Sunday, April 19, 2009
Jeevan Das of 'green ply' plywood
Click on the image to enlarge.
Jeevan das is young, Jeevan Das is middle aged and Jeevan Das is old and similarly prosecuter also advances in age. The ad is about greenply plywood, which during this lengthy period has withstood the hammerings by the judge. This small ad has given tremendous insight into the judicial process in our country.
Jeevan Das was a young upright man working as a junior executive in a PSU. He was required to sign invoices both for sale and stock transfers by rail, and trucks against cash receipts issued by different locations. Contractors for stock transfers were appointed by different office. Supplies were made against delivery orders and cash receipts issued by different offices of the same PSU.
Cash receipts and delivery orders were checked and the current delivery and balances of delivery order quantity and cash receipts were noted in the columns provided on the reverse of the documents by an assistant. The assistant after these checks and balances issued a blank but serially numbered invoice to a typist clerk. The typist clerk typed the challan giving the details of cash receipt, reference of delivery order and then passed on the entire bunch to Jeevanl Das for his signature. In the course of time it became a routine for Jeevan Das to sign the invoices. Signing the invoices was one small part of his job. As a unit head he had many other functions.
Some stock transfers did not reach their location. But the stock transfers were effected through authorised trasporters appointed by another office. He signed an invoice for sales, which was put up to him after completing the formalities by the assistant and the typist clerk. After a year it was found that the cash receipt was counterfeit. Matter was reported to police.
Management of JeevanDas did not find any fault with him and filed FIR for recovery of goods from the contractor. He continued in his job.
After five years of investigation police filed a criminal case against Jeevan Das.
He received court summons and appeared before the court with a lawyer arranged by one of his colleagues.
once he reported, he was told he was under arrest and had to obtain bail of Rs. 30000/- Jeevan Das had never seen thirty thousand at any time in his life and was in a state of shock. But 'peshkar'( court clerk) came to his rescue. there was a wonderful system of obtaining bail. There were some registered 'bailers', who charged ten percent of bail amount to stand surety. JeevanDas managed RS.3000/- pooled and given to him by some of his colleagues. Peshkar's fees were additional.
JeevanDas’s journey to court begins at the age of thirty-six.
‘Jeevan Das ko kadi se kadi saza milni chahiye’ says police prosecutor. Jeevan Das was charged for conspiracy and cheating along with the contractor. In the court he was almost treated like a criminal and not accused. The lawyer would demand his fees in advance and some times would not even turn up resulting in adjournments. Lawyers would order tea and snacks for their colleagues as well and would ask Jeevan Das to pay. Afterall lawyers say “We do not render any service to the litigant-----it would be harsh to make lawyers pay for alleged deficiency in service under the consumer law”.
Prosecution took four years to present twenty witnesses; Jeevan Das had never seen them before except four from his office, who narrated the procedure of despatches. All other witnesses told the court how the contractor sold the goods to them. Even then the judge took cognisance and proceeded with the trial of JeevanDas. Years rolled by but cross-examination of witnesses was not even half way through. Twenty years after the case began just fifteen witnesses were examined. JeevanDas was fiftysix and the case continued.
I am grateful to ‘greenply’ plywood advertisement for providing inspiration. Green ply’s strength is symbolic of our judicial process. ‘Chalata Rahe Chalta Rahe!’