Saturday, December 4, 2010

Justice Dhingra aquits Mother in law of dowry death, slamming the trial court and public prosecutor for callousness. 'Criminal Justice System in India Needs Overhauling'

Justice Dhingra aquits Mother in law of dowry death, slamming the trial court and  public prosecutor for callousness. 'Criminal Justice System in India Needs Overhauling'

The Delhi High Court has said the justice delivery system needs overhauling as the poor are not getting timely justice in higher courts which are are kept occupied with cases involving persons with money or power.

"The whole criminal justice system needs overhauling so that the constitutional mandate of equality before law is made meaningful and it should not be the case that higher courts are kept occupied by the persons with money or power, as is the case today," the court said.

The court made the remarks while setting aside the conviction of a poor vegetable vendor who had to spend seven years in jail due to delay in disposing his appeal in the High Court.

The trial court had awarded seven years jail term to the vendor for allegedly killing his wife in 2003 and he filed an appeal in 2004 on which the High Court took six years to pass the verdict.

In the verdict, Justice S N Dhingra found him innocent and acquitted him but he had already spent his jail term.
"In this case, the High Court did not find time to hear the appeals of other two appellants who continued to remain in jail during trial period as well as appeal period for no crime of theirs," the court said adding the High Court should fix a time limit for disposing of such appeals.

"Neither the criminal should be let off by default as the High Court has no time to hear appeals nor should the innocents rot in jail by default," the court said.

The High Court pulled up the trial court for convicting the accused even though there were not sufficient evidence against him and merely on the basis of a statement made by his brother-in-laws.

"The conviction seems to be the result of a callous criminal justice system where neither the defence counsel prepared the case nor the prosecutor discharged his duty in an impartial manner nor did the judge consider it as his duty to see what offence was made out and everyone acted in a mechanical manner," the court said.

The court found that there was no evidence that the accused was harassing his wife for dowry leading to her death."The most disturbing factor is that no evidence, whatsoever, was collected by the police about the real facts. No effort was made by the public prosecutor or by the trial judge to even go through the evidence and consider what charges were made out. Charges seemed to have been framed in a mechanical manner," the court said.

In this case, the accused had married Janki in December, 2000 and she died within five months of her marriage.The court said that in such cases husband and in-laws should come forward to tell what was the real cause of death.

"The criminal practice in India has been on the lines of old track that accused must not speak and he should not be examined as a witness. I do not know why this practice developed but in all matrimonial offences, this practice is shutting the doors of the court to the version of the other side by their advocates," the court said.