Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Letter For Yesterday

I’d left so long, for so long now
Chasing rainbows and rabbits
A hung guitar and a still smile
How I got here, is always I ask
And if I have forgotten you;
We were simply young
Maybe younger even
But my eyes opened and in daylight
You were all that I could see
And in the singing dusk too

So I keep sayin’ and singin’
‘You’re the one who I never asked
You’re the dream I never had’

Even now I fight
For what I want to see
It’s you still,
Through the grass and the plains
And the games of human chains
You stood close enough
To let me memorize your heartbeat
But not close enough for me

So I keep sayin' and singin'
You’re the one who I never asked
You’re the magic I never had 

In the fine times and the tough
You were the wish I never had
If that chance, I pine,  I’d taken
No one told me you’ll be gone
And that all those were surely a sign
I understand now & I just can't let go
You're the one who I never asked
You’re the Love I never had

Sleepless when I turn into wound
You descend in your satin
You look ditto and known
Kind, gentle and that lily smile
And one hope I fancy
That you’d come knocking
Curlin' your hair and
Twisting your heels by my door
When my lines
Someday will find you

 I keep sayin' and singin'
You're the one I never asked
You’ll always be the best I never had

Sunday, 27 July 2014


‘twas agony chaste
And anguish undeterred
Infinitely aching
And piercing within

Like time ‘twas;
Lacking an inception
And devoid of end.
It just were.

Miscarriage of Justice

 The apparent insufficiency in the sentencing of the offending juvenile in the Nirbhaya case has provoked the hackneyed debates on the strength of juvenile laws of our country. There is pervasive unrest and non reconciliation with the fact that the most brutal perpetrator of the abhorrent offence was sentenced for a period of only three years. First things first. The ire of laymen in the present scenario need not be misdirected towards the Juvenile Justice Board presided over by the Principal Judicial Magistrate, which handed down the sentence to the guilty. This is for the obvious reason that the Board had no room to interpret the sentencing afforded by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act) in any more suitable manner than it has now. In fact the Board has handed down the maximum sentence that the law could afford under the circumstances.  

          I read a reported tweet of Ms. Kiran Bedi stating "Courts need not be mechanical robots. We make laws and then interpret them not to be enslaved but do justice to victims too". While the rhetoric of the statement is by and large not incorrect, it is delusional of one to expect that Courts will enhance the sentencing of any convict beyond what the law enables it to award. This is because the law of our land mandates that penal (criminal) laws are to be interpreted exactly as they are codified since they determine someone's liberty or the taking away of it. The Courts cannot invent or manoeuvre sentencing for a proven criminal to suit popular expectations. It is however another thing that the law itself may be inadequate to dole out an appropriate response of the State against a shocking crime as the one in the present case. In the Nirbhaya case, the juvenile was charged by the investigators, to have been the most barbaric in the gang while committing the heinous crime. It is yet to be ascertained from the Board’s order as to what extent his barbarism has been established as charged. Be that as it may, once the accused has been found guilty, what has added insult to injury is the fact that he was only a few months younger than being eighteen years old, for which the law enabled him to be treated as a juvenile. The circumstances of the 'Nirbhaya' case force one to wonder whether the JJ Act must come to the rescue of such a person who is capable of partaking in a brutal gang rape exhibiting actions of the most diabolic, inhuman and ghastly order, surpassing every perverseness known to adult men. 
             This is where I have a suggestion to make. The Parliament need not completely turn the JJ Act on its head. What it can do is, keeping in mind situations where the accused displays sufficient maturity of action at par with adults, make room in the law for Courts to treat the actions of a juvenile as ones deserving consideration like those of adults. It is well known how the Hon'ble Supreme Court has passed a series of rulings to determine the broad and near exhaustive principles for considering as to whether a death sentence is to be awarded in any particular case. The Legislature of our country must take a leaf from that book and introduce appropriate provision in the JJ Act which would make it possible for Courts to delineate between cases where a juvenile's actions smack of an immature display of choices whilst committing ordinary offences and cases where except for the mere fact that the accused is days away from exceeding his juvenility, there is nothing ordinary about his alleged actions. In other words the law must enable adjudicators to deal differently with juveniles accused of ordinary offences and those accused of heinous crimes. Once such a provision is in place the Courts will have the handle to deal with cases like that of the juvenile in the Nirbhaya case, in an appropriate manner. The Legislature could either enable the Courts to treat the case of the latter category as per the stringency of IPC or the particular provision could also prescribe higher punishment in the JJ Act itself. 

