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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RULE OF LAW - No innocent shall ever be punished !!

All newspapers headline carry the verdict of trial court – this a concern of an ordinary citizen on the rule of law, the path the criminal cases traverse, the treatment the under trials get and the time that it takes for the punishment (as and when done !). In movies, those in jail would wear jail uniform, stand in the queue for their daily kanji and would do manual labour. Incarceration is a punishment and criminals are to undergo punishment by being behind the bars – it is no place for luxurious living.

The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, nay an attack on the Nation which began on 26 November 2008 and lasted until 29 November, killing at least 173 people and wounding at least 308. The dead included committed Police officers and trained military personnel, sacrificing themselves for the cause of the Nation. The entire sordid episode would have had a different dimension; some local media (& some foreign media) would have painted stories of pain thrust on thyself but for the lone terrorist who was caught alive.

This terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amîr Kasâb was imprisoned. His acts had been captured on CCTV at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Tukaram Omble did not think of his life, lost his and ensured capture of Kasab. He was imprisoned ; based on newspaper reports, the cost in maintenance of this criminal is Rs.8.5 lakhs per day, who has been provided medical and legal assistance by the Nation for waging WAR AGAINST THE NATION. A special cell was created in the JJ hospital and bullet proof room had cost the Nation a crore of rupees. During this period, Kasab asked for Urudu times and permission to walk in the verandah.

The rule of law is a legal maxim which encompasses legal principles forming the foundation of a civilised society. Not a single innocent person should be punished and every one is entitled to a fair trial are the maxims. The criminal procedure for adjudicating whether one has violated criminal law provides a long rope and much of time. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond doubt. That calls for substantive evidence. How many would be willing to adduce evidence and whether they will be distorted are tough questions to answer.

It is irony that after 18 months of state benevolence to the accused, the verdict has come. Still the 26/11 trial is touted to be the fastest ever terror trial in India – which recorded 3912 pages of evidence, 658 witnesses being examined in 271 days. The 1993 Mumbai serial blasts took year to complete.

Even for a thing which was telecast live, watertight evidence was required. This was the most heinous crime of waging war, causing terror and murdering innocent people. With all this, he only faces the prospect of death by hanging. If death penalty is awarded it is stated that HC will have to confirm it regardless of whether the accused appeals or not as this only a Trial Court and legal battle can prolong to Supreme Court and President can commute death – 51 pending already. Six of the 86 charges only did not stick that too for technical reasons.

Those who lost their lives include Hemant Karkare, Saluskar, Omble, Ashok Kamte, Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan and host of others. In this sordid episode the 11 year old girl who was maimed by a bullet injury, fell unconscious but held her nerve to nail the culprit in Court six months later deserves special appreciation. Her testimony was an important point in the trial. On June 10, 2009, the young girl appeared in crutches in Court and identified Kasab from among the three accused. The girl reportedly said "I don't want other children to face what I had to go through. I do not want people to become a victim of terror”. The girl was only nine and for no fault of hers carries her disability for the rest of her life.
Should the culprits be allowed to go scot free ? Are we too soft a Nation ?? whether democracy is too elongated a process ? Where will all these delay lead us to ?
Appeal, Presidential clemency all should be part of a process perhaps for some who had committed some crime in a emotional spur and repents later – Should they be granted for hard core trained criminals whose aim was to main the Nation is to be thought of ?

Regards – Sampathkumar.

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