Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect 


                        A Flawed Rationale for Rough Justice


Is there a connection between the rough justice handed out in encounters by the police routinely and the peoples’ courts of the Maoists and the fact that in main stream courts, it takes forever to fill positions of vacant judges, there is a huge backlog of cases leading to prioritization of cases which need to be disposed off speedily and which can be kept waiting and the fact that when a trial eventually takes place, many of the witnesses have turned hostile. The net result is that when after traveling such a winding trail, a trial does get completed; the conviction rate is as low as an abysmal 5 percent.


So what are the police to do? There is always pressure on them to perform and it takes a lot of effort to even apprehend, let alone arrest, some one who is evenly remotely a celebrity or well heeled, be it from the world of politics or crime or even terrorism. And then what happens as we find documented in case after case, the witnesses are bought off or frightened to death and in court, the witness retracts the statement that they had made before the police and on the foundations of which the prosecution had painstakingly built its case. The fact that in high profile cases, the criminal lawyers engaged by the defense are far more glamorous than the dowdy and under paid public prosecutor also plays a part in determining the direction in which the case goes.


Although the attention of the media has brought out many recent instances of witnesses turning hostile in court, the instances of course are many and most will remain forever. The many instances of politicians like Sajjan Kumar , who were accused of active involvement in the anti Sikh riots of 1984 and were subsequently acquitted after a protracted trial is one of the more prominent instances of witnesses turning hostile inspire of the fact that the entire involvement was in full public view and conviction should have been a technicality.


Of course in the last week, the Delhi High Court has been conducting hearings to enquire into the circumstances in which the witnesses in the Jessica Lal case had turned hostile. Thirty-one of the 101 witnesses in the case who retracted from their police statement during the murder trial in the Jessica Lal case had to explain their conduct in the High Court and the Court clearly indicated that at least one witness , Shayan Munshi was under Manu Sharma’s influence. Of course Manu Sharma has been convicted of the murder after another media battle.


There are so many murders and crimes  happening all over the country. How many can the media take note of and seek redress through public outcry? The media correspondents who matter are after all based in the big cities. What of the others? Till the judicial system is reformed and rid of its arcane vestiges , the rough and ready judgments in encounters – true or false will continue as will the instant decisions made in the Naxalite Peoples’ courts.

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