But the discussion would be incomplete without restating of the observations of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the matter as to whether the in case of heinous crimes like murder and rape etc., the juveniles should be tried under normal laws. The Court observed inter alia that :

“If what has come out from the reports of the Crime Records Bureau is true, then the number of crimes committed by juveniles comes to about 2% of the country’s crime rate "
“In recent years, there has been a spurt in criminal activities by adults, but not so by juveniles....In the absence of any proper data, it would not be wise on our part to deviate from the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which represent the collective wisdom of Parliament”

While admitting that there could be exceptions where a child in the age group of sixteen to eighteen may have developed criminal propensities, which would make it virtually impossible for him/her to be reintegrated into mainstream society, the Court said,

“but such examples are not of such proportions as to warrant any change in thinking, since it is probably better to try and re-integrate children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than to allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which does not augur well for the future.”

        In all fairness I must admit that while the observations of the Hon'ble Apex Court are true to the vision and the object of the JJ Act when read with the statistics quoted by it, it would nevertheless be fitting to the need of our times that the Parliament, our apex law making body, took care of the expectations of the victim and his / her family from our judicial process while considering the adequacy of the JJ Act. And in doing so it would do its duty by enhancing the punishment for juvenile offenders, atleast in heinous crimes such as rape and or murder.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Zen Master & The Little Boy

Not for nothing, but the story of the zen master and the little boy needs to be told.

There was a little boy and on his fourteenth birthday he gets a horse and everyone in the village says “Oh how wonderful the boy got a horse”. But the zen master says “we’ll see”. Two years later the boy falls off the horse and breaks his leg and everybody in the village says “How terrible” and the zen master says “we’ll see”. Then a war breaks out and all the young men have to go and fight except for the boy whose leg is broken. Everyone says “how wonderful”. And the zen master still says “we’ll see”.

What can be everlasting ? Least of all a consequence. What can be permanent ? Least of all joy or sorrow. When the chips are down, don’t give in. When there is victory don’t let that ruin your vigilance. There is always a probability of redemption following destruction as there is a prospect of the unforeseen behind familiarity. What can be good; what can be bad. Let’s not judge too soon.

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Idea Of Justice

Reading an article by a respectable fellow writer got me thinking regarding the decision of Hon'ble Supreme Court to stay the execution of the convicts in Nirbhaya's case. While that is the subject, the issue is larger in as much as the idea that such a decision is an unjust one. I have often maintained that there is widespread misconception about why certain verdicts are passed by our judiciary albeit those misconceptions arise from justifiable grounds. Add to that the fuel of media speculation and sensationalism and what we get is a whole gamut of notions regarding our justice delivery system. 

I will make myself very clear at the outset that I personally believe that there should be utmost speed in disposing the petitions of the convicts in Nirbhaya case considering the nature and gravity of the crime. The Delhi High Court has found all of them guilty and awarded them death sentences concluding that their crime falls in the 'rarest of rare' category as is required by our law for award of death penalty. Therefore this case needs to be decided as early as possible without any delay.

Now coming to the larger issue of allowing the stay, I shall suspend my prejudices and biases and my sentiments which is the same as millions of Indians and citizens of this country, which seethes with anger and abhorrence  against the ghastly crimes committed against women and on those who committed them, and dispassionately consider the matter. To begin with I must convey that every Court, be it the most rudimentary or as high as the Supreme Court, has to maintain parity and fairness in hearing all sides which approach it. Now staying the execution of a sentence is not as final as it may seem. It only means that the Court has allowed the convicts to present their last arguments before executing their sentences. By all means, to my mind, this is fairness and parity. The immediate response which I can sense would be what about parity for victims. True. There is indeed parity for everyone, the accused, the victims, the society as whole in the decision to stay the execution. I'll explain it.

The perpetrators of Nirbhaya gangrape have been found guilty by successive Courts and in all likelihood they would be so found by the Supreme Court. But how can the same be concluded unless Supreme Court reaches its own conclusions upon hearing arguments advanced before it. I mean isn’t that the fundamental principle of our country’s democratic process. There is a very famous maxim 'audi alteram partem' which means that no one shall be condemned without a hearing. I agree sometimes it may not seem proper. But the biggest redeeming characteristic about a just and democratic country is that its judiciary is above popular influences. While every intuition of a Hon'ble Judge may be commanding him to send these men to gallows, but true to his oath he must serve the rule of law and allow every person howsoever infamous or hated, the valuable rights that our Constitution grants him. The right of a fair hearing and all facilities to prove his innocence or disprove his guilt. We are the country that allowed Kasab every right that is there for an accused. While I agree that my blood boils, upon knowledge of the fact that he lived for so long after his abominable acts, yet I cannot let my passions dictate my judgment in the chair of a Court. I am confident all persons of experience and understanding will surely appreciate this fact. 

