Blame the Law’s Delay
We have had earlier occasions too of drawing attention to the kind of lawlessness that often erupts largely because of the law’s delay in India. Everyone appreciates the fact that a murderer cannot be hanged the very day after he committed his crime. Since nobody can be denied the benefit of legal processes in the handling of crime, a certain amount of time must be allowed to deal with the legal processes involved in the trial and sentencing of the criminal. And so we concede that a certain minimum time is required for charges to be filed and for the case to be heard. But why should the hearing of even a criminal case be dragged on for over ten years for a verdict to be given. The cruel lynching of Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath last Friday in Karbi Anglong serves to underscore the harm that the law’s delay does to the very attitude to crime and law-breaking. The typical expectation now is that the characteristic law’s delay ensures that due punishment even for heinous crimes may get delayed by as much as a decade or two. So the criminal who might have been restrained from committing any heinous crime for fear of the consequences, is now emboldened by the many years that his punishment could get delayed, and is accordingly willing to take risks that he might have avoided had the due process of law delivered verdicts much earlier. The entire attitude to crime can be expected to undergo a sea change once the pace of delivering justice can be expedited. Once our lawyers and judges agree to speed up trials and eliminate delays, we shall have speedier justice for crimes committed. And once this begins to happen, much of the compromises being made with the justice delivery system will cease to be made.