Introduction: In certain genres (cultivation), people regularly undergo judgements as a way of getting stronger. Once they reach a certain break point, they are struck by lightning, and if they survive, they progress, or else they are seriously wounded and stalled, or killed. There are several break points.
Using a generic RPG as an example, the judgement happens every 5 levels and the baseline judgement grows stronger each time since your level is higher.
World: I have a slight variation of that cliche where the "judgements" are split between trials of conscience and tribulations of karma.
- Trials of conscience are inner affairs where you come to terms with regrets and guilt.
- Tribulations of karma are divine retribution for bad things you've done (in Heaven's point of view), and the worse things you do, the harsher the punishment is. Ordering a massacre also gives you bad karma, so you can't just wash your hands of it just because you didn't directly do it.
Question: Given that bad people are punished and the heaven sees all, I have trouble justifying why powerful bad people exist apart from those that "recently turned bad." After all, if the divine authorities of the world disliked bad people enough that they are intervening through the judgement system, no bad people (committing bad acts) should exist. The judgement system does not bother with mere mortals and only affect people above a certain level of power (since more powerful people are closer to influencing the fabric of reality, so to speak).
I need help thinking of an in-universe justification for the existence of powerful bad people that isn't bad people rule-lawyering themselves out of punishments. Or why the system doesn't kill some supervillains and not others.
Summary: Heaven punishes bad people directly. Why do powerful bad people survive to continue doing bad things when they should've died on their way to power?
Edit: The question is probably too opinion-based as is. I don't know if this will make it any less opinion-based, but I'll pick the answer based on what seems most plausible (to me) as a reason why a "good" system acting on a benefit analysis of karma would spare bad people. While this does invalidate some answers, it may be helpful for anyone else browsing the site.