Tamil Nadu

Demand for instant justice impossible to meet: judge

‘Knee-jerk reactions will not help in addressing crimes against women, children’

“Ours is a society of people full of emotions and knee-jerk reactions. The moment a horrendous crime is committed, our hearts beat for the victim, and the moment the trial is over and the accused is convicted, our hearts beat for the convicts,” said Justice V. Ramasubramanian of the Supreme Court here on Saturday.

Addressing a national conference organised jointly by the Madras High Court and Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy (TNSJA) on ‘Speedy and effective trial of offences against women and children,’ he went on to say: “Judiciary and law enforcement agencies often get caught in between these two types of heart beats.

“Unfortunately, we, judicial officers and law enforcement agencies, are supposed to work through our heads and not hearts. There is a complete disconnect between the hearts of society and the heads of the law-enforcement agencies and the judicial officers. This is where I think the conundrum lies.”

Disha Act

The result of the craving for instant justice was the enactment of laws such as the recent Disha Act, passed by the Andhra Pradesh legislature after the brutal gang rape-cum-murder of a young veterinarian, prescribing seven days for completing investigation and 21 days for delivering the judgment in heinous rape cases, he said. “We do not know whether it is actually possible, given the way crimes are committed these days, to complete investigation in seven days and deliver judgment in 21 days. As rightly pointed by the Chief Justice [Amreshwar Pratap Sahi of Madras High Court], the accused has a host of remedies under other laws. Therefore, it is impossible for us to match the demands for instant justice ... When we are caught in between these two extremes, delays occur and society blames the law-enforcement agencies and the judiciary for such delays without realising that anyone who steps into our shoes will also face the very same problem,” he added.

Justice Ramasubramanian said, the cry of the Indian judiciary and investigating agencies had been aptly summarised in a plague placed outside the headquarters of Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States. The plague contains excerpts of a letter written by FBI’s legendary director J. Edgar Hoover to the President of his country.

Piqued over the US Senate turning down his repeated proposals for allotment of more funds to the investigating agency, Mr. Hoover wrote: “We, the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. But we have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”

Impressing upon the need to strengthen the support systems, such as training and recruiting highly qualified forensic science experts, the judge said governments should actually concentrate on establishing world-class forensic science departments in universities and colleges and shift their focus to digital forensics and other emerging fields.

“I do not know how many of you have watched the Hollywood movie Taken... The statistics show that in Europe, if a girl child goes missing and if you are unable to trace her within 48 hours, you can never trace her back. But that is not the situation in India. Therefore, when we emulate western models, we should also think of our strengths,” he added.

In her address, Justice Indira Banerjee of the Supreme Court expressed shock over a criminal appeal that came up before her Bench recently regarding a crime committed in 1978. She said as many as seven accused in the case had died and the lone survivor was now seeking suspension of sentence on the ground of age.

Justice R. Subbiah, chairman of the Board of Governors of TNSJA and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, member of the Board of Governors, expressed satisfaction over judges from 18 High Courts and judicial officers from the length and breadth of the country showing keen interest in attending the national conference.

Advocate General Vijay Narayan said the Tamil Nadu government had always been in the forefront when it came to supporting the judiciary for speedy and effective trial of offences against crime and children by creating a number of special courts. Despite best efforts, cases get dragged for years together, he said.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 5:43:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/demand-for-instant-justice-impossible-to-meet-judge/article30832658.ece

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