It is difficult and even not wise to decide what happens in a Courtroom based on what we read in newspapers or see in TV. Most of the times I have seen what appears as very obvious turns out to be stunningly fallacious after peeling a few layers of truth in Courtrooms. I have seen admissions of false prosecutions being elicited from capricious self proclaimed victims even in open and shut cases. I speak from experience and therefore wish to convey that it is for such risks that law allows great deal of opportunity to accused persons to demolish the case of the prosecution. The burden of proving the guilt is therefore always on the person who makes an allegation and not vice versa. This is the same judiciary that stood as an unshakeable sentinel of our fundamental rights when the power mongering executive attempted to usurp them. Ours is the judiciary which gave us Polluter Pays principle as one of the vanguard principles of environment protection while not thwarting development. Ours is the judiciary which gave us Maneka Gandhi decision, Keshavananda Bharati judgment declaring that our fundamental rights cannot be taken away or altered in any manner by the Parliament in the dark days of emergency. Its innovation has been amply evidenced in its judgments to protect our rights from arbitrary invasion of power when it has propounded several doctrines like right to livelihood, right to privacy, right to pollution free environment, right against arbitrary arrest and so on so forth. In all fairness, we have to be very careful before writing off the judiciary. I know that our laws are heavily inclined in favour of the accused rather than the victim. But trust me, there are quite a substantial number of laws too which are meant to redress great injuries suffered by victims. The only reason why the law allows sufficient leverage for accused persons in disproving their guilt or proving their innocence is because history, full of ruthless instances of abuse of power, has taught us to proceed with presumption that "every person is innocent till his guilt is proven to the hilt". 

There is another aspect of adjudication which is often raised with concern. It is the alleged inability of Courts to fairly or sufficiently punish the perpetrators of horrific crimes. I agree that Courts should be innovative and must apply their minds to cases and punishment must fit the crime.  But what is most important to understand here is that Courts enjoy no room for innovative sentencing against criminals and that they must punish as much as law allows them to. I''ll elucidate by an example. Hit and run cases which result in death of the victim are ordinarily tried under Section 304 A of IPC. Now as unrealistic as it may sound. The punishment prescribed for the offender is only 2 years and it is a bailable offence.   It is our law that when it comes to criminal cases and application of penal laws, the Judges do not enjoy the liberty of twisting or bending the interpretation to suit the expectations of a victim. This is because the settled law of our land is that since successful proof of crime would end in deprivation of life and liberty of a person (the accused), the Judges must follow the law exactly as it is. There remains no room for innovative interpretation as there is perhaps in case of non criminal cases. Hence where the victim of a hit and run case has died the offender ordinarily is liable for maximum 2 years of punishment. Courts cannot increase the punishment on their own. In this view of the matter isn't the ire against the Courts for insufficient punishment misdirected ? It is the Parliament that can amend the law and suit it upto public expectations. The Courts cannot do it. This was the handicap of the Court which tried the juvenile offender in the Nirbhaya case. Which is why, he being charged as the most barbaric of the gang that night, could only be sentenced for a period of 3 years.  As that was the maximum prescribed punishment.

I share my countrymen's anguish and anger as a citizen upon what is happening to perpetrators of crimes on women. My heart bleeds too. But I dissociate myself from pervasive inclination to turn over the system on its head and adopt street justice. But I would always prefer rule of law to prevail over populist sentiments even in face of overwhelming temptations to discard it. If our cherished democratic ideals were to survive, then as a nation we must endure our collective tendencies to disregard rule of law and sacred principles that form its bedrock. Now, at times more often than not, circumstances would have us lose faith in the structures of democracy, where they would become the very reason of impatience and frustration. This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. We, for the hopes of our land's founding fathers and for sake of our future generations, must preserve our faith and belief in those structures. We as a nation must withstand the tremendous disenchantment that we are likely to suffer for the way democracy is abused. The idea is to preserve it and not give it away in face of such bitterness. We must survive every tendency towards degenerating into an anarchy. That is the only way the right idea of justice shall prevail in the end.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Are We Truly Masters Of Our Fate ?

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‘there’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
 rough - hew them how we will’
                         -         Hamlet to Horatio,  (Hamlet, Act V, Scene II)

I do not mean to displace the fact that when it comes to the topic of fate and destiny, we all have our own things to believe and say. And those things are based on our own experiences in life. I however intend to only share my beliefs regarding matters of fate and destiny and how inextricably they have always been knotted in my life. I will vehemently oppose being called regressive or backward because of my belief in fate. My endorsement of fate may not be seen as advocacy for superstition. The two are mutually exclusive though often perceived to be one and same. Superstition involves expectation of a definite result in a certain situations again and again time after time, fate alters and varies and remains unpredictable; while the former breeds fear the latter inspires awe and humility.

When Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India was a Professor, years before he became President, Cheiro had predicted upon looking at his palm lines that he would become head of state but would lose his mind towards his end. Ridiculed and laughed off as a family joke, the prophecy came true one by one. Many of us, I’m sure, have had a chance to experience the unpredictable actually occurring by stroke of destiny. I will share a more personal experience. My cousin often whiles away his precious time with a gang of his mates, not much differently than adolescents of his age. He and his pals often travel to Puri from Bhubaneswar to indulge. There is this ritual, when every time he starts out, my aunt denies. He never listens to her and goes anyway, which I believe is because of the tacit support he enjoys from his father, my uncle, who loves him dearly and never prohibits him from relishing life. In one similar occasion my uncle got involved and was startlingly adamant in his denial to let him go with his friends that afternoon. My cousin cried, pleaded and even got argumentative, but uncle was rigid. It was an unusual scenario. He is usually soft on him, but that day he was someone else. I watched his demeanor change as if he was possessed. Like some force was dictating his rigidity. Later that evening we got informed of the car crash in which my brother’s friends travelled to Puri, one in which he was supposed to travel. All of them landed in hospital with broken bones and shattered limbs. What could explain my uncle’s stubbornness? A calm man, accommodative, generous, supportive of his son’s ways, suddenly turns totally inflexible. That was what saved my cousin. Providence, to me, was at work that afternoon, to save my brother. I never asked my uncle what made him stop my cousin. I wonder what would be his answer. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he simply says “I don’t know”. It’s natural to not know the ways of fate and the modus in which it works its tricks.

To me my inner voice has always been my companion since dawn of reason in me. I have always felt it emanate from the depths of my will and guide me in my course. By its very nature, it neither pays heed to exterior influences nor to counter - logic. It is servile to a certain strong ethereal purpose unbending even in face of overwhelming rationale and argument. I have often encountered disagreement of peers against my perception of fate and its role in our lives. The ordinary opposition is phrased mostly as “that’s pure superstition” and the not so ordinary as “what science can’t explain does not exist”. Well, I never claim that we are capable of knowing all what exists. Things exist beyond our knowing. Under our eyes, immune to our senses, invisible to our sight. Yet felt in the most utterly prominent fashion in moments when it matters, just like that afternoon, how my uncle must have felt when he turned aggressive and unorthodox. Instead of rejecting things that cannot be explained I have always humbly surrendered to their awe. Their inexplicability does not make them cheap rather they become forces worth reckoning.

In all the wholesome determining of life and its course, there is already a plan, to which one has no choice but to fit. As defeated as this may sound to zealous go getters, its infallibility yet remains to be challenged. I do not say that men are born bereft of independence or that free will is a myth. We do own our wills. But there is only an extent to which we can actually exercise it. Admitting my lack of competence to eloquently explain my idea, I’ll borrow Pandit Nehru’s words. He was once asked by Norman Cousins, the doyen of American journalists and a reputed writer, “How do you reconcile free will and destiny ?” Pandit ji answered “Both have a place in our life. The best analog one can think of is to compare life with a game of bridge. The cards dealt to you are out of your control, but the way you play your hand is your free will. Given a good hand, you can still mess up the game and vice versa”. There could not be a more perfect elucidation of the interaction between man’s will and his fate. So are the words of Hamlet quoted above.  Shakespeare tells us through Hamlet how God has a plan for us as much as we might criticize it, protest against it, or try to dodge it. I personally interpret this line as one giving me comfort in times of great stress or pain.

For, I have, in my short life so far, realized with firm conclusion that what I want I may not achieve and what I have achieved may not be what I may have actually wanted. I have in unusual number of instances, ended up wanting things which are beyond my scope of achievement. I have endured agonizing pain trying to escape my desire and craving for things I cannot get. And yet the moment I have given up wanting them, providence offered most of those to me. Sometimes I wonder if my not wanting things which I really desire would get me those. I had given up on the idea of love, for example, owing to my experiences during my younger days. Now when I have actually found that one woman, my soulmate, when I feel earth and heaven move, when I feel being held by her like gravity, I realize that it is perhaps too late. I am now in another era, in another dimension beyond her, beyond myself, stripped of my free will to pursue her affections, without risking anguish for others. Without her I’m certain to live my life with a gigantic vacuum in it, a place which will remain reserved for her never to be filled, never to be occupied, like I know I’ll die with regret of not having spent my life with her, the one I truly love. The point I am trying to make is that, when all I ever cared and sought was true love and bonding, I got dejected to the point of giving up. I had then exercised my free will to try and get love but it was my fate not to ever get it. As it was my fate to give in to circumstances and reconcile to the assumption that I am perhaps destined to live with a girl my family chooses. When fate decided to grant me bliss of love, I had already packed my bag and travelled far ahead. I thought I had convinced myself that love is a bygone reality, an unlivable dream. I had to find whatever of it I could find in the life I lived now. And it’s ok if it does not turn out to be what I had read in books and dreamt of living. I believed I had successfully persuaded myself to accept that I must only be devoted to lives that are tied with mine.  But so immovable is destiny's hand that no matter what one does, the tricks he employs to evade his fate, he often ends up running into it on the path he takes to avoid it. It's inescapable. I now find myself fated to choose between my dream and my reality.

