It is with a heavy heart I write this post. Because, just the thought of the incident reminds me of the injustice and hypocrisy that still continues to reign under an invisible blanket in our country and how so many innocent people either fall prey to it or undeniably, are targeted like rats being looked upon by an eagle.
Somewhere between the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. It’d been six months since mom reluctantly went abroad for our sake, us kids – me and my brother (that’s another story I’ll write about on a later date). My brother being with dad, dad had gradually stopped him and barred him from meeting or talking to me, or to mom for that matter. On a famiy friend’s advice, I filed a petition in one of the legal aid centres for resolving the matter (why I filed a petition instead of solving the matter face to face, now that’s another story which is too long to be explained here). I’m not taking any names because this specific centre serves as a symbol of all those ‘namesake-legal-aid-centres’. Now, this specific legal aid centre is specially concerned with matters concerning women and also, is actually a Lok Adalat.
The jury consisted of 1) a very renowned person who’s also an activist and literary figure 2) Judge from the district court 3) Advocates and some other people probably from the legal field but I don’t really know about the rest. The first hearing was on a Saturday morning, and I went to the court all alone. After long hours of waiting outside, right from 9 in the morning to some time in the evening, I was finally called inside. And to be very honest, none of the jury members looked half as amicable or pleasant as they should have. Some had grumpy faces and the main ones had faces that reflected their self-pride. I let it slide, attributing it to the long day that they had (but boy how wrong I was). Since my dad failed to show up that day, they started asking me questions after going through the petition. Right after two or three questions, they triggered the atom bomb inside my brain. A lady in the jury asked me in a very dirty manner (as if she were in a lady’s group gossiping and bitching about some other lady), “Your mother has some extramarital affair isn’t it? Is that why she went abroad?” A series of similar questions followed, many of them pertaining to infidelity. Also, some of the members were talking amongst themselves in a low tone, and laughing. It was more like a light hearted session to them than a proper legal one.
Clearly, from reading the detailed petition and from talking to me, any sensible person would understand what an innocent human being my mom is. Extramarital affairs or infidelity or deception stay a million miles away from her. In spite of that, they had to ask me such questions repeatedly, questions targeted to prove my mom a bad person. They had drifted off the whole point of the case into a desperate attempt to blackmark my mother’s character. The second hearing, my dad showed up with a lawyer to defend him (which is not allowed according to the rules of that legal aid centre), and me all alone again. But it was far worse. When we went inside, I was surprised to see how all the jury members knew the lawyer accompanying my dad, so well. That was the first time I saw pleasance in all their faces. They talked things for some time and finally they asked him, “Oh, ‘Mr. Lawyer’, what happened, what’s the matter with this man?” From there on, they asked me few to no questions at all. The entire conversation took place between that specific Mr. Lawyer (who clearly wasn’t allowed in the room according to the rules) and the jury. They wouldn’t even allow me to open my mouth to justify my stand or speak a word. When I’d say something, they’d either break me off midway or ask me to shut up since they were talking with the other lawyer. They were also talking in some legal terms, which I’m not aware of.
Not only did I not get justice, the whole incident deeply disappointed me. I was traumatised by the attitude the jury maintained. I went there with the hopes of settling the matter and to be able to see my brother freely again, but they only made it worse. A court meant to protect women’s rights trying desperately to defame and disgrace women. This rightly shows the general attitude a large part of our country still has towards women and their right to be considered equal, an attitude where women are blamed even when they’re clearly the victims. It is an indication of how rules in our country are often bent by power, money, contacts or status. These type of people are disgracing the name of the many strict people in the legal field who fight for justice. A legal aid society that doesn’t stand by it’s rules or regulations. A place for some elite people to sit as jury members and give judgements as they like. I’m not saying this solely based on my experience – I have seen more women go out crying and angry from there. And the social worker in the jury, to this day I pity as well as dislike that person; a true definition of a hypocrite, who writes one thing in their works and acts in a completely opposite manner. A person who talks about women’s empowerment but fails to sheild those inherent patriarchial, conservative and misogynistic ideals sown deep within that person him/her self from showing up. If I ever meet you once again in person, I wouldn’t hesitate to say this at your face, “Shame on you, you are a disgrace and sorrow for any good society”.
But I prefer to be optimistic, and hope this will change some day.