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What acquittals reveal about our justice system

Experts point at old method of probe and lack of forensic and technological evidence; add that probing bodies tend to overlook SC’s observation on acquittals

The acquittal of the accused in Shivaji Park murder case and the subsequent criminal appeal filed against the same before the Bombay High Court by the son of the deceased once again raised concerns about the criminal justice system and the method of probe. It also highlights that law enforcing agencies tend to overlook the Supreme Court’s observation that every acquittal either means that a guilty person is walking free due to lapse on the part of the investigating agency or that an innocent person was wrongly prosecuted and made to suffer.
mid-day had in a report on June 14 highlighted a carpenter, the main accused in 2015 Shivaji Park murder of Beleza Cardozo, was acquitted last year as the trial court observed that the cops had failed to produce any concrete forensic evidence. Thereafter, Cordozo’s son moved the Bombay High Court recently to check the availability of forensic materials as the sessions court, during trial, found the police had not highlighted forensic findings on record, making way for acquittal.

“In today’s modernised world, the police in many cases are still using the age-old conventional methods of investigations rather than using scientific and foolproof forensic/technological methods while processing crime scenes. Many times, vital leads are misplaced or unused due to lack of coordination between forensic experts and the investigating team. But this is crucial for proving the case during trial,” said Amol Deshmukh, nodal officer (projects), Western Region, Ministry of Home.

“Biological evidence, like blood, is sometimes the only way to prove the link between the victim, crime scene and perpetrator. Priority practices of analysis of biological evidence is essential to ensure it is not lost, destroyed, or contaminated and to guarantee reliable results,” added Amol.

Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal said, “The police and prosecution need to shed the old ways and the personnel need to be given regular training in new technology which can be useful.”

SC on acquittals

“The SC observed that every acquittal must mean that a guilty person is walking free due to blameworthy lapse on the part of the investigating agency and if the accused is not guilty, then an innocent person was wrongly prosecuted and made to suffer deprivation of his liberty. The court said in both situations, the probing agency is responsible and action needs to be taken against them. But, these directives have not been taken seriously. I have not come across a single example where action is taken against a cop for lapse leading to acquittal,” said Panchal.

Advocate Swapnil Ambure, for the petitioner, said, “A large percentage of murder trials, ultimately, end in acquittal. The bottom line is, there is a way to ensure justice, and we are neglecting it. Forensic evidence is very valuable. We have to have it and if not, there must be accountability.”

Year when the Shivaji Park murder took place

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