Murder, investigation, police and the CBI – too many problems …

The Arushi murder case was finally decided by a court, 5 years after the twin murders of Arushi and the family servant, Hemraj. If there ever was to be a book published on how not to run a murder enquiry, this case can fill in many chapters in the book, and because of the incredible problem areas in the investigation, the verdict was going to be seen with an element of doubt by many people. And this is the state of investigation by the police forces in different states, as well as by a supposedly elite investigation team, the CBI. Right from the beginning, when the case was first seen at by the Noida police, any advanced western country would have thrown out all the evidence because the crime scene was not quarantined, and everybody and anybody could roam around the area thus causing the crime scene evidence to be seen as suspect. And soon after, without much apparent evidence, mostly the lack of evidence, the police arrested the parents and declared that they were the ones who had done it. If you read any impartial storyline of the crime investigation and the holes that have been pointed (including evidence from crime laboratories being re-sent and altered), you would cringe at the state of forensic abilities in the country and the poor standards of police and even CBI investigation.
But even more problematic was the decision in the Shankaracharya case where the shankaracharya was accused of a murder that happened 9 years back. When he was arrested, it was very controversial, and now the judgment comes that he is not guilty. The fine print in the judgment is that even the prosecution witnesses went back on their testimony or otherwise turned hostile. And that is how the judicial system in India is getting perverted. If you remember the Jessica Lal case, the case had collapsed in the lowest court because the legal process was taking its own time, and as a result, the powerful accused was able to use his father’s money and power to turn the witnesses, mostly by scaring them into changing their testimonies; even the forensic expert (who is like a police officer, meant to provide detailed evidence that can make or break cases, was finally convicted of perjury – lying in their testimony). And unlike other countries where somebody who lies in court can sentenced to harsh terms (even somebody as famous as the novelist Jeffrey Archer was sentenced to 4 years for lying), even though a judge may speak out against perjury committed in court, there is really no major punishment for those who lie in front of the court.

This kind of investigative abilities is further wrecked with political interference in investigations. A lot of politicians have been charged with having assets beyond their known means of income, and it would seem that the investigation by the CBI against politicians such as Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati were all based on their current level of support to the Congress (although Congress spokespersons deny all this and claim that the CBI is independent without any interference). However, what can you say about the investigation of the CBI when it managed to convict Laloo Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam case, and yet just some time before this case, closed the disproportionate assets case against him. This was a shock, implying that the CBI could not find anything against Laloo Yadav even though he would have benefited from the fodder scam case. In another case against the Himachal Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, the CBI is not doing any investigation for the past one year even though there was a huge media scandal about payments made to him while he was a central minister.
How do things get resolved ? Can this state of affairs go on ? There are options available to atleast try and reduce some of these problems:
– Isolate the police from political interference
– Make the investigative arm of the police different from the law and order
– Reduce the number of cases, especially since the Government is there in a number of such cases
– Increase the count of judges
– Do evening courts in addition to the normal times
What do we have instead ? We have a law minister in the form of Kapil Sibal who does not seem to have presented any approach on how to increase the credibility of the police and other agencies such as the CBI, whose major contribution was the ‘nonsense’ ordnance on allowing convicted politicians to stand for election, and who know seems to be only working on giving speeches against Modi (and Modi is another guy who refused to let a Lokayukta take power in the state and instead of showing Gujarat as a model state in terms of taking landmark steps against corruption through a mechanism such as the Lokayukta, fought for 10 years to prevent this from happening).

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