Monday, August 20, 2012

Duty vs Conscience...

The other night I was watching a debate on ‘Times Now’ about an ex-minister who has been accused in the case of suicide by a young air-hostess. Anyone with a bit of common sense, after watching the development of the case can understand how a person with power, money and a criminal record, has been making a mockery of the legal system of the country.

Yet, I was aghast to see a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court (who has been selected by the accused politician to fight his case) exclaiming his client to be absolutely innocent. According to him, the accused, who had been declared absconding by the police, was merely exercising his legal rights by evading questioning and seeking anticipatory bail.

Now, why would a person seek anticipatory bail and abscond to evade the police if he is absolutely innocent ? It doesn’t really require rocket-science to make out how innocent the man really is. But then why was such an eminent and senior lawyer trying to defend a man who had so many evidences against him ?

It could be because the lawyer was carrying out his professional duty towards his client who had obviously paid him a huge amount of fee. Not considering money to be the deciding factor, but should we really imagine that the lawyer was bound to do so because of his duty towards his profession ?

Hence, I wonder if professional duty is such a driving force that makes a person forget about morality. Or is it just the other side of the coin of a fair legal system to provide an equal opportunity of defense to an accused ? Just like the appointment of a lawyer for defense for the terrorist ‘Kasab’ who was captured during the 26/11 attack ?

But does such a criminal even deserve a defense ? Someone who is caught red-handed murdering so many innocent citizens ? Does such a terrorist have human-rights for himself who didn’t blink an eye while destroying hundreds of innocent lives ?

What should the lawyer have done who was appointed to defend the terrorist ? Should he have accepted just because it was his professional duty ? Or was his job more important to him ?

Being a doctor, I now shift the same question towards doctors.

Suppose the accused politician I mentioned above is finally proved guilty and sentenced to prison. Most probably (if not surely) he will then complain of chest pain and will be shifted to a personal room in some hospital. Should the doctor on duty be true towards his profession and treat the criminal just as another patient ?

I wonder, if I was the doctor on duty in a government hospital, and was asked to treat a criminal for an illness, who had raped and murdered a little girl, would I rather think about the ‘Hippocratic oath’ (which asks me to treat any and every person who is in need of treatment) and treat the criminal with care or would I think about losing my job if I refused.

Should a terrorist like ‘Kasab’ be entitled to the care from a doctor for an illness just like any other normal patient ? Should the ‘Hippocratic oath’ decide the doctor’s actions ? Or should his conscience decide it for him ?

Should a professional forget about his professional duties while tackling a criminal case and let his conscience take the decision ?

OR…. is money and security of job the biggest factor for one’s actions in today’s times ???

(Image courtesy : Google Images)


  1. there was a quote i read on this " the judge should give justice rather than decide which lawyer gave the best argument."as for us, we are doctors. we do not and in most cases , can not decide who is guilty and who is innocent. that is for the law to ponder upon.
    our conscience is our duty. to save lives.
    thank God for that!

    1. Magus :

      Yes. No one can decide whether or not a person is guilty. Only the law can decide that. But what about the case where a person is pronounced guilty by the law ? Should a terrorist, who himself has confessed to plotting and murdering tens of innocent people be entitled to care ?

      Though I agree with you that a doctor's duty is to save lives. But many times it's not about saving lives but being entangled in legal technicalities to help an accused to evade the law. That's what I have a problem with.

      And about lawyers, mostly if not otherwise, they are in the know of the exact truths about the details of a criminal case even before they defend their client in the court. They use their experience and expertise in legal technicalities to defend their client from punishment. Of course they do their duty to the best of their abilities. Legal technicalities are such that if a lawyer is bent on defending an accused, he can get a death sentence converted to a life sentence and a life sentence to parole. But in doing so, aren’t they delaying and/or denying justice to the victim ?

      Does the counsel for defense of a terrorist actually believe that his client is innocent ???

  2. It is a questions of ethics and I suppose one makes a decision depending on how strongly one feels about the crime/criminal whom one is called upon to treat. This applies more to doctors. As for lawyers, they can make out if the person is guilty and take a decision based on that knowledge. That they still go ahead to defend them means that they have compromised somewhere and are putting the onus on the system and quote it 'a person is innocent till proven guilty.'

    As a medic, what would you do?

    1. Zephyr :

      As Magus pointed out in the comment above, a doctor's duty is to save lives. And I agree to that.

      As for lawyers, I don't think they put the onus on the system. I think that if they know when a person is guilty, and still go on to defend him, they are more concerned with their job/fee.

      As a medic, I don't think that helping someone to evade the law by using medical technicalities (like being admitted for chest pain) is the duty of a doctor. And a doctor shouldn't succumb to such antics. Saving a life is fine, but personally, I would rather put pen to paper to give in my resignation than put a stethoscope to the chest of a terrorist or any other 'proven' criminal !

  3. Shobhit you have raised pertinent questions and I have some more...
    This man, the home minister of my state has been involved in many criminal cases but enjoys protection from the CM. The govt here is in a minority and independents like him are aiding in keeping the CM's seat secure. How did he amass so much wealth..airlines, casinos, farmhouses so quickly?
    I am sure this is the the first girl who has been a victimised.
    Also, why did a girl of 22 accept BMWs and forgein vacations from a man twice his age? Both families went on foreign vacations together. Of course this does not justify anything but I am guessing a quid pro quo...then perhaps things went out of hand.
    And morals? Rare to find.

    1. Alka Gurha :

      Yes. That was exactly what I wondered initially. Why was a young girl hobnobbing with such a guy in the first place ? But then I remembered your post 'Shades of illusion'. This was another such example of it. It was a case of a symbiotic relationship. The girl was into it for the high-society life while the politician had some other interests. But it was when the girl realised that the damages were becoming more than the advantages, that she tried to escape. But by then it was too late.

      About the man, it's simple to see why he was so important for the state government. But still he won an election to become a minister. I'm sure most of his voters/followers must be the people who depend on him for their financial needs. Even a hundred rupee note means a lot to a poor person who then shows his loyalty in terms of a vote. I don't know if you saw his supporters shouting slogans in front of the police station just before his arrest.

      But still, a crime has been committed and a life has ended. And the person(s) guilty should be punished. Of course the participants in the case didn't care for morals. But I wish those who can help in justice don't forget their morals too.



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