59. Untruth in Law Courts
[From "The Question Box"]

Q. I have followed with interest the controversy that has grown round your article in Harijan "Fourfold Ruin". Whatever one may say about the arguments used on either side in this controversy, one thing I am in a position to assert without fear of contradiction, from my experience as a judicial officer of the present system of our law. Courts and the institution of lawyers are mainly responsible for the moral and spiritual degradation of our village peasantry in particular and the public in general. Even 'respectable' people, whom one has learnt to regard as the soul of honour in their ordinary every-day life, will tell barefaced lies for a trifle in a law court and think nothing of it. The canker is eating into the vitals of our village life. Would you suggest as to what a person in my position (viz. a judge), who has to record evidence and give judicial decisions, can do to check this evil?
A. What you say is too true. The atmosphere round law courts is debasing as any visitor passing through them can see. I hold radical views about the administration of justice. But mine, I know, is a voice in the wilderness. Vested interests will not allow radical reform, unless India comes into her own through truthful and non-violent means. If that glorious event happens, the administration of law and medicine will be as cheap and healthy as it is today dear and unhealthy. The heroic advice will be for you to descend from the bench, embrace poverty and serve the poor. The prosaic will be for you to do the best you can in the very difficult circumstances in which you find yourself, reduce life to its simplest terms and devote your savings for the service of the poor.

Harijan, 17-2-1940, pp. 7-8