No matter how hard we all who are in the legal profession may try to deny but it is an unpalatable fact that the image of judiciary has taken a severe beating in the eyes of the people in last few decades as the criminals mostly escape either totally unscathed or face very lenient punishment which is just not done. Very rarely do we see them getting the strict punishment which they deserve also! It is high time and judiciary must now come out of its comfort zone and take strong steps to salvage its sagging reputation in the eyes of the people! Laws must be amended now to favour the victim and not the criminal as we see most unfortunately right now much to our chagrin!
If judiciary had ensured that Vikas Dubey was sentenced promptly to even 14 years in jail without any relief, he probably would not have been able to spread his criminal roots so deep in the society that permeated not just politicians but even the police! Why are murderers accused allowed to come out so easily on bail? Why are history sheeters allowed to not just come out on bail but also contest elections?
Why judiciary allows even dacoits and hard core criminals to contest elections and become MPs and MLAs? Why when for getting even a small job, one has to get police verification done and even a single false case disqualifies one to get the small job but for politicians who rule this country is it that even after facing 1000 criminal cases still they are not rendered ineligible? Why are they allowed to contest even from jails? It is here that judiciary has most miserably failed as it has done nothing to contain it due to which the percentage of politicians with criminal antecedents are increasing very rapidly with every passing election!
Why those who commit brutal crimes are allowed to get away by following the “rarest of rare case” doctrine propounded in Bachan Singh’s case by Supreme Court in 1980 which ensures that rarely ever is a hardened criminal ever hanged? Why it takes several decades before the case is finally decided? Why even after Supreme Court sentences a criminal is he allowed to fritter away time by first filing mercy petition, then filing review petition and then filing curative petition and worst of all no time limit is fixed for deciding mercy petition, review petition and curative petition?
Why there is no mandatory death penalty for gang rape and rape cum murder? Why are “discretion bombs” in form of “may” not defused in rape laws so that criminals don’t gain from it? Why judiciary has ensured that just a few rapists-cum-murderers are hanged in last many decades which has only served to further encourage criminals?
Why are witnesses not accorded full protection and why is it not ensured that they are saved from being killed? Why a witness has to depend on himself to ensure his/her protection and reach court safely at his/her own risk in most of the cases due to which many times they are either badly wounded or are even killed? Why are witness protection schemes not fully implemented in all the States and why judiciary does not take any action to ensure that the same is done urgently?
Why judiciary has miserably failed to ensure that its own landmark recommendations on police reforms as outlined in Prakash Singh case in 2006 have not been implemented even after 14 years in 2020? Why in cases of custodial torture, judiciary does not ensure that those who are guilty of torturing and killing innocent persons are not just sent behind bars but also are sent to the gallows? Why judiciary does not realize that lenient approach to custodial torture only results in police getting emboldened to indulge in more such tortures and many times we see that innocent persons face the most worst brunt?
Why has judiciary not ensured that for cases of corruption involving crores of rupees there is mandatory death penalty? Why instead do we see many times that those involved in corrupt cases are allowed to easily secure bail? Why judiciary has failed to act tough against corrupt people in last so many decades after independence?
Why is it that when a truly dedicated and determined Chief Minister like Yogi Adityanath of UP known all over for his impeccable conduct and firm determination to weed out criminals from each and every hook and corner of the state and decides to “name and shame criminals” who indulge in destroying public and private property, burning buses, vehicles etc do we see that judiciary steps in and speaks vociferously for protecting the “right to privacy’ of criminals just like Allahabad High Court did? Why is it that protesters were allowed by judiciary to block national highway at Shaheen Bagh for more than 100 days and none other than the Supreme Court appointed a high powered Committee comprising of senior lawyers like Sanjay Hegde which only further emboldens others to similarly indulge in such anti-national acts? Why protesters are allowed to block rail tracks etc as we saw earlier during the Gurjar reservation stir and why judiciary is not prepared to do anything to stop it forthwith?
