Travesty of justice

The judgment has come at last in the Hyderabad bomb explosion case in which a suspected terrorist blew himself up before a police task force in 2005. Ten persons were arrested in connection with the case, prosecuted and put on trial. After spending eleven long years in jail, nine of them have been acquitted by a local court. The tenth had been granted bail earlier on health grounds. They have been acquitted and unless the State prefers an appeal to a higher court, they will be released. But the years that they lost for no fault of theirs will not come back to them. This is not the first case. There have been such cases earlier also where the State tried to frame innocent people but after undergoing a long and painful ordeal they were acquitted by the courts and set free. The memory of the mental and physical trauma that they suffered, the hours of interrogation and the attempts at getting confession that they had to go through will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
That the police could not build a fool-proof case against them with clinching evidence is obvious. A terror attack had taken place and they had to arrest some persons, fix the guilt on them and put them on trial to save face. That the supposedly guilty were found innocent by the court is of no concern or consequence to the police. But a healthy society which cherishes democratic values should protest against such gross abuse of power and try to ensure that such cases do not recur. To be arrested for a crime against the State, to be branded as abettors or collaborators of terrorists and ultimately to be released because nothing was found against them only after they had spent the best years of their life behind stone walls has no recompense.
These men were eventually found not guilty and set at liberty. But there were others against whom no fool-proof case on the basis of irrefutable evidence admissible under the Indian Evidence Act could be made out but still they had to mount the gallows. Though the courts nowadays are averse to awarding the death penalty except in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases, still miscarriage of justice does take place. The guilty may not be a terrorist or a political offender but a common man for whom nobody cares to speak. The circumstances of their alleged crime leave enough room for reasonable doubt whether they were guilty.  But sometimes even the courts feel compelled to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of society’.  A pity.

Sunday, 13 August, 2017