Published:  12:51 AM, 14 February 2018

Are all people equal in the eye of law?

Are all people equal in the eye of law?

The lexicon defines laws as body of enacted or customary rules recognized by a community as binding. It further elucidates law as the body of rules by which people live together in society. Laws are formulated in the parliament by the lawmakers in the democratic country and are enforced by government through police and courts. Community cannot live peacefully without the practice of laws because everyone could do as the desires, regardless of others. Wherever more than one person is living, law is necessary for settling possible conflicts in the society.

Nature, where we live in, has its own laws. Law of physics is the dominant factors by which the Universe is governed. Einstein's Theory of Relativity suggesting a universal mathematical equation i.e. E=MC2 governs the laws of physics which is applicable wherever we are within the boundary of our known Universe. Laws of nature or laws of physics whatever we may call it govern all chaotic matter and streamline them to make a cosmos or being orderly. Any major or minor variations in the laws of nature causing chaotic order leads cosmos reverted to chaos for destruction.

Nature makes its own laws by natural phenomena or its right order, while humans make laws for their own civilized governance. Law is born from the womb of civilization. Because of laws, we have the civilization and vice verse. No civilization either ancient, medieval or modern could flourish without implication of laws in its characteristic features. In ancient time, wishes and words of kings were the laws. Later laws grew from decisions by courts and from books in which lawyers wrote what had been learned. Afterwards laws were set down in order to statute books or codes by kings or legislatures. The Romans were the great law makers. Roman laws gradually converted into English laws which are widely practiced in the world including Bangladesh.

It is said that all are equal in the eyes of law in the civilized society irrespective of caste, creed, religion, color, race etc. Is it so in reality? Critics say that law is made by the stronger people to punish and subjugate weaker segment of population particularly in underdeveloped or developing countries.

A sixth century BC Scythian prince Anacharsis said: "Written laws are like spider's webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful." Jungle's rule still prevails in many countries of the underdeveloped world where civilized laws are either trampled under the jackboot of autocrats or does not at all exist. Even in the countries of the developing world all people are not treated equally in the eyes of law.

With petty crimes and corruptions, weaker people are handed down heavy punishment, while the rich and stronger people with committing greater crimes and corruptions melt out through the loopholes of laws. These corrupt people with their money and muscle power rule supreme in the society and in many cases usurp the state power by military muscle or even by winning the support of the gullible people through tricks and machinations in democratic process. Crimes and corruptions are like peanut for them which they commit with a free license in hands under the cover of politics and cheep populist slogans.

With political muscle and power, crimes and corruptions go unabated in a country where different laws are in place, but their proper implications are of far cries. Mighty corrupt people with money and muscle indulging doing mockery with laws, hands of which are theoretically stretches long but, sadly in practice, is too short even to catch the long necks of criminals and corrupt people often walks in disguise in the corridors of laws.

When the corrupt politicians seating in the opposition camp are duly apprehended and brought to justice through the process of laws, then they start clamoring with louder voices and say that they are the victims of political rivalry and vengeance perpetrated by the government and ruling party. With taking benefits of the certain provisions of laws and its practices they subtly indulge in prolonging the dispensation of law for never ending time in order to evade punishments which otherwise they deserve without any doubt for their wrong doing.

When a date comes closer in delivering the verdict of a court case relating to high corruptions and crimes, then the politicians call the press conference and declares in advance pleading his/her's innocence that if he or she is acquitted from the case relating to his/her's corruptions and crimes, then it would be viewed that the justice is done and if convicted then it would be viewed as verdict to have been delivered to please the government of the ruling party.

A corruption case of a very high profile politician who is no less than a two time former prime minister of the country and who was supposed to be the custodian of peoples' trust, stretched long ten years before being recently disposed off with a jail term, paints a dismal picture how a corruption case is delayed for such long time before being disposed off with a verdict, after buying time unduly on different pretexts and lame excuses. After the verdict is recently delivered with a jail term, there has been vociferous outcry painting the verdict as politically motivated. Provision of laws say that even if the verdict of any case goes against the aggrieved person, then there is legal dispensation over the matter and the aggrieved person can go to the higher judiciaries through lodging appeal for justice.

But before following the path of legal procedures, if a responsible (!) spokesman of an aggrieved political party, in a louder voice and vitriolic language gushing form his foul mouth term the verdict as concocted and rejects it with hatred, then does not such abrasive utterances be classified as blatant contempt of court? Legal experts have, of course, the answer to this quarry.

If laws are refined and extended form of humans' commonsense, then the commonsense tells us that such vitriolic and contemptuous utterances are nothing but tantamount to clear contempt of court which is punishable by the provision of existing laws. But unfortunately nothing happens to those desperados and high handed persons for making such contemptuous utterances because of the fact that such high handed persons wear political faces and wish to be treated differently from the rest of the citizens of the country.

The question arises, if a political leader is convicted in a corruption case and lands in the prison, then does he/she still stay eligible for enjoying political impunity? In Bangladesh our 'jail code' ensures preferential treatment known as 'division' to all political leaders in prison irrespective of whether if these political leaders go behind the bar on purely political ground or on being convicted in major corruption cases or on being convicted on other ordinary criminal offences.

British laws formulate 'jail code' making special provisions for political prisoners and other prisoners who are socially accomplished persons in their own domain and are regarded as the voice of the people considering their social status and positions in the public eyes. Question again arises whether prisoners facing incarceration on criminal offence or corruption case garbed in political outfits are still eligible to enjoy special facility reportedly like hotel suit rooms with all luxurious furniture/fixture and electrical gadgets with personal attendants for their comforts within the four wall of prison cell?

A political prisoner is someone imprisoned they have opposed or criticized the government responsible for their imprisonment. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Moulana Bhasani, Nelson Mandela and many more iconic figures of their likes to name were the political prisoner. They did not go to prison on any corruption charges.

They were the voices of the people. If a political figure not duly falling under the category of a defined political prisoner goes behind the bar on being convicted in corruption case, then is such prisoner eligible to enjoy such special facilities within the four walls of jail? If the answer to this question is negative, then it will be deemed that in the eyes of laws all are equal that we have been hearing this rhetoric for ages. If the answer to the above noted same question is affirmative, and then it is deemed that paradoxically all citizens are not equal in the eyes of laws.

In fine, all poor citizens of the Peoples' Republic wish to dream a golden deer and stay equal at least in the eyes of laws in a constitutionally 'egalitarian' and 'secular' State where equality of justice is supposed to prevail. Only God can help us.

The writer is a former civil servant

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