I must be missing something. The SC just granted Jayalalitha bail. Yes, yes I know this doesn’t mean she’s off the hook. But hey – can you blame me for wondering how long it’s going to be before she’s back in again? Let’s see. Last time, it took a good 18 years for the case against her to be proven. All things being equal, you would think that it would take at least a year or two for her bail applications to meander through the High Courts and Supreme Court right?
In the record time of 20 days, Jayalalitha’s bail application has passed through not one, but two courts! This wouldn’t really bother me, but for one teensy-weensy fact. Lakhs upon lakhs of undertrials are languishing in Indian jails without even a conviction! Huge numbers of people have spent more time in jail waiting for a trial than they would have spent had they been convicted in the first place. Let me place these two side by side:
- Person convicted of massive corruption gets bail in 20 days
- Person not convicted of anything spends years upon years in jail
Now we all know that money talks – but come on. It’s not supposed to be this bad. I’ll leave the question of whether or not Jayalalitha deserves bail on the table for now. But we all know that if it took 18 years for a conviction in a lower court, she can delay the case from proceeding for another 18 years. And then another bail application while she fights it in the Supreme Court. By that time, no one is alive anymore.
India’s justice system is broken and dysfunctional. Duh. It works from time to time but more often, incidents like this lay bare the bullshit claim that all citizens are equal. We need more judges – a lot more. We need more courts – a lot more. And finally, we need free legal representation for those who cannot afford it for themselves.
You know how in Hollywood movies before arresting someone they read out their rights and say “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you”? That’s what it will take to clear out of our prison system the hapless people who have never even faced a judge. Till that time, those who have enough money and clout to push through bail applications to two top courts in a matter of days will never face the music for their crimes. While those who do not, will rot there forever.