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Punjabi Manch

English Section in 14th Issue

 

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RICH EXPOSE OF THE LEGAL UNDERBELLY

                                                                                                      Dr. Jaspal Singh

        

            Mitter Sen Meet is an attorney based in Ludhiana. However, he has been thrust into the limelight as a Punjabi novelist, delineating intricate court practices and the decadence in the legal system of the country. Two of his earlier Novels Tafteesh (Investigation) and Katehira (Dock/Witness Box), dealing with the cumbersome court procedure and the dispensation of justice, were widely acclaimed.

            The agencies dealing with law and other and the state of judiciary are brought into sharp focus by Meet in meticulous detail. Now, his third novel, Kaurav Sabha (Chetna Parkashan, Ludhiana) on the same theme has appeared and it has caused a flutter. In fact, this particular novel is an exposition of the collusion of judiciary, prosecution (police), medical authorities and the politician to the deteriment of ordinary citizens of the country. The epigraph of the novel reads : “ Jo jitt giya so har gia/Jo har gia so marr gia.” (The one who has won has actually lost and the one who has lost is as good as dead). These are the words meant for the present –day all-conquering potentates. The victors and the vanquished have to pay a heavy price.

                        Maya Nagar (a pseudonym for Ludhiana) is the locale of this novel. The narrative pertains to a well-known family of money-makers- trading, industry and real estate being their areas of operation. The elder brother Mohan Lal is the first to settle in the city as a contractor after giving up job of a government engineer. He makes it big by resorting to all kinds of tricks of trade. Then he invites his younger brother Ved ( a municipal employee in a mofussil town) to join him in the business. Lady luck smiles on them.

Whatever they touch turns into gold. But then wealth has its own complications. After the death of Mohan Lal, his sons Pankaj and Neeraj, who are well-educated professionals, take over the business. But, as is usual, fissures appear in the family over the division of property and business interests. As a result the main characters take extreme positions. Mohan Lal’s sons engage a gang of Bihari criminals to eliminate their uncle Ved’s family. In an attack on their residence, Ved’s son kamal is done to death, his daughter Neha is badly mauled and raped, Ved and his wife Neelam are cruelly hit on the heads with iron rods---in a typically “Kale Kachhe Wale” style. On the basis of certain leads,the leader of the gang is nabbed by the police and eventually the prosecuting agencies learn about the nature of the conspiracy. Pankaj and Neeraj utilise all their links to wriggle out of this heinous plot. They have no dearth of money so they engage best criminal lawyers of the town who are very manipulative and utterly unscrupulous. They bribe the police up to the highest level and even try to influence the courts.

            At every step, the system reeking with corruption is dissected and exposed; at places torn to shreds. The police, the judiciary, lawyers, doctors, politicans, including the area MLA, and even the CM are not spared. A so-called cultural organisation with a covert fascist agenda is put to scrutiny and their functional opportunism is laid bare, holding them in derision before everybody. The frailties of the legal profession with all its recent vulgarisation are pointedly commented upon by the author.

               In fact, when Ram Nath a lawyer, one of the main characters in this tale cross-examination a rape victim he behaves like Daryodhana in the Mahabharata derobing Daropati. But when his own niece Neha has to appear for deposition in the court as a rape victim and is cross-examined by the opposing lawyer in the same manner, he is stunned and tightly holding his head in his hands, he curses himself for becoming a lawyer.

            Mitter Sen does not blindly haul one and all over the coals, he has a word of praise for the honest as well. For instance, the session judge, Sadhu Singh, is lauded for his sincerity to profession, but such persons became helpless when surrounded by a pack of foxes in the legal environment.

            The trickery and deceit of the wily lawyers using immoral subterfuges to secure a point are brought out into the open. But certain organisations engaged in social service are admired for standing by the victims. Being an insider, Meet’s understanding of the court life is exhaustive and meticulous. He brings out all the muck and squalor that has crept into the system in the last few decades. Kaurav Sabha has earned its own space in Punjabi literature as a biting satire of the contemporary life in the largest city of Punjab.

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