The Broken Low Level Legal System In India

Posted on September 8, 2011 in Society

By Shailza Sharma:

I have been a law student for the last three years, and have not regretted my career choice even once. But only recently I had the chance to have a look at the legal system really closely. My cousin had ‘lost’ his phone. Well, here are the facts: Let’s call him ‘A’. ‘A’ was on his way to home in a metro feeder bus happily listening to music on his Nokia phone. He suddenly looked around when he realized that the music had stopped. His phone was not in his pocket, he looked up and saw that a group of 2-3 guys were hurrying down the bus and looked really suspicious. It suddenly hit him that his phone had been stolen, immediately he asked the conductor to stop the bus and prevent those people from getting down the bus. As it turned out the conductor was in on the conspiracy and refused to stop the bus. Later at the last stop when my brother insisted on wither going back or calling the police, the conductor offered him to get his phone back but only on the condition that he would bring him a certain bottle of liquor at a particular bus stop.

Frustrated and disappointed my brother went home that day, the next day he decided to lodge a complaint. This is where I accompanied him along with my father.

So, this is what exactly happened in the police station: We went to the officers who were filing complaints. Firstly, they made us wait for at least 15 minutes since their Investigation Officer was not there. They told my father that he could leave and they would assist my cousin in filing the complaint, but my father politely declined.

This was the scene in the police station while we were waiting: The phone ringing constantly and the officer sitting beside the phone was busy writing the complaints of the mishaps taking place in that area. There were only about 4 filed officers available who were being sent for inspection for all the 8 complaints that came in about half an hour. Every officer had to make two trips each time he came back to report to the station, so basically, at none of the scenes the police officers reached in time.

After 15-20 minutes when they realized that we were still waiting, they reluctantly called us over to talk to us. When we told them the complete story all that the officer did was to advise us on filing a complaint for “loss of phone” instead of the phone being stolen. He said that they already had so many complaints regarding stolen phones and they had been trying to track down through IMIE number but only rarely a person gets his phone back. Puzzled and irritated my brother decided to file a complaint regarding the phone being lost. Even though he did not directly refuse to file an FIR, he did ask us to alter the complaint which in effect makes it the same.

So the takeaway from all that happened that night was basically this: Our legal system at the lowest level is flawed. The law enforcement officers don’t leave an opportunity to bend the law; they are not hesitant about it as well. A lot of it stems from lack of manpower and resources and being unaware of the black letter law. The positive thing is that this can be rectified. This rectification has to come from the government which stresses upon police reforms to make them more able and resourceful so that they can handle their cases more efficiently.