Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta
Last Updated: December 29, 2022, 23:25 IST
Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madras High Court on Wednesday said that Article 72 of the Constitution and section 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which pertain to remission or suspension of the sentence of convicts, have their “basis in the Valmiki Ramayana” itself.
The judge illustrated how in one “beautiful passage” in Valmiki Ramayana where Hanuman goes to bring back Sita after the end of the war and out of rage seeks Sita’s permission to kill all the Rakshasis who tormented her, Sita tells him a story of a bear, a man, and a tiger and says that “one’s behaviour should not be conditioned by one’s tormentor and even if one’s tormentors deserve the death sentence, they can be forgiven”.
The judge recalled the passage while referring to the recent release of the six life-term convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case by the Supreme Court. The convicts were originally given capital punishment, then the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and around 30 years later, the top court allowed them to go.
The judge said that when one of those convicts later spoke as a star speaker in a seminar in Chennai, many felt disappointed including him, but when he read the above-mentioned passage in Valmiki Ramayana, he was able to come to terms with the release of the convicts.
Speaking at the 16th National Conference of Akhil Bharatiya Adhivaktha Parishad at Kurukshetra University, Haryana, the judge said this passage and the provision of remission tell us what it means when anyone talks about “Bharatiya Jurisprudence”.
Justice Swaminathan referred to Justice Abdul Nazeer’s speech at Adhivakta Parishad’s earlier conference at Hyderabad also in which he had said that the Indian judiciary should be decolonised and we should go back to our roots. The judge said that while saying so, Justice Nazeer actually meant this kind of “Bharatiya Jurisprudence”.
“But then that speech invited such strong reactions from the so-called ‘liberal left’. Even one person went to the extent of saying that Justice Nazeer breached his constitutional oath,” he said.
He also mentioned an article that was written in response to Justice Nazeer’s speech with the headline “Objection, Your Honour”. The judge said to everyone present in the audience: “We have gathered here to bang the gavel hard and declare, ‘Objection overruled’.”
Further speaking extensively on the topic of Bharatiya Jurisprudence, and stressing that a blind application of ancient principles should not be done, the judge concluded his speech by saying, “The legal system that we now have, including our Constitution, is an amalgam of features of several laws of Western nations. However, our genius will be in making Bharatiya music flow out of Western instruments.”
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