The Justice System Stands Indicted
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.