In a 1999 movie Sleepy Hollow, Constable Ichabod Crane, in 1790, impresses upon the Courts to introduce scientific methods of investigation. Time has come now when we, in 2012, should make sure that the infrastructure of our investigation unit of police is well equipped, state of the art and is manned by motivated people with expertise.
It is conveniently easy to use the following phrases:
- “Judicial Delay”;
- “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”; and
- “Fast Track Courts”.
But the matter from the stage of registering a first information report (FIR) to the verdict by a Judge goes through extensive process of trial and examination of evidence and witnesses.
Unlike some jurisdictions, Indians Courts do not follow the system of a Judge hearing only one matter for days till it culminates. Our Judges, especially at the level of Magistrate Courts in Delhi hearing many of the trials, hear over 30 cases daily. It is only natural that no matter gets listed before 3-4 months from the last date.
The present state of affairs in the field of forensic evidence is one of the main reason why delay takes place during the trial stage. The term forensic evidence means that a specially trained team of the police force collects crucial evidence at the scene of crime. Such evidences are not visible to the naked eye and play a key role in identifying the accused. Imagine a scenario where the accused left a strand of his hair which, by identification through the DNA, led to his arrest and conviction amazingly quick. It is not a tale but a basic task which the foreign police force does.
Sadly, the conditions of our forensic labs and the staff has left much to be desired here for the speedy disposal of the cases. The instant post will not touch upon the legal jargon about criminal trial but will give readers an outlook about the state of affairs of our forensic investigations.
Situation in Court:
As of now, the situation in the Courts is not very conducive when we have to await a report from the forensic laboratory. In various cases, the author has seen how the judge has to adjourn the matter simply because the report from the laboratory is awaited. In one of the matters pending in Delhi High Court, a Judge had to adjourn the matter directing the laboratory to prepare and file the report. However, the laboratory replied that the report could be prepared only on a certain date and the staff of police can have it collected.
In one of the instance, a Sessions Judge noted that the delay occurred not due to lack of manpower in the lab but due to non availability of a chemical for DNA finger printing. It is a matter of common knowledge in legal circles that in criminal trials, the samples from Delhi have gone to far off places like Hyderabad, etc. for examination.
Another catalyst in delay in criminal trial occurs due to the examination of the doctors who conduct post-mortem procedure. This procedure takes places in all Government hospital in significant numbers daily. As a lawyer, I feel it is utmost cumbersome for a doctor to depose in a trial after 12 years of the post-mortem and then depose what all he can recall. The deposition of the doctors should be done away with unless specifically asked by the defense counsel. It serves none if the doctor is called 12 years after doing the procedure and is asked to recall what he can. The post-mortem report should be uploaded on the National Informatics Centre server immediately to be accessible to the officials and Judges.
The author finds it utmost difficult to coordinate with the police for the anti-counterfeiting actions to curtail intellectual property piracy (copyright and trademark) since the particular policeman might be occupied in other duties, attending to Courts, etc. It is paramount that each police station has separate force solely dedicated to forensic investigation and this team is not doing the routine work like appearing in Courts, etc. except for the matter they are looking for.
After being in power since 1999, the CM has realised only now publicly that we need fast track courts. But to someone like the author, it is pure baffling how a Central Govt, of predominantly Congress party, cannot work in tandem with the State Govt, of only Congress.
This should end.
Where is all the money going? Why our Govt is more willing to spend money in newspaper ads on particular days in remembering our historic icons but not caring about the citizens? In a RTI application, the author came to know that, at an average, the Govt. departments spend more than 20 crores in one year merely on beautification of parks in Delhi!
Is it advisable?
The author deems it a criminal waste of money.
Even 500 fast track courts will not bear any result if the Judge will keep waiting for the forensic evidence for years and years. Such is the scenario. Need of the hour is not coming to TV studios in alleged debates and campaign for next elections but to see where the Govt. can work and improve.