verdict gives us a glimpse into how justice was viewed through ages. “Justice, Plato had observed, is a manifestation of ‘what resides in the hearts and souls of citizen’. In William Lloyd Garrison’s America, it was ‘uncompromising’; In DH Lawrence’s England, it was ‘unwavering’; In Cesare Beccaria’s Italy, it was ‘unifying’. For some it is ‘mercy’, for others ‘revenge and retribution’. It may also be ‘impartial’, ‘equal’ or ‘fair’, depending on whom you may ask.”
The briefest definition in Black’s Law Dictionary, the legal tome, is of justice. ‘Fair and proper administration of law,’ is how the most revered, most cited dictionary in the realm of law defines one of the most debated, widely contested ideal that has forged the history of man and defined the structures of many civilisations since eons. The aforementioned definition was formulated, framed and penned down back in 17th century yet it has kept its sheen and relevance till present day. Let us make ourselves a tad bit uncomfortable and ask why a 2,000 pages heavy tome of sagacity and condensed legal acumen opts extraordinary brevity when it came to define the purpose of all laws i.e. justice?
Because ‘fair’ and ‘just’ ‘administration’ of ‘law’ is hardest thing to do amidst sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.
Once again, Justice has proved to the most divisive concept. It has stirred more debate and caused more headaches. Those who know a thing or two about history are aware that fates of countless men, entire kingdoms, many a civilisations perished because they relegated justice to bottomless pits out of fear
Justice is hard to find even though all the laws, be them civil or criminal or of any other brand or hue, aim at only one thing ie Justice. The laws are the stairs or the crutches, if you find the analogy of stairs a bit too cliched, which assist one to a palace named, ‘Realm of Fairness where Just souls dwell’. The legal thinkers of yore thought it best to define an eternal concept like justice as succinctly, as tersely as possible. The rationale behind such utmost briefness certainly paid off in the long run as the definition still brightens one brain to grasp the concept in entirety. These four words ‘fair’, ‘just’, ‘administration’ and ‘law’, if implemented without bent towards the mighty and sans prejudice towards weak, promise any society an Elysium that fellow godly folks strive to locate in skies and beyond.
Our Elysium, however, is held to ransom by true believers, dear reader. They have taken advantage of the fact that Justice in our land had been selective and in service of the powers that be. Having a long, eventful past justice hasn’t aged gracefully. In the beginning, all that was expected of her was to punish the wrongdoer in kind, which it did. In times of Chief Martial Law Administrators it went into exile and was replaced by revenge and/or mercy (depending on what end one found himself). The mood swings of those in power — the Bhuttos, Ayubs, Zias, Musharrafs, Sharifs — primarily defined who’ll be spared and who’ll head to the gallows.
Justice, I solemnly believe, is a result of ancient laws, a child of myth, a product of magic and folklore. While the judges sticked with their precedents, evidence, laws, and maxims. The True Believers, certain of their conviction and sans doubt, wanted them to hang the accused because it was the only right thing to do.
One verdict is out as the fight between Justice vs True Believers continues.
Once again, Justice has proved to the most divisive concept. It has stirred more debate and caused more headaches. Those who know a thing or two about history are aware that fates of countless men, entire kingdoms, many a civilisations perished because they relegated justice to bottomless pits out of fear of True Believers’ wrath. Many others prospered as they revered justice, followed its dicta and knew that under its shadow they can tread on the road that leads to the palace where ‘greater good of all’ is the norm, not a mirage or illusion or an empty promise.
PS: Heartfelt gratitude for judges who made me witness a legal maxim Fiat justitia ruat caelum (Justice be done though heaven may fall) become a reality. Thank you, Lordships.