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Creating a whole mechanism of criminal law is not easy, it takes huge amount legal acumen and understanding jurisprudence, legal systems, crimes, nature of penal needs, society, culture and what not. It evolves over period of time improving upon the robustness of justice it can provide. It has equality, transparency, timeliness and predictability built into it. The concept is very unlike civil cases where there are two litigant parties, crime is an offence against the state, and state takes upon itself the task of providing justice to the victim / aggrieved and punishment to the accused, following the due process of law, neatly enshrined and following the principles as stated above.

The trillion-dollar question is criminal law safe in the hands of the state? it means in simple terms that is the law implemented / executed as designed to the extent of delivering the desired results. Has criminal law been safe in the hands of the governments over the decades? Does the state behave like a victim in such case and act stepping in the shoes of the victim, providing the best possible investigative and legal services or the very least what is mandated by law. The health of the country is clearly reflected by the strength of the legal system and more so the real strength of the criminal justice system of the nation.

How many of us would accept that criminal law is not safe in the hands of the governments given our tryst with criminal law? How far have we reached in the free and fair registration of criminal cases? It remains a big question mark. In a recent instance, Supreme Court has to intervene for mere registration of a case. Is it not the victim’s fundamental right? Strangely, this country boasts of privacy as a fundamental right. One issue that has been intriguing the nation for decades is that whether the battle is against the accused through a prescribed process provided by law fully facilitated by the state or is it battle against the government? More often than not it turns out to be a battle with the government.

How many times wrong sections of law have been invoked deliberately? In the recent instance of the Supreme Court intervening for criminal case registration, deliberate lethargy is the tune of investigation. There are cases which had to be transferred to a different state for justice to meted out. What does it mean? Same offence gets registered in one state, while it cannot be registered in the other. The influence that state governments exert is writ large everywhere. What proportion is legally decided and what proportion is politically decided? Playing with the criminal law is the favourite pastime of the Indian politician, how far then can the governments be? Arrest, bail objections to start with till parole and remissions, we have governments playing truant end to end. The rest is filled by the quality of prosecutors it fields. You can take an objective call, how safe is the criminal law in their hands?

Sanjay Sahay

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