Free Press Journal

How much longer will we suffer delayed justice?


Midsection of businessman protecting justice scale with coins at table

The acquittal of all 10 accused in the 2005 Hyderabad bomb blast case by the city’s Metropolitan Sessions Court on Thursday points to the grossly unfair incarceration for over a decade of those who have now been proven innocent. The acquittals followed the failure of prosecution to provide substantial evidence. This is a befitting example of the havoc that delayed justice can wreak on the victims of such treatment. One of the 10 arrested men was out on bail while the others were still in prison.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the Task Force office in the Begumpet area on October 12, 2005. The blast killed a Home Guard and injured another. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted to investigate into the blast and it claimed Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh was involved in the blast. It also identified the suicide bomber as HUJI activist Dalin. Of the total of 20 accused, while 10 have now being acquitted, the SIT claimed that three other accused died in different incidents while the remaining seven were absconding.

Over and over again, lip service is paid to the need to speed up delivery of justice. Governments have come and gone but the issue remains unattended to. At the last count in 2016, more than 22 million cases were found pending in India’s district courts. Six million of those had lasted longer than five years. Another 4.5 million were waiting to be heard in the high courts, and more than 60,000 in the Supreme Court. Doubtlessly, these figures must have gone up further with there being no real action to clear the backlog. In the Union budget for 2016-17 only 0.2 per cent of the total budget was given to the law ministry, one of the lowest proportions in the world.

This hardly reflected any seriousness to work on a war footing in filling up vacancies and in finding innovative solutions to clear the huge backlog of cases in various courts. Earlier this year, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar made an impassioned appeal to his fellow judges to sacrifice their vacation to clear some of the important long-pending cases, but it is a matter of record that it made little difference. The backlog of cases is indeed getting too unwieldy for comfort. It is time the issue be tackled on the highest priority with due participation of the government and the judiciary.