By Anuj Sabharwal
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said that there is a need to end “jungle of laws” which are outdated and slows down country’s socio-economic development. He said, “We have five to ten laws on one single issue, laws which are over 100, 150 years, over 50 years old and one interprets it the way he wants.” The statement ‘One interprets it the way he wants’ says a lot about the current laws. In a recent case of abuse of the SC/ST Act, the Supreme Court decided that it needed to step in to prevent misuse of the law. It has been said that Dowry act of 498A and recently amended rape laws are being misused widely as a tool of harassment. The Supreme Court has pointed out:”If the cry of wolf is made too often as a prank, assistance and protection may not be available when the actual wolf appears.” However, there is always another side to the coin. The laws are also being misused and they are twisted inappropriately for the benefit of mighty and powerful. The law breakers are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers instead of their conscience be their guides. The brief look into the few infamous high profile cases can throw much light on this.
We all understand and believe that the legal system is often a mystery and difficult to understand. Recently, the court acquitted Doon MLA Ram Kumar Chaudhary of Congress and eleven others on September 12, 2014 from the charges of infamous murder of Jyoti, a resident of Hoshiarpur, Punjab due to lack of evidence. The questions are being raised over the police investigations. Even after twenty two months of the crime, the question as to who killed Jyoti remains unanswered. She recently had an abortion. CCTV footage of clinic was not obtained and her call details were not properly investigated. Crucial evidence, which served as the basis of the arrest of all accused, fell flat in court. MLA, in his statement to the police, confessed the sequence of events. But they only helped in early arrests and not in conviction. Investigating officers were changed as the investigation was going on. Jyoti’s father Buti Ram said, “All of them are corrupt, right from top to bottom. I will fight till the end and will file an appeal in a High Court.” We all cannot question the court’s order as they are the supreme authorities. None is guilty until and unless his guilt is established by the prosecution.
This is not the first time we have seen that laws can be mended making justice difficult to obtain for a common man. The rich and powerful find a way to escape the prosecution. No one can forget the case of Ruchika’s molestation by powerful man in uniform, Haryana’s former DGP S P S Rathore and subsequent suicide of Ruchika. The case was dragged for 19 years and there were 450 court sittings which resulted in a mere six month punishment. The public outcry and the “remorse less smile on Rathore’s face” resulted in one and a half year punishment. His pension has been started. The case was fought by parents of Ruchika’s friend Aradhana for nineteen years and they also gave up the fight in the year 2009. Anand Prakash, a government employee was falsely accused in corruption cases and when they were not proved, he was transferred with his staff. He had to send his daughter to Australia for her safety. Aradhana’s father said, “If you ask me, the quantum of punishment is not sufficient. One has to have faith in God.” In another high profile case, Gopal Kanda, former Haryana minister, an accused in airhostess Geetika Sharma suicide case got bail and is now contesting Assembly elections of Haryana in October, 2014. Interestingly, Kanda’s manifesto includes laptops for students of government middle and high schools. The charges of sexual exploitation were also dropped.
In another case, the three Delhi Jal Board officials who were accused of raping and filming a manager of Kaveri Infrastructure were also set free by High Court as the FIR was quashed. The case went for eight long years. They were given benefit of doubt as their cell phone locations do not match the site of incident! The police closure report said it hints towards a conspiracy to implicate them falsely in a rape case with some ulterior motive. It was said that she was in constant touch with the accused, an employee of Delhi Jal Board on the day of the incident and also the owner of Kaveri infrastructure.
These are only a handful of cases which throw a light on the loopholes in our legal system. Law abiding agencies also need a bit of correction so that the accused do not twist them. It is said that an incompetent lawyer can delay a trial for months or years. A competent lawyer can delay one even longer. Last but not the least, Nirbhaya’s brutal tormentor only gets three years in remand home. Oops! It’s a correction home.