In the end, it would appear that justice has not be done to any of the people involved in the 11-year-long saga following the Delhi bomb blasts that killed 67 people. Two of the accused have been freed after spending more than a decade in jail. On the face of things, it beggars belief that the police investigative team could have got it so wrong and that too in such a high-profile case. But a closer look at many such incidents, a similar one in Hyderabad for instance, shows that the errors in evidence gathering begin right from the start. The crime scene is almost always compromised due to the police being late to arrive or their inability to cordon it off even when they do. This is the first lapse. Very often we see that all sorts of hasty conclusions are reached and these are publicised with no thought to how this could affect a sensitive case.
The next is in actually zeroing in on the suspects. The easy route is taken and people are picked up on flimsy grounds. The police are yet to adopt sophisticated techniques of extracting information and often resort to using unacceptable methods — with which they are able to get confessions, but these do not stand up to judicial scrutiny. There can be no excuse that the police are not backed by strong enough laws, which is why they fail in successfully building up a watertight case. In a bid to solve cases early and thereby earn plaudits, there have been instances in which corners are cut. Though not in this category, the sensational Aarushi murder case is one that comes to mind.
To return to this case, there was, according to lawyers, evidence of wilful negligence or incompetence in arresting people with little proof. This has led not only to an erosion of faith in the criminal justice system, but also has traumatised Muslims who are most often picked up for terror crimes. In effect, these lapses lead to persons, who may well be innocent, losing several years of their lives and the victims of the outrage are left in pain and grief. Those wrongly accused can, of course, sue the State but the stigma rarely goes away. It affects their chances of education, employment, overseas travel and also reintegrating into society. It also leaves deep psychological scars from which many never recover. There are established protocols for investigation that must be followed, but these can only be implemented if there are serious police reforms and no political interference. Now we will see a repeat of the usual blame game. But that is an insult to those who lost their lives that fateful day and those against whom the charges could not hold.