There is a saying that Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. For example, you can’t just forget to file your income tax return and then claim that you were unaware that it applies to you. It is applicable in criminal law too.
A bigger principle possibly could be: knowledge of the law can be a very beneficial thing!
Going back to income tax example, only those who know the latest intricacies of income tax law will be able to utilize it’s full potential to minimize tax outgo by using exemptions on investments, rebates etc etc. And corporates have to know the law fully well to be able to operate.
A basic principle of criminal law is that any anyone accused of crime is innocent until he is proven guilty.
Indian public seems to be aware of it when it comes to voting for politicians accused of multiple crimes including many a time of murder and rape.
But many of accused men (and families) under IPC 498a/406/376/DV Act seem to think that the principle of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply to them! What else is the reason that they try so hard to prove innocence to police, CAW, or even own advocates when facing false allegations by the wife and gang? Why can’t we just keep quiet and let the law take it’s own course?
What would be the reason that people think that the politicians must be innocent, but the criminal complaint filed by ‘bahu’ or daughter-in-law/wife must be right?
There could be multiple possible explanations:
1. We have double standards for ‘normal’ public like us, versus our ‘mai-baap’ or godfathers who are the the people in power whether politicians or celebrities. They take care of us, so that’s more than enough and we need not look at their moral behaviour etc.
2. We actually have no trust in the animals called law and justice. Whoever is strong can make use of the law, and politicians are strong and so they are above it, and we are weak so we have to suffer the false allegations. It is actually in same theme of ‘mai-baap’ mind-set. Frequently, the callers say that their wife/in-laws are powerful or connected, when in fact according to my assessment, they are basically small time people and pimps. But the point remains that people are afraid not of the law, but of the powerful/connected people. The powerful/connected people can even file false cases, and the weak can’t defend against them. So in reality, they are saying that we are all living in a jungle raj. Law/justice must be just nice concepts not applicable in India.
3. If the income tax department (why can’t I think of any new analogy!) puts an unfair demand of tax which is not applicable as per law, we will fight that with full vigour and conviction, but if the wife/in-laws file cases against us, we are half-dead even before the case begins! Fighting the income tax department: “very good”, fighting wife’s allegations: “what a loser!”
I think the truth is a combination of all of the above. After seeing many cases over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the general mind-set of public is that they may act to be god-fearing (so they can get their Moksha/Swarg), but when it comes to the law they probably think of it as an ass to be whipped and used by the powerful.
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That could explain why we support politicians who are accused of crimes. They are powerful, they can harm us (or benefit their favourites), so we should not go against them!
Great way to build a country of 125 crore people. Surely one day we will become a superpower!
Coming to the part about shame. Why people feel so ashamed that they don’t even want to fight the allegations but want to ‘settle’. Part of the reason could be practicality: it is difficult to patiently fight for a few years while the case drags on in Indian courts like every other case. That’s not a complete explanation though and I will take it in a separate post since it merits a post of its own.
The bottom-line is that if you walk down the road, no one can say by looking at your face whether you are accused under 498a/406, or whatever IPC section. It’s all in your own head. Being accused is not the same as being guilty, this is something to learn from the politicians. Especially if you voted for one who had been accused too.