Economic Times Slams NIA’s U-Turn in Malegaon Blasts; Says ‘Rot in Criminal Justice System’ Disgraceful

0

criminal justice system

Caravan Desk

NEW DELHIEconomic Times, the leading Indian English daily from the Times of India group, has slammed the sensational U-turn made by the National Investigation Agency in the probe into the 2008 Malegaon blasts, attributed to the extremist Hindu groups like Abhinav Bharat.

In a strongly worded editorial on Monday, May 16, the financial daily noted that the NIA’s reversal of stand in the first attacks ascribed to Hindu terror groups points to a “rot in India’s criminal justice system.”

The paper said: “Today, two years after the BJP-led NDA came to power, media reports that the Malegaon case is being watered down. Papers have mysteriously disappeared, witnesses have turned hostile, charges are being dropped — or relaxed — against many accused. Former special public prosecutor Rohini Salian alleged last year that the present government had asked her to soft-pedal the case. A PIL was subsequently filed in the Supreme Court to take cognisance of her charges. All this proves India’s criminal justice system is indifferent, inefficient, anything but impartial, and mostly supine in the face of political pressure. It is a disgrace!”

Following is the full text of the ET editorial

Malegaon shows rot in criminal justice system

“The tale of the investigation into the September 29, 2008, blasts in Malegaon, Maharashtra, which killed seven, is itself a curious — if not cruel — story. It was among the first attacks to be ascribed to ‘Hindu terror’ groups, among them shadowy organisations like the Abhinav Bharat. Among the main suspects were ‘Sadhvi’ Pragya Singh Thakur and a serving military officer, Colonel P S Purohit. By 2009, Pramod Muthalik, the head of another murky organisation, the Hindu Rashtra Sene, was apparently videographed, saying that the blasts were to demonstrate how Hindus could retaliate against their ‘oppression’. Much of the initial investigation was conducted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, led by Hemant Karkare, killed during the November 26, 2008, attack.

Today, two years after the BJP-led NDA came to power, media reports that the Malegaon case is being watered down. Papers have mysteriously disappeared, witnesses have turned hostile, charges are being dropped — or relaxed — against many accused. Former special public prosecutor Rohini Salian alleged last year that the present government had asked her to soft-pedal the case. A PIL was subsequently filed in the Supreme Court to take cognisance of her charges. All this proves India’s criminal justice system is indifferent, inefficient, anything but impartial, and mostly supine in the face of political pressure. It is a disgrace.

Numbers support this. There are more than 30 million cases pending in court. Of the 4,00,000 people locked up in jail, 68% are so-called ‘undertrials’: neither convicted nor acquitted, but incarcerated. An astonishing 70% of our prison population is illiterate, unable to fully comprehend the charges against them or navigate the labyrinths of law. The Chief Justice of India recently said we need 70,000 judges to quickly dispose of all cases — we now have only 18,000. Our sleuths prefer to extract quick confessions under duress from ‘suspects’ to doing any investigative or forensic legwork. This is a blot on a democracy that likes to claim it plays by the rule of law. Sherlock Holmes would have blanched at the state of affairs here.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here