Of Justice And The Most Favorite Child Of Law
At times we have to pettifog over ‘issues’ to see beyond black and white.
The briefest definition in Black’s Law Dictionary 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 civilizations since aeons. The aforementioned definition was formulated, framed and penned down back in 17th century, yet it has kept its sheen and relevance till the present day. Let us make ourselves a tad bit uncomfortable and ask why a 2000-page heavy tome of sagacity and condensed legal acumen opts for extraordinary brevity when it comes to define the purpose of all laws i.e. justice?
The answer goes like this: all the laws, be they civil or criminal or of any other brand or hue, aim at only one thing, that is justice. The laws are the stairs, or crutches if you find the analogy of stairs a bit too cliched, which assist one to a palace named the ‘Realm of Fairness where just souls dwell’. The legal thinkers of yore thought it best to define an eternal concept like justice as succinctly and as tersely as possible. The rationale behind such utmost briefness certainly paid off in the long run as the definition still brightens one’s brain to grasp the concept in its entirety. These four words ‘fair’, ‘proper’, ‘administration’ and ‘law’, if implemented without being bent towards the mighty and sans prejudice towards the weak, would promise any society an Elysium that fellow godly folks strive to locate in skies and beyond.
Ours is a society where law of the land is used to cut one’s opponent to size and keep one’s head up with this grand feat of one-upmanship. In other words, we use law to deny justice to whosoever we consider a foe.
The unending, always in a flux, downright gooey spectacle of the Terms Of Reference (TORs) formation for Panama Commission resurrected the lawman I hid somewhere far deep in the recesses from where I wished it won’t rear its ugly head again. And that is my postmortem report of the ongoing sad saga of Panamagate TOR formation committee.
In the aftermath of notorious Panama Papers, the boredom-struck opposition, including some who were licking many bruises from a failed dharna and reminiscing about all the attempts to topple government that went awry, was not only leased a new life but also got a joint cause to root for.
Much claims have been pronounced and blames made in the aftermath of so-called Panama Papers by opposition parties. One among them was the formation of a Commission to look into the matter. When government gave its consent, the opposition thundered for the Terms of Reference (TORs) that would delineate the extent of the Commission. When government okayed that, only then came the ulterior intent to the fore that our opposition was aiming for all along, to eliminate the Prime Minister from the power equation. To an observant eye it was clear from the onset that the fuss over TORs was to derail the democratic project by singling out of PM Nawaz and after sending him packing, paving way for new elections. Chanting of the almighty dicta of ‘truth, accountability or justice’ was nothing but a smokescreen to a minus-one setup cleverly devised by the opposition with the backing of powers-that-be.
At the time of writing this column, the seventh round of talks between the opposition and government looks all set to wither and die. The opposition’s monomaniacal demand of narrowing down the scope of the commission to dish out ‘justice’ to the PM before all, slays the very aim that justice seeks to achieve. The commission must weigh, gauge and consider all and sundry with the same eye. The guilty must be punished, but before punishment he must be dealt a ‘fair’ and ‘just’ hand.
Opposition, as the word implies, hankers after what the government has, and that is power, dearest sirs and ma’ams. All over the world, the opposition is defined by the emotions of envy and frustration, and by acts such as nitpicking, protests, hyperbole posing as a serious contender, sloganeering and telling everyone that ‘if’ things were in its hand, the world would be a lot better place for all walks of life.
We, the proud Pakistanis have been deceived long enough. The same script unfurls where the opposition seeks elimination of the government, with the backing of powers-that-be, when the folks we voted in get kicked out. It is never the opposition that takes it place. No, sir. Never.
Our fathers were lulled – by the one who hanged a certain Zulfi Bhutto – with economic prosperity and abundance in their younger days. The price was silence and docility. They remained meek and mum. What they actually got, is what we presently have: a precarious society and a state that no other state finds trustworthy. Beware of the one who snatches what you have on the prospect of what you will get once you part with it.
Dear reader, if you are still reading this long, dull, quasi-academic diatribe of mine, allow me to conclude with a legal maxim that lies at the rock bottom of our current justice system: ‘the accused is the most favorite child of law and every benefit of doubt goes to him.’ Well here we are, folks. The boot-N-league-out-of-the-arena plan seems to lose its legs when one solemnly ponders over the maxim. Ha! Sisters and brethren, I wish thee grand luck with your fight against the most favorite child of law. Farewell and godspeed.
Previously published in Pakistan Today and republished here with permission.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which he might be associated.