Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Assault on Civil Society??

What would somoene desire if not adopt the Aakhri Raasta and shoot these guys?

Law is Blind

Justice can be so antithetical to common sense that, for all purposes, it becomes nonsense. Nearly seven years ago, Jessica Lall, a citizen of Delhi, was killed in a restaurant packed with people, many of whom knew the young woman personally. On Tuesday, a Delhi court’s acquittal of nine people accused means that no one has as yet been found guilty of her murder. Clearly, two crimes have been committed — one, the actual murder of a woman; two, the act of letting those guilty of the murder walk away into the sunset.

In a judicial system that (rightly) hinges on the tenet that a person is innocent until proven guilty, this seems a tragic, but, alas, ‘fair’ judgment. But the murder of Lall was not committed in a dark and empty bylane or in the badlands of Bihar where the law is a figment of one’s imagination, but in the presence of scores of people in the national capital of a sensitivised urban India. So what happened? For one, the police decided to bungle. Basic forensic rules were thrown out of the window; witnesses who turned hostile were given little incentive to stick to their initial stand; the accused were not ‘squeezed’ hard enough, and the murder weapon not found. When a person is shot dead at pointblank range in front of a crowd and there is a lack of evidence of this act ever having being committed, something more than just a rat can be smelt. It is this stink that is now emanating not only in Delhi but throughout the land.

The three main accused in the murder case are ‘well connected’. If there is a single incentive in this country for anyone to yearn for political connections, it is to protect oneself from the law if and when required. And the police are not alone in playing ‘protectors’ to well-heeled criminals. The courts, too, by dragging such cases for years on end — with witnesses having enough time to be threatened or cajoled, and with judicial officers being shunted in and out for no apparent reason — have facilitated the process of justice being denied. For Jessica Lall’s family to be told that there is not enough evidence to punish her killer(s) is punishment of the most debilitating kind. For the rest of us, the concept of justice has once again proved to be a silly bedtime story for the gullible.