Money, power and finance have been the subject of discussion in this column before too. This article deals with aspects, though pertaining to the same subject, not in focus hitherto, yet within space limitations.  Vis-à-vis Money, power and finance are shorthand used in many spheres of life — politics, economics, society, democracy and governance.  This [...]

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Money, power and finance vis-à-vis justice, morality and public order


Money, power and finance have been the subject of discussion in this column before too. This article deals with aspects, though pertaining to the same subject, not in focus hitherto, yet within space limitations.  Vis-à-vis

Money, power and finance are shorthand used in many spheres of life — politics, economics, society, democracy and governance.  This phrase emerges just so only within the last two decades.  Justice, morality and public order have, meanwhile, receded well into the background. The question then is whether the same money, power and finance have a debilitating effect on law and order. For abuse in the process in law and order is just where justice, morality and public order may not guide the course of law. But some preliminary explanation of money, power and finance is useful to make the point.

Money, here, is of the takings beyond the expense in the job given. Money drives the need to circumvent somehow the procedure in search of further wellsprings for money flow. Power accrues thus from the proceeds of that money over expense. The buildup of money over expense is thus concomitant. Finance is then from collections over and above the initial expense and the money accumulated to a height well above and unrelated to the original job and expense. Repeated postponements of cases also tell this story.

Money, power and finance in this sense draw down on Justice, Morality and Public order. This untoward development has found expression in various ways.  “Money is the root of all evil,” said the sages. Karl Marx noted that with many, money is their religion. These plaintive bells are ringing even in the area of law and order. This untoward trend in relation to law and order bears closer examination. Manipulation and manoeuvre in the law-making process play through the entrails of this process. With it, exploitation of the means and tactics by way of money, power and finance run through the law-making process. Law and order, thereby, falters alongside. These ideas bear illustration, though only briefly due to space constraints.

Acquittal and discharge order to end a case has now been subjected to much variability. This changing of law for acquittal and discharge is only of very recent incidence. For under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) acquittal of a case compounded stood for nearly two hundred years without change. This acquittal order was covertly removed in 1979 under the umbrella of a new CPC. Under this new law, cases in courts could end with discharge orders.

But then again, in 1989 a change said discharge orders can have effect of acquittal only after a second discharge order etc. An order of Magistrate did not arise. Therefore, parties to the case can work towards a second discharge in collusion! It is known from personal experience that complicity played out since the Magistrate had no role. Manipulation and manoeuvre within this law is more than evident. The public were not in the scene to ask for change.

A Bail Act came in 1997 to cover old provisions for bail which stood for nearly two hundred years. The only ‘new’ stipulation was for an ‘anticipatory bail’ to foreclose arrest.  But ‘anticipatory bail’ has in it much confusion and contradiction. For, ’anticipatory bail’ must anticipate arrest which itself cannot be anticipated except with investigation. Arrest, therefore, cannot be so anticipated. And yet whenever such arrest is made the anticipated bail will apply at that very moment — confusion to the fore. This would even preclude investigation following arrest, since some bail order is confronting. Presumably then anticipatory bail is calculated to interfere with investigation so manipulated and path thus manoeuvred.  The public did not ask for this change.

The 2015 Law for protection of victims and witnesses comes forth, again, after about two hundred years. For this length of time victims and witnesses found protection in courts that any harm brought on them only prejudiced the defence to their detriment. That arrangement stood well for so long, that the need for new law protection was redundant. Why then is this new law in 2015? For in fact harm, if any, on victims and witnesses was at the instance of lawyers in courts. The new law is now to cover over harm to victims and witnesses by the same lawyers now in repeat play, in courts — more money!

In similar vein are special law provisions to ‘safeguard’ lawyers at police stations. These special regulations were endorsed by the Supreme Court and the Attorney General in ‘settlement’, for a rights case filed by a lawyer against an OIC of a police station, alleging harassment to the lawyer. This ‘settlement’ just covered over the issue which brought about the conflict. Space does not permit detailed exposition. Suffice it then to suggest that the lawyer if accompanied by a Buddhist priest had gone to the police station the clash would not have taken place. The difference is then that ‘eloquence’ for money promotes the tension between the lawyer and the police.

Other examples are legion but withheld due to space constraints.

To explain this a little further, a particular set of circumstances that run through these law changes needs to be identified. They constitute the modus operandi which characterises the particular law changes. Firstly, the intended change is brought only under cover, perhaps covertly, of a manipulation within a general law change. Secondly, these limited changes were made at the instance of law professionals wielding power, not due to public outcry. Naturally their manoeuvre within is to suit the vested interests of the powerful. These changes only run counter to the interests of the public and their wellbeing. Thirdly this particular approach to making these law changes nonetheless runs through the Ministry of Justice and Parliament with little question by them as representatives of the public.

Money, power and finance are thus the governing considerations in these recent law changes too. These impulsions contend with Justice, Morality and Public order. Money in the sense noted above has a corrosive and corruptive effect on the latter.  As a result, confidence in the criminal justice system is gradually eroding. Erosion of confidence in the criminal law process is at every stage of the criminal justice process, by each agency of the system. This is a relatively recent phenomenon from about two or three decades ago, though coming silently for quite some time. The reasons for this decline are many and varied.  They cannot be discussed within the limited space.

These matters are raised to create awareness among the people so that the people may persuade their representatives in parliament to lighten this heavy burden cast on them.  It is not a big issue for Parliament. In fact, there is a precedent to follow: The Administration of Justice Law (No.44 of 1973) (AJL). Its objectives were: a.) simplicity and uniformity in procedure, b.) fairness in administration, c.) the elimination of unjustifiable expenses and delay; and d.) the just determination of every judicial proceeding.

This law, needless to say, was people friendly. But alas, with a change of government it was abolished, and it is back to business for the powerful.

All this, in short, is because they do not know the meaning of contentment – the joy of lt.

(The writer is a Retired Senior Police Officer. He can be contacted at; TP 077 44 751 44)


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