D Sivanandhan, the former police commissioner who investigated the 1993 serial blasts, speaks about what ails the system and why justice always seems so far away…
Why are we unable to get Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon or more recently, Hafiz Saeed, to stand trial in India?
Most of our wanted accused in terror related cases, like Dawood, are in the confines of unfriendly countries with whom we have no treaties. Diplomatic channels and minister and secretary level talks have been going on for years without any tangible results.
Many of our cases drag on for years at the trial stage or even at the appeal stage. What are the main causes for delays and acquittals?
There are millions of cases pending trial. The reasons for this are too few courts, too few prosecutors, too many vacancies in the existing posts, too few investigators burdened with many cases, investigating officers unable to attend courts due to continuous law and order duties, inefficient prosecutors and no immediate support from forensic experts.
What can be done to avoid this?
There are many solutions. Courts working longer hours, fewer adjournments, lawyers forced to continue arguments without postponement, increasing the number of investigating officers and forensic labs, etc, are a few ideas. The government could earmark a special budgetary provision to meet expenses incurred during investigation.
How can Mumbai police instill confidence in victims and citizens who feel let down by the lack of convictions/arrests?
We should make prosecutors responsible for convictions and immediate trials like in MCOCA cases. IOs should be trained well for better scientific investigations. The police and prosecutors have to work with better understanding and not at cross-purposes. Our conviction rate fell from 39% to 8% the day the prosecution was separated from the police.