Monday, February 27, 2006

Judicial worries

Two recent court verdicts in India, drag the judicial system to two opposite direction. The interesting thing is that both these cases have a common thread.One survived inspite of it and the other died in the court system because of it. I am referring to 'hostile' witness and witness recanting previous statements made in front of a judge, or claiming to have made them under coercion from the police etc. I always wondered, specially when Zahira kept going back and forth with her statements, why the perjury laws were not invoked. In the US, typically the witness will get a contempt order from the court almost immediately. Hmmm.... i take that back, it usually happens in the movies, i am not sure about real life scenarios. I used to watch the court tv (a dedicated TV channel for high profile court cases).

The court system in Mumbai, finally giving justice to those killed in the Best Bakery case in Gujarat riots. This inspite of Zahira. Finally some justice to the people who were killed. It also good to see that the judge in this case, has attempted to take the matter regarding hostile witness and perjury very seriously. Irrespective of the reason why Zahira recanted her statements, i would like the courts to persue this matter so that it will set a precedent to be followed in future cases.

Then there is the Jessica Lal murder, where the judge remained a passive observer and allowed eye witnesses to recant their story. Even the bloke Shyan Munshi, who apparently witnessed the murder, and filed the FIR had recanted his initial statement. Thanks to NDTV (news hounds sometimes do a good job), they got some sound-bites out of him. I think it only makes him look even more repulsive. But, before you pass judgement, you do need to be in his shoes to make the call.

The problem today is that witnesses do not have adequate protection available to them and are forced to recant their original statements. But they do that easily today, because they face no consequence of doing so. I think it is time, even to the detriment of some genuine cases, that tougher stances are taken by the judges involved to protect the outcome of a case. New laws may be needed, but i think if judges really do their part, they can stop this now.

9 get life term in Best Bakery case; perjury notice to Zahira - The Tribune - Feb 24 12:55 PM
Jessica Lal case: Judge faces music
Fight for justice: Jessica case gathers momentum

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