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Criminal justice system not working properly: SC

Last Updated: Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 13:34

New Delhi: Irked by the Allahabad High
Court`s "casual approach" in acquitting a man charged with
rape and kidnapping, the Supreme Court has observed that
criminal justice system is "not working" properly in the
country and recommended urgent steps to stem the rot.

"We are constrained to observe that criminal justice
system is not working in our country as it should," said a
bench of justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha.

It advised that the criminal cases relating to
offences against the State, corruption, dowry death, domestic
violence, sexual assault, financial fraud and cyber crimes are
fast-tracked and decided in a fixed time frame, preferably,
within three years.

Slamming the High Court for setting aside the trial
court order through a "cryptic and perfunctory" verdict, based
on "conjectures and surmises", it cautioned, "We must remember
that a strong and efficient criminal justice system is a
guarantee to the rule of law and vibrant civil society."

Upset by the High Court acquitting "an accused
convicted of a serious crime" without "application of mind",
the bench went on to list several maladies plaguing the
country`s criminal justice system and recommending urgent
steps to stem the rot.

"The criminal trials are protracted because of
non-appearance of official witnesses on time and the
non-availability of the facilities for recording evidence by
video conferencing," said the bench.

"The public prosecutors have their limitations. The
defence lawyers do not make themselves available and the court
would be routinely informed about their pre-occupation with
other matters. The courts remain over-burdened with the briefs
listed on the day and they do not have adequate
infrastructure," the bench said.

Listing other maladies, the bench said, "The
adjournments thus have become routine and the casualty is
justice.

"It is imperative that the criminal cases relating to
offences against the State, corruption, dowry death, domestic
violence, sexual assault, financial fraud and cyber crimes are
fast-tracked and decided in a fixed time frame, preferably,
within three years," the bench said.

It was high time that immediate and urgent steps were
taken in amending the procedural and other laws to achieve the
above objectives, it cautioned.

While expressing its frustration over various
shortcoming plaguing the judiciary, the bench also touched the
issue of police reform saying they "are yet to take place
despite (September 2006) directions of this (apex) court."

Restraining itself from making elaborate comment over
the issue, being adjudicated by a different three-judge bench,
it, however, said, "The investigators hardly have professional
orientation. They do not have modern tools.

"And on many occasions impartial investigation suffers
because of political interference," the bench added.

PTI

First Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 13:34
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