Friday, 5 October 2007

The "Speediness" of Justice in India

To take off from what I said yesterday--if it took a DM's widow 13 years to get justice for her murdered husband, how long would it take an ordinary citizen to get justice? Answer: maybe 24 years, give or take a year. Let's take an example--the 1984 riots. If this had been any other country, say the US or the UK, where a hate crime was perpetrated against a minority community, it would have taken at the most a few days to arrest the perpetrator and a few months for trial and conviction. However, the victims of the 1984 riots are still in the process of moving the High Court to charge one Shri Jagdish Tytler with incitement to riot, because the CBI has given him a clean chit!

The excessively long time taken between the investigation of a case and its trial mean that the defendant's representatives have a lot of time to get witnesses to change their testimony, as seen in a very well-known case involving a BMW allegedly driven by an industrialist that ran over and killed a few ordinary men coming home from work one foggy New Year's eve. The police were actually able to follow the trail of blood left by the car as it was driven to a house, to be cleaned, and as its occupants were about to flee. However, the eight years that it took for the case to come to trial were enough to turn every prosecution witness (except one man) hostile. This man was evidently dropped from the list of prosecution witnesses by the lawyer concerned, because he was seen as being "friendly to the defendant." An investigation carried out by a television network says otherwise.

Or what of the model who was shot in full public view of the creme de la creme of Delhi's fashion fraternity? Has her killer been brought to justice or has he escaped, using his political connections? Journalistic investigations revealed how money was paid out, how the Delhi police used its powers to intimidate witnesses and how the judiciary failed to ask the right questions. This miscarriage of justice enabled a murderer and his associates to walk free.

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