Crime and Punishment

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King. The administration of criminal justice system is primarily composed of the police, courts and prisons. The case flows through this system and the functioning of one component has ripple effects on the rest and hence, also on the final result of delivery of justice.

Manipur is one such state where all these organs work together to miscarry justice and entrap the victims in the never ending nightmare of juggling between the police and courts. One of the most popular reasons Manipur is known for is its consistent high profile crimes, fake encounter killings, drug seizure cases and multi-crore project scams involving people in high positions.

The paradox here is that when the police and courts have friends and when such friends are the ones whose reputation is questionable, how can the people expect effective and timely justice under this criminal justice system? The criminals are in ivory towers and the victims are the general people of Manipur. Thus, the cases become a fight between the powerful and the powerless. For example, in the fake encounter cases, the accused are the police and powerful politicians, Imphal Airport drug haul case, the accused are powerful politicians and their associates, Pallel drug haul case, the accused are former PRO of Assam Rifles and son of a reigning politician, MDS and Loktak Scam (LDA) where the Chairman of these multi crores scams projects was the former Chief Minister and top bureaucrats.

Due to incompetency, the police sometimes mess up with the FIRs, investigation process and violate procedural laws in order to keep the culprits out of the loop of law clearly abusing the authority and power entrusted to them by law. Whenever there is a high profile case, the people do not trust the state police and protest for the case to be entrusted to CBI as witnessed in the past. People simply do not trust the state police but they have to interact with them in the course of their fight at some point of time or the other. People dread this interaction with the police for unpleasant reasons. The police are supposed to protect the life and property of the people. In Manipur, they are more known for other things. But, of recent, the policing have become inclined towards becoming a more public friendly force and cases of encounter have almost come to a full stop.

Looking at the functioning of the Courts, repeated unreasonable adjournments, ineffective and unethical lawyering, tedious legal process, stretched time period and ‘incompetent’ judges, arbitrary orders and judgment that favor the big culprits are all injustices that have marred the cases. Fighting these cases involve huge cost of money, time and manpower that the victims do not have. The final judgment of these cases will decide the future quality of the meaning of right to life and personal liberty. There are ample of public evidence available on how courts abuse law and authority in order to save the culprits.

In short, the Judiciary sometimes behaves as an accomplice to the crime. There is this protest going on regarding the appointment of Advocate General from the local lawyers. We must also remember that some of our own local lawyers and local judges have integrity and some may have sold out. However, bringing about timely and effective justice for the people is delayed, the AG is still not appointed yet. Justice is about fairness and as they say that justice delayed is justice denied.

The Police and Judiciary needs to pull up their pants and work to leave a better legacy for a better tomorrow.

Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba

Source: Imphal Free Press

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