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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016


raffic accidents have stopped shocking whether it is the death of one or a dozen people, by the blueline buses or the brats of the rich or of high and mighty, by their pricy vehicles. A teenaged girl driving rashly and negligently, in a hit and run case, killed a young engineering student and his five year old cousin, who were on their motor cycle in Chandigarh. A witness had said that the girl was drunk but as she surrendered the next day, the charge of drunken driving could not be sustained. But after surrender, she was promptly given bail. Incidentally, she was studying in the USA, where punishment for this kind of offence is much more serious along with the permanent deprivation of the driving license.

For cancelling a driving license in our country is tortuous. Even if it is rarely done, there are plenty of avenues to get licenses from other States, both genuine and fake. It is so as the Government does not have a National Register of Driving licenses, like as of All India Arms licenses or a National Register of Citizens.

The maximum punishment for this crime under the law is two years imprisonment, if found guilty. The statistics for the year 2007 show that India has registered 4,18,657 road accidents with 1,14,590 fatalities, which comes to 313.94 causalities per day or 13.08 traffic deaths per hour or a death every 4.58 minutes. We are still carrying on the laws given to us by the Britishers in 1863, in which we make a fine distinction between an act which does not amount to murder and a murder committed with a motive or due to malice. A killing is still a killing whether it is done by a truck or a car or another vehicle.

The Satyam Scam ( put variously at Rs. 24,000 crores to 35,000 crores) accused was given bail on health ground. Satyam case is nothing but a mockery of the justice. CBI has traced more than 400 fictitious companies floated by the main accused Raju and his associates for the purpose of diverting the alleged proceeds of the crime. Nearly 2000 acres of land, acquired by Raju and his family with the proceeds of crime has been identified by the CBI.

Incidentally, Satyam founder Raju had confessed to the crime of Rs.7000 crores, on 7th January, 2009. The point here is that once the accused has confessed his crime, do we need to go on with the case by producing witnesses after witnesses in the court and prolonging the trial for years together. A simple amendment to the laws has to be made that after an accused has voluntarily confessed to crime, the court will proceed to dispose of the case on the basis of his confession. Heavens will not fall and no rights of the accused under the Constitution will be adversely affected because such a confession, to be admissible in the court of law, is always made before a Judicial Magistrate, competent to record confession. It will send the right message that the accused has been punished on his own confession.

This exactly happened in the case of the surviving terrorist of the Mumbai attacks where even after two years, the accused is still to be punished. With this kind of approach in dealing with the criminals, we are giving an impression to the common citizens that law is more keen to give escape routes, to the criminals rather than punishing them for their well deserved crimes.

The Supreme Court observed on 17th August, 2010 again that "the criminal justice system is either crumbling or has crumbled", after taking note that the High Courts had stayed trials and later forgot all about the cases.

According to the information furnished to the Supreme Court, 10,541 criminal trials were stayed by Allahabad High Court. Of these, 9% were pending for more than 20 years and 21% for over a decade. This means that the stay of trial in 30% of heinous offences continued for more than 10 years.

Judiciary is proclaimed by all high and mighty as one of the pillars of good governance and democracy, but successive Governments have starved it of the funds and wherewithal to improve the justice delivery system.

It is a fact that the Government had meted out stepmotherly treatment to the judiciary, leading to a huge pendency in subordinate courts. The Chief Justice of India observed on 18th August, 2010, "Time has come for the judiciary to raise its own resources to meet expenses on account of judicial infrastructure, which is lacking in several States". The Court has decided to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), under which money, as and when raised, would be earmarked for "judicial infrastructure".

In 2004, the present Prime Minister, while addressing a conference of Chief Ministers and Justices had said that the Government litigation, including the appeals, which mostly fail, accounts for 70% of cases, which outcrowds the citizens cases. He had also observed that such appeals should not have been filed in the first instance.

You do not need Solomon's Intelligence to take corrective measures, if you wish. If the Government waits to do everything till it is absolutely right, as it has been doing for so called consultations, it will not probably do anything to change the present state of affairs. The Prime Minister is considered as the top leader in the world. He knows the way. He should not only go the way, but also show the way.

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