Believing or not is entirely upto the person who is supposed to experience the influence of fate. He may choose not to. But sooner than later, he is bound to grant a thought in favour of its existence. Perhaps what I have shared has been suitably put in words by  Dr. Johnson in The Oxford Book of The Supernatural. He writes “all argument is against it, but all belief is for it.” 

Saturday, 12 July 2014


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Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature, with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others”….

A king’s brother murders him, marries his queen and seizes his throne. The slain emperor’s son returns for revenge. That’s how thematically basic and yet how forceful is Hamlet’s (Haider’s) story. When I watched Irfan Khan starrer - Bharadwaj directed Maqbool (adaptation of Macbeth), I had secretly wished Vishal to adapt all famous plays of Shakespeare. Having grown up reading “Merchant of Venice”, “Romeo & Juliet”, “King Lear”, and “Othello”, I was always destined to fall for the remarkably accurate versions of William Shakespeare’s plays, which I saw in Vishal’s direction. He has been answering my wish with Omkara (Othello) and now Haider (Hamlet). Oh ! the so famous dilemma, “to be or not to be”.

Bharadwaj’s adaptations run with the exact amount of realism and dark sarcasm which blend to leave an indelible impression on the mind. Their strength lies in their complete lack of pretension and grandeur. A necessary relinquishment in order to convey the minutest of human despicability, with the requisite deal of unabashedness. Revenge, ambition, lust, conspiracy, betrayal, jealousy, the list is endless and yet all portrayed with immaculate precision in his adaptations.  The beauty of his depictions lie in the fact that they never give up the essence of human vices despite a consistent risk of rejection.

One recalls that murky chilled night, when a ghost walks the battlements of Elsinore Castle in Denmark. Discovered first by a pair of watchmen, then by the scholar Horatio, the ghost resembles the recently deceased King Hamlet, whose brother Claudius has inherited the throne and married the king’s widow, Queen Gertrude. When Horatio and the watchmen bring Prince Hamlet, the son of Gertrude and the dead king, to see the ghost, it speaks to him, declaring ominously that it is his father’s spirit, and that he was murdered by none other than Claudius. He asks Hamlet to avenge his murder. He asks him to finish Claudius who usurped his throne and married his wife, the ghost disappears with the dawn. The opening lines of the trailer resonate with that pathos “Haider…take my revenge from my brother. Rid his eyes with bullets, which he used to deceive your mother”

Hamlet’s theme and characterization are perhaps the deepest in the history of literature.  Indulging readers in dramatization of the complex philosophical and ethical issues that surround cold-blooded murder, calculated revenge, and thwarted desire. This is the same play where you’ll hear Shakespeare’s famous line of dilemma “to be or not to be” To be, or not to be, that is the question— Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? This is where Hamlet bemoans the injustice of life and contemplates death or suicide. You’ll see a glimpse of Shahid Kapur performing the historic scene in the trailer. The cast is glorious as it is glitzy. With Irfan Khan, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shahid Kapur, Shraddha Kapur the performances are sure to make the film what it ought to be, strong. The film is likely to be remembered for the political message embedded in it, haunt because of the portrayal of human depravity  and challenge with its depiction of sexual conflict.

Watch the trailer..

Don't miss the movie on 2.10.14. It is hard to ignore the irony in the choice of Haider's release date. A film depicting the shallowness of soul and evils of human nature will premiere on Gandhi Jayanti. I believe the equally significant point as the irony is the unmistakable similarity in the element of awe that is evoked by such choice as it is by virtue of the darkness of the theme. 

There's nothing more sanctimonious in any democracy than the freedom of speech and expression. But we must understand that like any other freedom, it too is not absolute and it is subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions. When liberty is accorded to subjects of a nation, it is never purported while so according, that the said liberty will be wildly asserted in disregard to other conflicting freedoms. I'll elucidate this by saying that if each pedestrian begins to claim that "since I've the liberty to walk, nothing can stop me", there will be an endless traffic jam. Similarly while exercising our right to freedom of expression and speech, we have to be aware, only ofcourse, if we are claiming to be law abiding citizens, whether such exercise does in any manner sabotage sacred principles of governance and rule of law. The news channels appear to be mostly forgetful of this caution. There is this non stop rant about matters which are gravely connected to under trial issues. It is high time to apprise everyone about the dangers of prejudice and an unwarranted barrage of speculations and opinions about a particular issue, especially those which are sub judice.... 

