TODAY -

Mob Justice (Mob Reaction)
- Part 2 -

Col Khulem Sorojit Singh (Retd) *

Police rounded up suspects on  Satyabhama's killing and mob reaction :: April 09 2013
Police rounded up suspects on Satyabhama's killing and mob reaction on April 09 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



Whatever is the reason following fall outs from the delay in investigation/submission of Charge Sheet are vividly visible:

(a) A feeling (among the victim's family members) of need to bribe the IO/OC police station arises for at least timely completion of investigation. An added harassment to the victim's family and of course a chance to receive money from both the parties for the police and act according to value of money received.

(b) "JAC Activism" in an attempt to exert pressure.

(c) Frustration and loss of faith in the police (amongst the victim's family members and the society).

(d) The increasing practice of befriending law enforcing personnel by criminal minded people for ulterior motives.

In all criminal cases it is the "State Vs the Accused" therefore we have this system of appointing Public Prosecutor (PP) by the Government. The present criminal justice system is based on the principle that any crime committed by an individual is a crime against the societal order and the state is the aggrieved party being the custodian of the social interests of the community at large.

The prosecution and punishment for the crime is therefore the responsibility of the state, and not that of the victim of the crime. This may be true but this leads to distortion of reality at least in India, the role of the victim should not be completely negated. The State may or may not be affected, the victim definitely is. Since the victim is most directly and substantially affected, she/he should be allowed to prosecute in the first instance.

Given that prosecution of crimes is conducted by the state on behalf of victims (victim being a member of the community), it is astonishing that the justice system provides little space for the victim. At present the victim's role is recognised only to the extent that she/he is a prosecution witness. Even here large number of victim-witnesses turning hostile is testament to the harassment and intimidation they face within the system.

PP has the important function of efficient assistance to the Court, bringing culprit to book and protecting the innocent but has many short comings.

(a) There is a problem of accountability in contractual public prosecutors appointed in a State.

(b) The role of the public prosecutor commences once the investigation agency has filed the charge sheet in the court on the culmination of investigation. Therefore limited time for preparation. Legal fraternity in India believe "The Prosecutor has a duty to the State, to the Accused and to the Court". Prosecutor's concern for the victim and the society is missing. Naturally a prosecutor is indifferent to the outcome of the prosecution quite opposite the expectation of the public.

That's why the strong advocacy "The victim should be allowed to have a major role in the prosecution and in fact, should be allowed to engage her own counsel to carry on prosecution or the victim should be permitted to engage her own counsel, who will argue the case, along with the Public Prosecutor (not just as a mere assistant to the Prosecutor). This will ensure that the society, through the State, also has a stake in the matter.

Though many High Courts in this country have supported and allowed lawyers engaged by the victim's party as assistant to the public prosecutors to argue their case along with the PP while considering the proviso inserted under section 24(8) of Cr PC vide THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2008 [ACT No. 5 OF 2009] [provided that the Court may permit the victim to engage an advocate of his choice to assist the prosecution under this sub-section.] but many of the judges and lawyers are in oblivion of this latest development and still continue to ban Asst to the PP from arguing along with the PP.

(c) Further, the earnings in the open market are much higher than what the government offers to the prosecutors. Resultantly, able and competent advocates shy away from joining the prosecution agency.

One of the grey areas, where our justice delivery system has failed to come up to the people's expectations is that the judiciary has failed to deliver justice expeditiously. Besides reasons like Poor Judge Population Ratio, Complexity and Rigidity of Procedural laws etc the Judges also delay delivery of justice in the following manner

(i) Lack of punctuality, laxity and lack of control over case-files and court-proceedings, attending social and other functions during working hours contribute in no small measure in causing delays in the disposal of cases.

(ii) Some judges are very liberal in granting adjournments.

(iii) Some judges come to courts without reading case-files, therefore, the lawyers have to spend a lot of time just to explain the facts of the case and legal point (s) involved therein. Therefore, they argue at length and all this leads to wastage of precious 'Courts Time'. There is a great need for self improvement by Judges.

