We have inherited our civil and criminal justice system from the British. The British naturally gave us the justice system that they knew and worked for them. And this system is based – in large part – on the witnesses being men and women of integrity.
And that is a very precarious assumption to make in the Indian context.
If you would like to know more about what integrity means please visit the link below:
Basically the justice system that the British gave us depends on the players in the game – the police, the witnesses, the lawyers and the judges being people of integrity; that they will not tell lies in court and keep their word even if doing so is not to their advantage.
Here are two quotes from my blog article (link is above):
The first quote:
The importance of keeping your word is derived from the Old Testament which begins with the phrase – “In the beginning was the Word”.
In civilizations which are based on the Bible – like the western countries – I think that the importance of keeping your word comes from this teaching. And it is an excellent teaching that – if followed – will lead to prosperity in whichever nation it is practiced.
The second quote:
Also another fact – India is a predominantly Hindu country. There is much less emphasis on keeping your word here for that reason. In Hinduism – if I am not mistaken – the emphasis is on the fact that the Divine is One but sages speak about it in different ways. Keeping your word is not important for that reason.
So the foundation of the Indian Judicial system is based on a very rickety foundation; a false foundation in fact as for most Indians, keeping their word is not very important.
As opposed to that we have the traditional Chinese way of doing things.
I don’t know where I read this – either it was a James Clavell novel or a book by Alan Watts or Bertrand Russell, but in China, in the past centuries, it was expected that the witnesses who appeared in court would tell lies if it was in their interest to do so. The judge was supposed to see through the lies and come to a proper conclusion.
According to the book I read it was understood and accepted that most people would act solely in their own interest. This is a completely different assumption to the basic one of the Indian Judicial system.
However I do not remember where I read this and do not know if it is really true. I tried searching Google for an article that supports what I have said here but a cursory Google search could not find me one.
But the fact remains that if a judge (in an Indian court) assumes automatically that a witness he does not know is telling the truth then he is likely to be misled. Being a person who keeps his word is not important in India and China because most people there are not Christians, Muslims or Jews for whom keeping their word is important.
So do I have a solution? Actually I don’t.
Maybe some academic studies can be done of the judicial system in China and India in the past centuries before the British arrived. That is the only suggestion I have.
I’ll end here. Please explore this blog for more articles that will interest you and let me have your comments. Feedback from my readers keeps me going.