The Jus­tice Sys­tem Stands In­dicted

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

It took nearly 12 years for a trial court to de­ter­mine the in­ad­e­quacy of the ev­i­dence ty­ing Mo­ham­mad Rafiq Shah and Mo­ham­mad Hus­sain Fazili to the 2005 se­rial terror blasts in Delhi. The onus of prov­ing guilt lies with the pros­e­cu­tion. In this case, how­ever, the pros­e­cu­tion was un­able to pro­vide clear ev­i­dence of the guilt of the two men iden­ti­fied by the in­ves­ti­gat­ing agen­cies. More­over, the pros­e­cu­tion ap­pears to have taken de­lib­er­ate pains to ig­nore and later de­stroy his al­ibi of be­ing in class when he was sup­posed to be plant­ing a bomb in a bus and re­lied on con­tra­dic­tory ev­i­dence from wit­nesses. The ver­dict is an in­dict­ment of the func­tion­ing of the po­lice and its method of pros­e­cu­tion and of the de­lay that prover­bially de­nies jus­tice on the part of the court.

Those ac­quit­ted have lost out on years of their lives, the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies have no sense of closure, and per­pe­tra­tors of the crime go un­pun­ished. This is a story that is re­peated of­ten enough. It is, there­fore, time to re­visit man­ner in which in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­ducted. Proper pro­to­col must be ob­served in ev­ery step of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion: se­cur­ing the crime scene, proper col­lec­tion and se­cur­ing of ev­i­dence, foren­sic eval­u­a­tions, log­i­cal ques­tion­ing of sus­pects and wit­nesses, and fair and ro­bust in­ves­ti­ga­tion helps im­prove out­comes.

Ro­bust, rule-based in­ves­ti­ga­tion is only half of the story. For jus­tice to be served, courts too need to en­sure that cases are heard in a time-bound man­ner. Inor­di­nately long de­lays in dis­pos­ing of cases in­crease the pos­si­bil­i­ties of mis­car­riage of jus­tice. When ev­i­dence comes to light of mala fide pros­e­cu­tion ef­forts, cases should be filed against the cops in­volved. It is not enough for ju­di­cial crit­i­cism to fig­ure in the ver­dict dis­miss­ing charges.

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