With a motive to delay the exams a Class 11 student is alleged to have slit the throat of a Class 2 student named Pradyuman Thakur at Ryan International School in Gurgaon.
At the outset, police pinned the school bus conductor Ashok Kumar, as the murderer of Pradyuman, after attempting to sexually assault him.
Ashok Kumar was alleged to have confessed to his crime to the police.
They claimed that they had even recovered the knife from him. The CBI has now shifted the blame to a juvenile – a 16-year-old student.AG Perarivalan, a convict, is suffering solitary confinement for the last 23 years on the basis of his confession, of having procured two nine-volt batteries used in the belt of the suicide bomber who assassinated the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Now, the former CBI officer who was the prosecutor, swears before the Supreme Court that a part of his confession, wherein the accused said he had “absolutely no idea” (reason) for such a purchase of the batteries was deleted, while filing the charge-sheet. Thus, it is clear that an innocent has been convicted. Justice KT Thomas, who was one of the Supreme Court Judges to confirm the death sentence on Perarivalan, is now pleading with Sonia Gandhi for a “show of magnanimity” to save the death row prisoners of Rajiv Gandhi.
There have been cases where after persons have been convicted for murder and the murdered has been found alive. In 2015, a young “missing” housewife, who was considered murdered and the body cremated, with the husband and in-laws sent to jail on a murder charge, was found living with another man in Manipur. In a similar case, a 25-year-old woman, who was reported dead by her husband two years ago, was found living with her lover in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur in May, 2017. Such cases of ‘deceased’ victims surfacing alive are not confined to our country alone, but are found all over the world.
Thus, mistaken convictions due to various reasons is possible. The criminal justice system is never beyond flaws. While so, the recent trend to advocate and bat for more and more stringent punishment without even bail during investigation and trial is dangerous.
Shrill cries and debates on stringent punishments to serve as deterrence to others is far beyond justice.
In the recent Swati murder case, we have differing versions on who the accused was. With the alleged ‘murderer’ having died in the prison, the road to discover the truth has been blocked. It is time that we see reason and not be swayed by emotions, while analysing crimes.
However brutal a crime is, it does not permit the state to indulge in hasty, brutal actions in the name of crime investigation and ‘justice for the victim’ to appease the critics.
With 24 hours’ news channels and social medias taking on themselves the authority to pass verdicts of guilt before trial, injustice is perpetuated more and more. The police and judiciary cannot and ought not be swayed by such public opinion.
They have to be guided only by law, which in letter is good; it is up to the executing agencies to make it good in its spirit and avoid acting in haste and repenting in leisure.
—The writer is Senior Advocate, Madras High Court