What Justice? – on acquitting the prisoners on death sentence

Source: The post is based on an article What Justice?published in Times of India on 9th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2- Governance

Relevance: lapses in the criminal justice system

News: Supreme Court has recently acquitted three prisoners awarded death sentence by the trial court and Delhi HC in the 2012 Chawla gangrape murder case. This has raised concerns over the lapses in the criminal justice system.

Why did SC acquit the prisoners?

Lack of cross-examination: SC found that witnesses were not properly cross-examined which made the chances for wrong conclusions.

Lapses in the investigation: A test identification parade of the accused wasn’t conducted despite there were some eyewitnesses to the victim’s kidnapping.

Lack of proper hearing by the court: The trial court and Delhi HC accepted the police version on the accused’s arrest without any supportive evidence.

Violation of procedures:  The manner of discovering evidence, collecting samples and dispatching them for forensic analysis violated procedures. This created space for wrong conclusions.

The trial court and HC awarded death penalties despite such irregularities.

What is the current position of acquittal cases in India?

NLU Delhi’s Project 39A reveals 33 prisoners on death row were acquitted nationwide in 2021.

This is a huge number as such acquittal raises doubt on the procedures followed by courts, wastes time of the accused and creates injustice to the victims.

Therefore, a proper investigation and hearing should be done to bring justice and maintain the trust of citizens in the judiciary and police.

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