- Bribe Fighter
- 13 years ago
- 4461 views
I have always heard about how bad our Indian justice system is, how corruption has enslaved our city to the point where nothing works without a transaction under the table to cut through endless amounts of pointless red tape. To be honest I have never really given it much thought and have only experienced it first hand when I have returned to a police chawki, a day after cutting a red light. Standing in a line in the hot sun to pay a Rs 100 fine so that I can retrieve my license, when I could have been on my merry way with a Rs.50 note and an apology. Every time this happens to me I contemplate the frivolity of the ‘ethical’ statement I feel that I am making. I assume that slowly, over time I will end up paying that Rs 50 and minimize the guilt associated with it. I wonder, if I chose to do this, will the line between right and wrong forever be in question? I realize how dramatic that ********** sound but I cannot believe that our nation is so corrupt because people are born that way, there is always a defining choice or a series of defining choices somewhere in your life which lead you to being the person you are (with regard to your values at least).
My parents are honest people. I say this less as a naive child who thinks ‘my daddy’s strongest’ (or in this case my daddy’s has never paid a bribe in his life) and more as someone who understands the difficult decisions one has to face in any position of power. My mother is one of those proactive citizens who plants trees, waits endlessly at BMC offices to get the roads fixed, confronts illegal diggers and yells at cops peeing on the footpath. My father even goes to the extent of sending back extravagant Diwali presents which he writes off as people trying to buy favours.
My colony is divided into sections- wings A, B, C and wings K & L. These wings are all connected and all the facilities such as the swimming pool, gardens etc are enjoyed equally by all the members of the colony. In 1996 my mother bought over a garage from the builder of our society. It is prohibited by law for a builder to sell a garage; unfortunately this law was not known to us and not enforced at all at the time. Currently more than 90% of the garages in my society have been sold by the builder with all the legal paperwork done and in hand. The garage is extremely close to my house and can be seen from my second floor window in A wing. In 2002 K & L was registered as a society. In 2005, certain members of the society asked us to pay maintenance charges backdated to the year 2002. This was a rather large amount but it was only fair that we pay them, so my mother readied the money and asked for a bill which they refused us (stating we are not members of the K & L society), which would mean that there would be no record of us ever having paid the money. My mother refused saying she would only pay on condition of receiving a bill. This simple, ethically correct decision has led to a 5 year of court case forcing my mother to feel the full wrath of being an honest person in a dishonest city. At first, it was a fight to become a member of K & L which we were denied, then granted, then again denied. Appeal after appeal the decisions kept changing. During this time the garage was in our possession (by law) till such point as the case was settled in court.
One day in March 2010 while the car was out of the garage, certain committee members took the law into their own hands and arranged for the K & L gate to be locked and filled our garage with rubble from a nearby construction sight. We went to the police who assured us they would come and sort out the issue, but one phone call later, they switched sides completely stating it was not a police matter. I felt my mother’s pain as she often contemplated just giving it up. It was not just the case of possession of a garage anymore. It stood for so much more. Everyone has gone through someone taking something from them just because they could. It ********** be something small like having your phone stolen in the train. Imagine if you knew who stole your phone, you could see the person every day and all the proof you needed was at your disposal but nobody would help you, no one would take your side.
So it’s back to the court with this new case. This time it has became a one-sided no holds barred attack on my family. Names were dropped, lives were threatened, ridiculous allegations were made in courtrooms (claiming we are complete outsiders parking our car in K & L and even allegations such as the car has never moved out of the garage and is parked there just to create a nuisance). Every underhanded trick in the book has been used to delay the case; from not showing up in court to giving our garage away to another resident and so involving a third party to delay the case even further.
Six months have passed and we finally see a ********** of hope. A ruling in our favour. The Dindoshi court judge has ordered the defendants to allow us to reoccupy the garage stating that the honourable court could not stand by and let the defendants take the law into their own hands. Alas, what is the point of having a court ruling in your favour when the police refuse to enforce and the defendants refuse to adhere to the law.
Yesterday morning my family went to the police station for the third time in two days (and the ‘nth time in six months) with two members of K & L who defended themselves and satisfied the police by showing old rulings which shouldn't change anything in the least. Finally they have filed for appeal and are withholding our property illegally while we can do nothing but watch.
If you have gotten to this point in my note it is probably unclear to you why I have written a note about it in the first place. I am a media student, this is all I know how to do- share; to find a solution or an idea and while I do not expect anything to come of this post I hope it will in some way ease the overwhelming feeling of helplessness and anger I feel while watching someone I love go through a really hard time.