Values For Crime-Free Society
According to Taylor, “A herd of wolves is quieter and more at one than so many men, unless they all had one reason in them or have one power over them.” Undisputedly, each human being has conflicting interest. It is also observed by Hobbs, “Unless man is under common power to keep them all in awe, it is impossible for men to live together in present days.”
We are all human beings, and according to Justice Krishna Iyer the central concern of law and justice must be humanity. The preamble to the universal declaration of Human Rights states:
“Whereas recognition of inherent dignity of equal and inalienable rights for all the members of human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” With recognition of various Supreme Court judgments even criminals are entitled to these human rights. According to the Taoists and Confucians, “Man commences life with virtuous nature, yet law is necessary for preventing man from doing a wrongful act which he may commit by reason of deviation from the right path. The criminal act of a person initiates with criminal intent hence the presumption is that an offence is committed with guilty mind (mens rea) Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens sit Rea (An act accompanied with guilty mind attracts penal provisions). Therefore, law enquires into the mental process of a person and punishes a criminal accordingly.
What is the root cause of crimes? Undisputedly, today, 80 per cent of Indian population live below poverty line i.e. in gravest inhuman conditions. We fully agree that as human being, the dignity of everyone should be respected.
Our human life has many facets and man has infinite capacity of making many mistakes. However, there is always a scope of correction in future. A man can reform his self by tolerance and eliminating vices existing in him. This can be achieved by arousing the divinity dwelling in each human being. Most of stress and strains in our life are because we lack certain universally accepted values expressed by Justice Krishna Iyer in Veena Seth’s case and may well come true. “One day the cry and despair of large number of people would shake the very foundation of our society and imperil the entire democratic structure. When that happens we shall have only ourselves to blame.”
Out of the various theories of crimes, the reformative theory explains that crime is committed as a result of conflict between the character and motive of the criminal. Either because the temptation of motive is stronger or restraint imposed by character is weaker. This theory aims at strengthening the character of the man, so that he may not become an easy victim of his own temptation. According to this theory, a crime is like a disease and maintains that “you cannot cure by killing”. The ultimate aim of reformists is to try to bring about a change in the personality and character of the offender so as to make him useful member of the society. According to this theory, prisons must be converted to comfortable dwelling house. But in a country like ours, where millions live below poverty line, it may encourage commission of crimes.
In two famous cases lamenting on inhuman conditions and atrocities in Indian prisons, Justice Krishna Iyer has observed, “Is a prison term in Tihar jail a Post-graduate course in crime? The rule of law meets with its waterloo when the states minion become law-breakers and so the court as a sentinel of justice and the voice of the constitution, runs down the violators with its writ and serves compliance with human rights even behind iron bars and by prison wardens.”
The reformative object may serve a useful purpose for young offenders but not habitual criminals. According to reformative theory, all forms of punishment except imprisonment are barbaric.
From spiritual perspective, it is said, a man is embodiment of his thoughts so a man is where his mind is and not where his body is. It is rightly said: “We have made ourselves what we are.” The outer life is exact reproduction of inner self. The spiritual life plays a tremendous part in the world. We may be attracted by a flower and want to keep it forever but we cannot possess it if we severe from its root. In the same way, we cannot be truly living, if our consciousness (atma) is cut off from its source. Detachment from self-assertion brings fullness of life. Therefore, forget yourself as much and as often as you can. One cannot conceive a holy life without self-forgetfulness. As long as we think of our self we cannot think of God. We should be able to lay down the little self without any sense of loss. This becomes easy when a holy cause is born in the mind or when a holy purpose rises in the heart which blesses and sanctifies.
The world cannot hinder us if we don’t allow ourselves to be hindered. Where is our highest security? Not in wealth or outer material resources. It is in the living connection with our source. Our real safety lies in a spiritual principle. Only one who has made spiritual practices his habit will gain this connection. Our life, our hand and feet, our mind and heart, are wholly changed as if we have bigger loftier understanding. Knowledge of God destroys anguish, it destroys doubts, it destroys weakness, with such understanding and awareness in life crime can never takes place.
Divine proverb, “Where there is purity of heart, there is beauty of character; where there is beauty of character, there is harmony in the home; where there is harmony in home, there is order in the nation, and where there is order in the nation, there is peace on the earth.”
By Dr Rashmi M Oza