Word of the Week #193:

Retribution

We all like superheroes, right? 

Who wouldn’t love characters like Batman, who fight crime, go after bad guys, and maintain peace in the world.

However, such individuals are better suited to the fictional world.

In the real world, people who operate outside the law and execute their own brand of justice are not called superheroes. They are are described by a different term: lynch mobs.

Over the past few years, I have noticed that in the wake of any highly publicised violent crime, amidst the usual outpouring of grief, there is a strong public demand for an immediate, equally violent retaliation. Ones who advocate basic concepts like “due process” come to be seen as dinosaurs, and their character comes to be questioned.

While it may seem natural to give in to our basest of instincts in a moment of pain and anger, one most always remember the difference between vengeance and justice. They make look the same when we are blinded by our emotion, but they are quite distinct.

There are practical reasons that could explain why following the due process can be beneficial to the society at large, but the simple fact is that we should not need reason and logic to do the right thing.

Isn’t that the very definition of a civilised society? That we can look past our immediate emotions and do what is right for society as a whole?

As the Chief Justice was forced to articulate, in response to the recent events:

“The criminal justice system in our country must change its attitude towards laxity and the time taken to dispose of each case. But I don’t think justice can ever be or ought to be instant, and justice must never ever take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character of justice if it becomes revenge.

—S A Bobde, Chief Justice of India 

Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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