It could be utilized better for creating legal awareness, says lawyer

For long, the Madurai District Court campus here did not have a full fledged compound wall. It was forced to function with barbed-wire fencing. A wall was built around the campus only recently and in no time, a section of political parties have coloured the cement wall with writings hailing their leaders and announcing party conferences. Some have even reserved the space for future use!

Criticising the practice of using court property for political purposes, R. Gandhi, a High Court lawyer, says that politicians should show restraint and spare at least judicial buildings from being used for party activities.

Quoting the famous aphorism ‘Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done,’ he says that not only must the judiciary be independent but also be seen to be independent.

“Judiciary is the last resort of the common man. A person approaches the court only after he fails to get a remedy for his problems through other means. When such is the case, it is very important to uphold the majesty of the court. The court campus should not be used for any activity that could allow even an iota of wrong impression in the minds of the people,” he adds.

The wall paintings on the court compound wall were not restricted to one or two parties.

Rather, politicians belonging to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam as well as the leading opposition party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam were among the many who had partitioned the wall among themselves and utilised it for party propaganda.

Insisting that the judges should intervene in the issue and take steps to make the partymen erase the graffiti by whitewashing the walls, the advocate said that such unauthorised use could be prevented if the court itself utilises the space for creating awareness among the litigant public about their Constitutional rights and entitlement to free legal aid through the Legal Aid Services Authority.

The walls could be painted with information about the guidelines, popularly known as 11 commandments, laid down by the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu’s case (1996) with regard to procedures to be adopted by the police while arresting an individual. It could also be used to disseminate information about the fundamental rights of the citizens and how to claim them.

“The judiciary must take a cue from the Armed Reserve police ground’s compound wall which has been used for writing couplets from Thirukural. If not all, at least a few do get benefited out of such writings. Since most of the people are still ignorant about their legal rights as well as the social welfare legislations, the court compound wall could be utilised for making them vigilant,” he concludes.

More In: Madurai