How to bring high profile people to justice
Aditya, from middle class family was shot dead by the Ricky (son of a Bihar MLC) on May 7, 2016 for overtaking his car. Police didn’t arrest the accused for many days, didn’t collect proper evidence, leaving several legal loopholes behind, allowing his MLC mother to run away from the arrest.
A group of UP police men set fire to a journalist on behalf of a state minister because the journalist dared to write truth against the minister. The incident was highlighted by almost all media houses for numerous days. The victim’s family was threatened, cajoled and finally the case went into cold storage and effectively nothing happened against neither the policemen nor the minister.
There are many more such cases in our country where powerful people were involved. The police, court and the state Govt machinery are unable to a file proper case against such people with sufficient evidences and do not manage to get them punished.
Mr Omprakash Chautala, his son and various other people were involved in primary teachers’ appointment in Haryana during his tenure as the CM. This case was investigated by the Delhi police and heard by Delhi court. Proper evidences could be collected because investigation was not done by own state police and monitored by supreme court and the court proved the culprits guilty and punished them accordingly. This decision was approved by the higher courts. Presently, the fugitives are behind the bars. This is one of such rare instances against a Chief Minister, where they were subjected to repercussions.
Jayalalitha‘s case of disproportionate asset was heard by the Bengaluru court (outside own state) and was sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment. It was the first case when an incumbent Chief Minister had to step down after verdict.
All these examples convey various facts, few of them are
State police and all agencies involved in investigation face tremendous pressure and find it difficult to investigate free and fairly any case involving high and mighty people in the state such as the ministers, MLAs, MPs, senior bureaucrat. The police don’t collect proper evidence; leaves behind various legal shortcomings which allows them to escape. Few of such instances mentioned above and more are like: Manu Sharma in Jessica Lal case, Salman Khan hit and run case.
There are higher chances of better investigation and prosecution if cases are investigated by high court/Supreme Court monitored SIT or CBI.
There are low chances of free and fair investigation and trial by any machinery against their own higher ups while being in chair or influential people in same jurisdiction. How can a state machinery investigate without fear and favour against a sitting CM?
What is the way out?
There is no error free way out of this until our system becomes more transparent, accountable and some better way out is found to handle such situations. The police should be free from the control of politicians and more independent in working as recommended by The Supreme Court as part of Police reforms.
Few options which can help in this direction in current scenario are
The case involving powerful people must be immediately transferred to the nearby state police, court where the ruling party is different. Say if Bihar’s ruling parties are RJD-JDU and an MLC’s son has committed a crime then such case must be transferred to nearby state with different ruling party (preferably which is not even partner with this party in any coalition). Say this case is transferred to Jharkhand where BJP is in power. The objective will be to get a police force, doctors and court, which can work independently without any political interference, favour or fear. The investigating police should be given complete freedom like asking the local police for any raid etc. It will reduce chances of culprit getting local police favour.
Central independent agencies like the Supreme Court (or any appointed body) or the CBI should immediately come in action to assign such cases to an appropriate state, as discussed above.
Mutual nexus situation must be avoided. For example the Bihar cases handled in Jharkhand and the Jharkhand case in Bihar. It has a chance of mutual benefit (you scratch my back, i scratch your back) so must be avoided.
Take care to avoid any such nexus among more than 2 states as well. Suppose state A cases are handled by state B. State B cases are handled by state C and state C cases are handled by state A. It is possible to establish a nexus among these states. Such situations must be avoided even if cases are required to go to a farther state.
The media has done a good job of covering high profile cases at every level in few cases and got the culprit punished in the cases of Jessica Lal, Nitesh Katara etc. The media should cover these cases at each step till the end, rather than just highlighting for few days and then forgetting.
Public demonstrations put immense pressure on the Govt, investigation agencies and the court like in the case of Nirbhaya. The court had sentenced in record time period. Police had investigated efficiently collecting and examining all evidences, leaving no legal loophole behind.
Social media is very powerful tool which could create wonders without people physically going on streets. One such good example is file online petition on website www.change.org. People may create such more platforms and start incident specific campaign to get people support. This support may be covered by media and/or forwarded to right institutes like PM, CM, honourable High/Supreme court etc.
A nationalist thinker