CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM – WHO WILL JUDGE?
The criminal justice system was created to pass on timely justice to the citizens of this country, aggrieved by criminal acts, and to provide punishment within a reasonable time to the accused, with predictability, so as to make a visible feel of fairness, justice delivery and deterrence. More than seven decades is not a short time to take a call. Is there a need to take a call? If it has not served the purpose over and over again, it needs to be reworked. Can the same framework deliver better? Can the same human resources in conjunction with the same laws usher in a much better functioning of the criminal justice system?The first challenge is whether the correct message is going through or not?
With media having decided to be Shylocks to have their pound of flesh, out of criminal investigations, the public have to decide on the state of affairs based on what is dished out for a surreptitious purpose, their personal experience and the reporting on the issues dealing with the criminal justice system. Whatever, might be the inputs, one thing is for sure, that very few would give a satisfactory performance appraisal on any of the counts in this matter. It starts with the registration of a case; this itself remains to be the single biggest challenge. At times there are agitations only for this purpose. Lack of faith in the investigation starts with the local police and the investigation officer / agency involved. Governments after governments have taken the flak and they seem to be fine with it.
Recent years have seen many cases hitting the national limelight and they have strengthened the popular perception. It is believed that genuine action happens under pressure, otherwise it would cozily disappear in the cozy ecosystem. The uniformity of law is another big question mark. Will we ever reach a level when we can bring into the legal net, all suspects / accused of criminal acts? Is it a pick and choose game? Equality before law also means that all those who break the law, would and should be booked. This is not rocket science. The quality of both investigation and commitment is ripped out in the open, trial after trial, of the small percentage of cases which are booked compared to the nature and magnitude of rampant criminal activities; drugs, extortion, corruption, badlands, criminal gangs, mafias from sand to iron ore; the list can go on and on.
The conviction rate tells its own story. The prosecutors who are there to make legal victories happen, we are not sure whether they have the grit, perseverance to take it through, besides legal expertise. Does the ecosystem support them? We still have a couple of them carrying legal firepower, in favor of the state and the victims. The battle between prosecutors and defense lawyers nobody knows, whether it is a battle for justice or injustice. The re-evaluation of evidence by the higher courts puts a microscopic lens on it, but what about the evidence itself? The delay in the legal process is killing. Can technology be the game changer? Do we pass on the tests of; justice delayed is justice denied and justice should not only be done, but should seem to be done. Is the country paying a heavy price for playing around with its criminal justice system indiscriminately?
DO WE HAVE A WELL ROOTED INJUSTICE SYSTEM, WITHIN THE OVERALL CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?