To cite one example Salman Khan's hit-and-run case, has taken 13 years for the prosecution to collect evidence and examine and cross examine 27 witnesses, and remedy is still uncertain. Now the most disturbing trend is "the beliefs amongst the public of the prevalence of corrupt/graft practices in our judicial system".

Veteran lawyer KC Mittal, who was president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, said "While pronouncing a judgement, no court gives reasons why and how the conclusion of the matter got delayed and who was responsible for it the police, prosecution or the accused. If anyone is not honestly and diligently pursuing the case, his or her responsibility should be fixed and court must make observation proposing action against them if any,"

Unfortunately, Lawyers are also responsible for delay due to varied reasons.
(i) Lawyers are not precise; they indulge in lengthy oral arguments just to impress their clients.
(ii) Lawyers are known to take adjournments on frivolous grounds. The reasons range from death of the distant relative to family celebrations. With every adjournment the process becomes costly for the court and for the litigants; but the Lawyers get paid for their time and appearance. More often than not, lawyers are busy in another court.

They have taken up more cases than they can handle, hence, adjournments are frequently sought (Generally delaying tactics is a norm for the defence counsels of accused)

(iii) It is also true that lawyers do not prepare their cases. A better preparation of the brief is bound to increase the efficiency of the system.
(iv) It is also seen that lawyers often resort to strikes etc.

Suggested Remedial Measures

If the Govt wants to curb the trend of vigilantism in the form of "Mob Justice" Steps have to be initiated to instil faith in the judicial system amongst the public. No doubt Court Cases/Trial takes time but it must ensure that the case is disposed within reasonable time by ensuring establishment of guilt "Beyond Reasonable Doubt" (The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation canbe derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.), Proper presentation of the facts and law and unbiased judgement. This requires honesty and dedication to ones profession at every stage. Keeping these in mind the following are suggested:

Investigation Stage. Though Police Modernisation has been a priority for every Government. Crime Investigation, a very important function of the Police seems to have been neglected; the emphasis seems to be laid on Law and Order maintenance mechanism as a result the modernisation effort ends up in buying sophisticate arms and equipments related to Law and Order maintenance. In order to improve police investigation following are suggested

(a) Good Training of the IOs encompassing all aspects related to investigation ie laws, evidence collection, investigation techniques, filtering information collected, analysing further course of action with the aim of completing investigation at the earliest with complete details required.

(b) Timely supervision to the IOs. There should be a prosecution organisation in every district within the police. This organisation must be staffed with suitable and qualified personnel. There should be free access and frequent interaction between the IOs and the prosecution staff. Modern communication system and technology must be made available for this purpose.

(c) There should be effective mechanism to check graft practices. Whatever be the mechanism, without appropriate punishment, will be like a toothless tiger.

(d) Arrangement has to be made to ensure minimum hindrance in the moment of IOs for Investigation.

(e) IOs who carry out his investigation duty well must be rewarded and those who does not should be reflected in his service record.

(f) Forensic Labs must be organised to provide scientific methods to guide and expedite investigations rather than becoming a cause of delay in investigations.

Prosecution Stage. If State is responsible for prosecution of Criminals being the custodian of the social interests of the community at large. The State must ensure that prosecution is carried out properly and expeditiously since charge sheet has been submitted in the concern court after scrutiny at various levels (assuming it has been done with sincerity and dedication). Selection and training of the Public Prosecutors should be done properly. The salary and status of Public Prosecutors should be appropriate to the responsibily.

Trial stage. Judges play many roles. They interpret the law, assess the evidence presented, and control how hearings and trials unfold in their courtrooms. Most important of all, judges are impartial decision-makers in the pursuit of justice.

Reticence may be good in many circumstances, but a judge remaining mute during trial is not an ideal situation.

To be continued...


* Col Khulem Sorojit Singh (Retd) wrote this review for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at sorojitkhulem(AT)yahoo(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on June 04, 2016.



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