Amid Mayawati government's flip-flop on action against BSP MLA Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi in the Banda rape case, the Supreme Court has taken a dig at political interference in criminal cases, saying it adversely affects investigation.
“On many occasions impartial investigation suffers because of political interference," a bench of justice Aftab Alam and RM Lodha said reversing an Allahabad high court order acquitting a man accused of raping a minor in 1989 in Hardoi.
Accused Chhotay Lal and two others had kidnapped a 17-year-old girl on September 19, 1989 and raped her repeatedly for almost a month. One of the three accused died during the trial while the trial court acquitted the second one. The trial court had convicted and sentenced Lal to seven-year sentence.
But the HC had acquitted him on the ground of late registration of FIR, uncertainty about the victim's age, which it said "could even be 19 years" and absence of any internal or external injury on her body. Rapping the HC for its casual approach, the SC said the ruling was "based on conjectures and surmises" and the accused was acquitted on "flimsy grounds" without application of mind.
Refusing to take a lenient view, the bench said: "Rape is a heinous crime and once it is established against a person charged of the offence, justice must be done to the victim of crime by awarding suitable punishment to the crime doer."
Writing the judgment for the bench, justice Lodha said: "We must remember that a strong and efficient criminal justice system is a guarantee to the rule of law and vibrant civil society."
Noting the criminal justice system was not working properly in the country, the SC suggested a slew of measures to improve the criminal justice system, fast tracking of trials, fixing time frame for cases and amending procedural and other laws.