I'm aware of that philosophy too and I support the freedom of press. But unfortunately Pandit Nehru did not foresee the danger involved in the ‘administration of justice’ which is the very essence of the natural justice and the rule of law or rather he would not have expected the press to get involved into something which is beyond its limit and ethics too. I read a beautiful article on this topic the other day where the author has written on how the media has now reincarnated itself into a ‘public court’ (Janta Adalat), and thereby latently interfering with court proceedings. It completely overlooks the vital gap between an accused and a convict keeping at stake the golden principles of ‘presumption of innocence until proven guilty’ and ‘guilt beyond reasonable doubt’. Now, what we observe is media trial where the media itself does a separate investigation, builds a public opinion against the accused even before the court takes cognizance of the case. By this way, it prejudices the public and sometimes even judges and as a result the accused, that should be assumed innocent, is presumed as a criminal leaving all his rights and liberty unredressed. If excessive publicity in the media about a suspect or an accused before trial prejudices a fair trial or or results in characterizing him as a person who had indeed committed the crime, it amounts to undue interference with the “administration of justice”, calling for proceedings for contempt of court against the media. Unfortunately, rules designed to regulate journalistic conduct are inadequate to prevent the encroachment of civil rights. What is even more outrageous is that sometimes news channels invite the lawyers who represent these accused persons and grill them on questions pertaining to their professional ethics as to how could they take up the case of such a  person, who according to the media is already guilty. They even induce an analysis of the evidence available against that accused, an act which is grossly unwarranted from the media.
There's nothing more sanctimonious in any democracy than the freedom of speech and expression. But we must understand that like any other freedom, it too is not absolute and it is subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions. When liberty is accorded to subjects of a nation, it is never purported while so according, that the said liberty will be wildly asserted in disregard to other conflicting freedoms. I'll elucidate this by saying that if each pedestrian begins to claim that "since I've the liberty to walk, nothing can stop me", there will be an endless traffic jam. Similarly while exercising our right to freedom of expression and speech, we have to be aware, only ofcourse, if we are claiming to be law abiding citizens, whether such exercise does in any manner sabotage sacred principles of governance and rule of law. The news channels appear to be mostly forgetful of this caution. There is this non stop rant about matters which are gravely connected to under trial issues. It is high time to apprise everyone about the dangers of prejudice and an unwarranted barrage of speculations and opinions about a particular issue, especially those which are sub judice.... 


To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

                  -             Sean O'Connell in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Life is often about wrong turns. Turns that lead us to the untreaded path. That let us be lost. So that we can find our own adventure. Discover ourselves in the process. Nobody ever said life would be easy. They only promised it would be worth it. Once a great man said that life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived. See through the black and white of life. Reach the grey. Feel it, embrace it. It might prick you, or worse even, it might hurt you badly. But that's the point to it all. Getting hurt so that we know the taste of pain so that we respect and value pleasure. Let life give you what it wants. Take it. There's a purpose to it all.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Choices, Chances, Changes...Love, Life..

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It has taken me a bucketful instances of having my heart broken and breaking hearts, a half life of mistakes, a tough marriage and an enviable assortment of life's lessons to know what I know of love and life today. What is it that binds one immortally to another ? Can anyone be bound immortally to another ? It's a question that even the ones who are thus bound fall short in answering sufficiently. It could perhaps be science of hormones and blood or could be beyond mortal explanations. The truth is that it's a feeling, fundamental, rudimentary and deep rooted in the purpose of human life. A joy not containable within definitions and a sensation not explained by commonplace phrases. A perpetual state of agonizing bliss. You are likely to burn holding it and sure to die cold letting it go. The mysteries of love are attractive only if left unexplained. I do not wish to seize the mantle of defining and explaining love and its myriad forms. I am only trying to share its mysteriousness from my unique life experiences and in doing so none of my words should be considered as binding. For the beauty of love lies in the room for exceptions it offers. A hundred lovers may have similarly felt about a particular aspect of it yet the next lover's feeling will hold equal significance and value and cannot be derided just because it does not fall in line with majority. That's how broad and all encompassing love is.


The path of man's life is determined by his choices. It isn't different in love. But it’s often mistaken that falling in love is a choice that can be exercised upon one's volition. However the truth unchangeably remains that no one knows how, when, where and in what strength love and its myriad forces will take you in their numbing grip and make you servile to their puppetry. My words should not be understood as demeaning the essence and splendor of the emotion. I am no one to judge it even though I have savoured and suffered the consequences of love. Love is compelling. It is persuasive beyond anything known to human mind. It is why one often finds himself making choices in the ‘other way’ in love. Interestingly when it comes to falling in love, one hardly has any choice. But to continue a relationship actively in love is to a considerable extent in ambit of personal choice. I admit, it isn’t black and white. There is grey where you often stand in making choices in love. Your choices ensure the pleasure or pain that you derive from it. Never make a choice against your love if you have the chance. For there is no greater beauty than being truly loved by someone. Make all choices that ensure its perpetuation. The things which you may have to give up in choosing love, are nothing compared to what you will relinquish if you lose love. A wrong choice, seemingly correct at the time of its making, can haunt you with unbearable anguish all your life. And the only way of knowing whether the lasting effect of your choice is bearable or not is by consulting your instinct at the time of making the choice. Instincts may not always guide you pragmatically but they guide you to your destination more often than not. You realize you were correct only when you have endured the challenges and landed at the end of the road. Until then and unless you take that road of instinct you will never realize the worth of your choice. Trust me, when you are living the ache of bereavement from the one who holds your joys, no deal of pragmatism can liberate you. You will suffer endlessly.


