New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Irked by the Allahabad HighCourt''s "casual approach" in acquitting a man charged withrape and kidnapping, the Supreme Court has observed thatcriminal justice system is "not working" properly in thecountry and recommended urgent steps to stem the rot.
"We are constrained to observe that criminal justicesystem is not working in our country as it should," said abench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha.
It advised that the criminal cases relating tooffences against the State, corruption, dowry death, domesticviolence, sexual assault, financial fraud and cyber crimes arefast-tracked and decided in a fixed time frame, preferably,within three years.
Slamming the High Court for setting aside the trialcourt order through a "cryptic and perfunctory" verdict, basedon "conjectures and surmises", it cautioned, "We must rememberthat a strong and efficient criminal justice system is aguarantee to the rule of law and vibrant civil society."Upset by the High Court acquitting "an accusedconvicted of a serious crime" without "application of mind",the bench went on to list several maladies plaguing thecountry''s criminal justice system and recommending urgentsteps to stem the rot.
"The criminal trials are protracted because ofnon-appearance of official witnesses on time and thenon-availability of the facilities for recording evidence byvideo conferencing," said the bench.
"The public prosecutors have their limitations. Thedefence lawyers do not make themselves available and the courtwould be routinely informed about their pre-occupation withother matters. The courts remain over-burdened with the briefslisted on the day and they do not have adequateinfrastructure," the bench said.
Listing other maladies, the bench said, "Theadjournments thus have become routine and the casualty isjustice.
"It is imperative that the criminal cases relating tooffences against the State, corruption, dowry death, domesticviolence, sexual assault, financial fraud and cyber crimes arefast-tracked and decided in a fixed time frame, preferably,within three years," the bench said.
It was high time that immediate and urgent steps weretaken in amending the procedural and other laws to achieve theabove objectives, it cautioned.
While expressing its frustration over variousshortcoming plaguing the judiciary, the bench also touched theissue of police reform saying they "are yet to take placedespite (September 2006) directions of this (apex) court."
Restraining itself from making elaborate comment overthe issue, being adjudicated by a different three-judge bench,it, however, said, "The investigators hardly have professionalorientation. They do not have modern tools."And on many occasions impartial investigation suffersbecause of political interference," the bench added. (MORE)PTI RAX SC