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DUE PROCESSES

All confusion is bewildering but nothing is worse than legal confusion. On one particular issue, legal minds seem to be floundering. As The Telegraph has pointed out on more than one occasion, the dictum, “Innocent till proven guilty” is one of the pillars of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence and, thereby, of the Indian legal system. Yet in the matter of the former Supreme Court judge, Ashok Ganguly, the man is being treated as if he is guilty even before formal charges against him have been framed. It is one thing when people ignorant about the due processes of law react in this manner; but it is quite another when those who are responsible for teaching law treat Mr Ganguly as a guilty person. As matters stand, all that exists is an allegation in the form of a letter to a panel of the Supreme Court. A special committee of the apex court has pronounced a view on the matter even though it did not hear Mr Ganguly’s version of the incident. The latter, since then, is bearing a stigma without getting a chance to defend himself. It is difficult to conceive of a more confusing situation in the domain of law.

The confusion prevails because it would appear that there is no certainty about what kind of legal system and legal philosophy prevails in India. If a man is treated as guilty even before he has been tried, then the Anglo-Saxon system has surely been abandoned. But has it been? As the Anglo-Saxon system officially still prevails, Mr Ganguly must be treated as innocent as the next man. What is distinctly odd is that police/legal processes have not been initiated in the matter: there is no first information report, there is no investigation and, therefore, no case. All that exists is a letter, followed by outpourings in a blog. What has of course muddied waters further is the intervention of a senior government official who on the basis of the letter of allegation actually condemned Mr Ganguly in the media. Under the circumstances, it has become almost impossible to take an objective view of the matter. The longer this matter is allowed to hang in limbo without the support of the required legal underpinnings, greater will be the confusion. It is up to the apex court, since it has already entered into the matter, to ensure that the due processes of law prevail. Justice must not only be done but also seen to be done.