We all get our chances; our own shots at our dreams, our contentment, our happiness. But in every chance lies a hidden offer of life, of mistrust and self doubt. Don’t let it append to you. A chance is always a chance not a cloaked scope of error. Trust in it. Trust your guts. And take it. Unless you take the road you fear you would never overcome that fear. Give in. Surrender wholly. Don’t reserve any shred of yourself when you do that. Chances are like these small windows to living your purpose. They ought to be seized at first sight. There is always someone waiting to seize it. If you don’t they would. I have learned it the hard way and continue to live the consequences of untaken chances. Believe me, it’s better to live a life full of challenges and difficulties with the chances you want to live with than lead a life of regret in misery and lament with the ones you may be comfortable but not ecstatic with. Life is itself a single big chance for fulfillment. That fulfillment may either come from dedication in service of others or by accomplishment of personal desires. There’s no point, no greatness in a sacrifice if you can’t live with the consequences of it. It is self destructive to forfeit your joys for the sake of others if you are going to be miserable in the circumstances that follow your sacrifice. You will neither end up happy nor be able to keep happy those for whom you would be in that state.

Love is a chance at eternal bliss. I reiterate a very famous line which says “Never be cynical about love for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass”. When I recall my days spent wrapped in that emotion, I wholeheartedly agree with the great man who uttered these words. It is something else, a joy so serene and satisfying to sleep and wake up in realization of being truly loved by someone. Nothing compares, nothing can even come close to that pleasure. The whole gamut of accomplishments and laurels in your life will feel like mere dust if you have loved and lost it. The whole galaxy of joys cannot surpass the simplest delight that love is capable of filling your heart with. I can tell you with the highest of confidence, since I have lived that truth. We didn’t agree on many things. Sometimes it felt as if we didn’t agree at all. But when we did, it felt like being born for each other. Despite all the hurdles, differences, anguish, the only and the greatest leveler was that we were crazy for each other. That kind of evened everything odd. That common factor between us surprisingly sorted out every challenge we faced.

I endorse love despite my confession of pain which I endured in it because the truth is that it also offered me all, perhaps the only real pleasure of my life. And I was either weak, unsure, careless or scared to take the chance. Interestingly when it stands facing you on your threshold such debilitating is its influence that the more you try to evade the harder you feel its grasp around you. If you are destined to fall for someone with all heart, you will fall and all the will power mustered from the deepest of one's guts against it cannot prevent it. Once you do, take the chance and stand up for your love. The other way is undoubtedly settled and easy. But trust me, the inimitable delight and completeness walking on that difficult path of love would bring will heal all wounds the world will inflict. It will be the most sacred refuge when you have been abandoned by all and sundry. Her arms will comfort you like you cannot even begin to imagine. Take the chance, seize it, there may not be another chance, again.


Man by nature is a lover of status quo. We despise changes being shoved into our faces. We are a breed unaccustomed to being unsettled. Ironically however, as the hackneyed adage goes ‘the only thing constant in this world is change’. Everything we see and know, every entity created, is in a constant state of efflux from one status to another. As if that thing was created to change, and keep changing till its closure. Everything that ever began must end, and to end, it undergoes all changes possible in its lifetime. Instead of asking you to manoeuvre change, I’d rather beseech you to walk into the change. Why wait for something to happen when you know it’s going to occur anyway and why then make plans and strategies to evade it. Step into it. Embrace it. Love it. Mark the goodness it brings along. I will not join masses who ask you to let go of the past. Rather I ask you to hold its memories and enlighten your soul. But do not close yourself to the present and the future. No one, believe me, no one has any control on the course of his life, no matter howsoever otherwise one may believe. Howsoever otherwise the best selling self help books may tempt you to accept as true. At some point in time or other you would eventually realize that you cannot exercise any real power or influence over circumstances. And they occur and change as per some invisible yet all pervasive force guiding their course. But the beauty of this powerlessness lies in the sense of adventure and unpredictability it brings. I have let go of things I never thought I could. They were so dear to me. But I had to. I pined and languished for days, holding on to their symbols, their reminiscence their memories, suffering, falling, lying near dead for days. But eventually there is some supreme energy that settles inside you momentarily and ushers you out into the light. Into that moment of truth when you smile inside and come to terms with everything unmanageable so far. I am not saying the past is darkness. To me the past has always been full of sunlight, joy and incomparable delight as much as it has been the source of inescapable distress. The whole idea behind the philosophy of letting the past go may be unnecessary. You may not need to let go of the past. The past and the future alongwith your present can co exist. Give the three of them a chance. I have and I always will. If I could in all ordinariness, why can’t anyone. Let the change come over. Take in its gifts. Surrender gracefully what it wants to take from you. Life is a great leveller; if it takes it would give back likewise. Release the murkiness, let it sink in and do its job and leave. Do not hold onto the pain. It’s leech like. The more time you give your miseries the more they will grow on you, feeding on your blood and life. Smile and wave adieu to your woes and hug the happiness that also lies hidden somewhere in the mud.