Why judiciary feels that there is nothing wrong in hanging just one poor Dhananjoy Chatterjee who was the son of a priest and that too on just circumstantial evidence alone in decades and not allowing the son of a former top IPS cop to be hanged even though there was direct evidence and the murder was committed most ruthlessly as we saw in Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case and the accused who was a senior in a Law College is set free after about just 14 years or so in prison? Why judiciary holds its hand very tight to ensure that many rapists cum murderers are able to easily escape death penalty even after committing the most ghastly and most dastardly crime? Why judiciary never does any serious introspection on this that by not hanging rich and powerful rapists cum murderers, they only serve to send a loud and clear message that the rich and powerful can get away by doing anything in their life?
Why judiciary ensures that those who commit most heinous offences like rape, murder etc are given bail after some time like few months or an year at the most? Why judiciary never cares to see that those very offender who comes out on bail once again resorts to crime and destroy the life of yet another person most easily? Why judiciary allows criminals to contest from jails and get bail very easily even after committing most horrifying crime just by paying money for surety etc which the rich and the powerful don’t find any difficulty in doing so?
Why judiciary ensures that criminals gain most in hugely populated state like UP which has maximum pending cases all over India by having just one high court bench and that too just about 200 km away from Allahabad high court at Lucknow since 1948 and no bench in remote areas like West UP where more than 9 crore people live and litigants have to travel more than 700 km on an average to travel all the way to Allahabad to get justice due to which victims suffer the most? Why judiciary ensures that peaceful states like Maharashtra which tops in justice index list has 4 high court benches and UP which is in the bottom among all big states has just one? Why judiciary ensures that Centre led by the then Congress government partially implements the landmark recommendations to create more high court benches at Maharashtra in Aurangabad, at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu but not a single for UP for which it had recommended 3 high court benches at Agra, Dehradun and Nainital? Why judiciary behaves like a helpless spectator knowing fully well that many former UP CM have supported the demand for more benches in UP and Yogi Adityanath had demanded for Gorakhpur in 1999 while in his capacity as an MP from there?
Why judiciary knowing fully well that West UP accounts for more than 57% of the total criminal pending cases in UP as was acknowledged even by Justice Jaswant Singh Commission in his report has never ensured that a high court bench is created here? Why can’t judiciary take the lead in this direction instead of passing the buck always on Centre? Why for just 6 crore people of Karnataka there is a high court and 3 benches but for more than 9 crore people of West UP there is not even a bench?
Why UP which has more than 23 crore population has just one high court bench due to which cases are not being decided in time and it is criminals who are having a gala time and still judiciary decides to play safe even though it acknowledges that West UP deserves a high court bench? Why judiciary fails to appreciate that the more than 9 crore people of West UP especially the litigants have to suffer immeasurably due to no bench being created here? Why can’t UP have more high court benches?
Why can’t judiciary ensure that those who are arrested for heinous offences are not able to come out on bail after just few months? Why can’t judiciary be more proactive to ensure just like UP CM Yogi Adityanath to ensure that no one is allowed to block roads, rail tracks under any circumstances? Why instead should judiciary question UP CM instead who has always lead from the front in taking on criminals which only encourages anti-social elements and lumpen elements to take law for granted and indulge in destruction of public and private property, blocking of road, rail etc?
Can our nation afford it? Can our nation afford more Shaheen Bagh? Let me reiterate: Judiciary must now come out of its comfort zone and do some honest introspection on this!
Needless to say, Supreme Court certainly has heavily blundered on Shaheen Bagh by not ordering the prompt removal of protesters from highway and instead forming Committee to talk with them who broke law and caused maximum inconvenience to commuters! Judiciary is certainly capable of punishing criminals only if it stops kowtowing before them on one pretext or the other! Criminal cases should not linger for several decades as we see most unfortunately for which it is judiciary which has to act decisively now!
No doubt, bail should not be given ever for heinous offences like rape, murder etc! Only then can criminals be checked most effectively! Clearly, the ball lies now in the court of the judiciary!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh