Judiciary In India: Where Are We Headed?
A question which is probably on everyone’s mind- Why has Maria Susairaj been let off the hook so easily? The lady along with her fiancée brutally murdered TV executive Neeraj Grover and chopped his body into 300 pieces. She actually had the nerve to go and report him missing a fortnight later. When the law finally caught up with her she pleaded guilty. Her defense being that it was under the threat of the co-accused that she had participated in the cover-up and that she had nothing to do with the murder. This could have been an open and shut case what with all the evidence pointing against her. The verdict in this case though has shaken up the entire nation.
The judge found her guilty of only destruction of evidence for which she was sentenced to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment-a period she has already spent in jail waiting for her case to come to trial. That is as good as acquittal. That brings us to the bigger issue of how justice is being meted out in the country.
The court system is perceived as tangled by many. Cases take years to come to trial in the court. It therefore, becomes very easy for the rich and powerful to influence witnesses and bribe officials. Ruchika Girhotra’s family finally brought their daughter’s tormentor Haryana DGP SPS Rathod to book after a wait of 19 long years and 400 hearings. The budding tennis player was molested and pushed to suicide by him. The accused, believed to have political clout in the State managed to get off with a mere 6 months sentence. The case was re-opened only after media spotlight and public outrage brought the judiciary under intense pressure. Other cases like the Jessica Lal murder case, the Priyadarshini Mattoo case and the Nitish Katara murder case among many others highlight the ineffectiveness of the criminal law system in India especially in high profile cases.
Ajmal Amir Kasab-the lone surviving attacker of Mumbai 2008 attacks has been lodged at the Arthur Road Jail for the past 3 years. It has costed the exchequer a whopping 10.87 crores just to keep Kasab alive. Although he has been sentenced to death, his petition for leniency is now with the President along with those of 30 other convicts. In all likeliness, by the time his turn arrives he will be a middle aged man not mentioning the amount of money it would cost the government. He probably is the safest man in the country.
The law makers are often the law breakers themselves. The kin of highly placed officials often feel that they are beyond the law of the land. The crime record of MPs, IAS officers and judges is alarming. Ex CJI K.G. Balakrishnan has been accused of misrepresentation of facts to conceal a minister’s attempt to influence a high court judge. He is also accused in a disproportionate assets case. There are other instances when those who have power manipulate the court proceedings in their favour.
The public remains highly disillusioned with the entire system at this point in time. For them to regain faith in the judiciary it is very important that the public servants display high levels of probity, honesty and integrity. Fast tracking of cases and proper functioning of Lokayuktas in States will be a step towards a better law enforcement. Let us learn a lesson from Singapore and Hong Kong and endeavor to deliver justice for all.