No one knows how things would turn out to be. But that is the whole point of life. Take the wrong turn, get lost, find your way back, endure the challenges on way and emerge enlightened. The only treasure that is ever going to be with you even after your departure are not the ornaments or the wealth you discovered, but the experiences that enriched your life, the fulfillment you felt on your journey and the memories you would earn in the heart of others. Life is like this. It is not a problem to be solved; rather all its choices, chances and changes make it a mystery to be lived.

Live it..

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Law & Morality

Consider these situations.

Situations 1:-

You are driving a car which loses its brakes and on one hand you have a choice of crashing it on five persons and killing them instantly and on the other running over one man and killing him. I’m assuming that the choice would be near unanimous to run over one person and save five.

Situation 2:-

You’re a bystander on a road where a car, whose brakes have failed, is hurtling at 5 men. You could save those 5 men by pushing one innocent man, standing with you, on its path and stopping it. Surely that one man would die but it would save five lives. Would the principle of five lives versus one as in Situation 1, apply here too??

Need it be said further that the morality of any act is often considered to be located in the consequences of it. The state of affairs that would be the end result of one’s act. At the inception of my career I often encountered this nagging query concerning the relation between law and morality. I was frustrated on quite a few occasions where I'd helplessly discover that a certain immoral deed is without any legal consequence. I would seethe with anger at the lack of any remedy for the victim in such cases. To an untrained mind there would hardly exist any difference between the two concepts.   However, while morality may be persuasive, it isn't binding, law is. Hence a person may get away with an immoral deed but he can't do so with an illegal act. . Human response to a wrongful action should be the same irrespective whether it breaks a law or it disregards morality. This theory logically entails a comprehensive understanding of the two terms. But do we actually understand their meanings and respective scopes to be able to appreciate the fine yet profound difference between the two. Before proceeding let me tell you that I decided to share my views on this issue when I read the opinion of one my esteemed readers, wherefrom it appeared that despite his respectable understanding of sociology and politics, he faltered in distinguishing the difference between law and morality.

In one not so old case the Hon'ble Apex Court was seized with a question as to whether a man who promises to marry a woman, cohabits with her and establishes sexual relationship with her but could not ultimately marry her, be charged and convicted under Section 493 of the IPC. (For your benefit I have represented Section 493, IPC as it stands) " Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage.—Every man who by deceit causes any woman who is not lawfully married to him to believe that she is lawfully married to him and to cohabit or have sexual intercourse with him in that belief, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine." The Bench which was adjudicating this case was a Division Bench (two Judges). The matter could not be resolved as one of the Hon'ble Judges thought that in such cases, what the man may have done may at worst be called immoral or it may be concluded that he isn't a gentleman, if deceit could not be proved behind his acts, whereas the other Hon'ble Judge thought otherwise and found nothing wrong in attaching criminal consequences with such acts. The matter was thus referred to a larger bench for adjudication. Be that as it may, the point which is thus instantly realized is that law and morality are not the same thing even though the fabric of our society is built upon these two founding stones.  In ancient times there was hardly any difference between the two. Be it the jurists of Greece or Rome or our very own Vedas, morals formed the bedrock of laws. In later years, law would come to be distinguished from morals. The chief distinction being their respective sources. While morals have their genesis in religion and / or conscience, laws owe their authority to the State. Law focuses mainly on the society and lays down rules concerning the relationship of individuals inter se as well as with the State." It is therefore quite clear that while morality is based on the behaviour, conscience building and goodness of deeds, law on the other hand deals with enforceable norms that mainly intend to maintain order and peace in the community of men. While laws are means to an end (of peace in society), morals are of no such nature. They are to be followed as they are good in themselves.

While it may be immoral to see a man drowning and not help him, to see a beggar starving and not feed him, to see a man falling down and badly injuring himself and not taking him to medical help or to look on at a woman being harassed and standing mute, there is nothing illegal per se about these actions / omissions. For an act or omission to be illegal, it must be prescribed to be so by law. If it isn't then that act or omission howsoever despicable or immoral it may be, does not involve any illegality. There are even certain laws which are opposed to morals. For example morals will never hold any man vicariously liable for the wrongful acts of another man, but the law does, in cases where the actual offender is under the employment or agency of the other man who is vicariously liable. e.g. A Govt. chauffeur if causes death of someone by negligent driving, then the Govt. can be made liable for his acts and ordered to pay compensation to the victim or his family.

So are we to conclude that law and morality are completely divorced from each other ?