Saturday, November 26, 2011

Following due process with Kasab is in your own interest!

Ajmal Kasab
Image from Wikipedia 
"Why is he still alive?"
"16 crores? Give me 16 crores instead of him"
"We have no security but he has the best security in the country"
"It has been THREE YEARS!! Justice delayed is justice denied"
Now that the third anniversary of the horrendous 26/11 attacks has dawned, many of today's conversations, be it at the watercooler, while hanging in a Bombay local, while drinking chai or in a classroom, will have the sentences mentioned above. Almost everyone shall vent out their frustration about their tax rupees (those which they absolutely had to pay after exhausting 9999 methods of avoiding tax) being used keep Kasab alive and secure, three years after he was caught. In such cases, the legal community should be pointing out how following the due process of law is the righteous way of doing justice (as opposed to Guantanamo Bay). Sadly however, many within the legal community shall be baying for Kasab's blood too. Here is my little attempt to counter the situation in order to show why following the due process of law with Kasab is in the common man's own interest.

The possibility of police complacency
If the principle is laid down that in terrorism cases such as Kasab's, the trial shall be a summary trial with relaxed rules of evidence and no appeal, the police might get complacent. Here is how - If a terrorist attack takes place again, the police will be under enormous pressure to make some arrests. In order to show that they weren't caught with their pants down, the police maybe very tempted to randomly arrest some poor guy and claim they caught a terrorist. With a summary trial, this shall become really easy and therefore tempting. Even when there is scope for thorough investigation the police maybe tempted to just make someone a scape goat if they know that they wont have to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

All other Indians apart from those who were the victims have only seen Kasab on TV. They are convinced of his guilt merely because all news stories about him tally. If there were to be no thorough trials for the terrorism accused, he police would just need a good PR team to tell the country that any guy they catch is the real terrorist and their job would be done.  WHAT IF THAT SCAPEGOAT IS YOU?

Present : You say - Who cares if Kasab gets a fair trial? He is guilty as hell!
Future : Will you say - I dont want a trial even though I have been falsely implicated?

Even today there are alleged cases of shoddy investigation in terror related cases (and many more in naxal related cases). I am not saying that all police will definitely turn complacent but why create the possibility?

The progress isn't really slow
The special court proceedings are over and Kasab has been sentenced to death. His appeal has been turned down by the Bombay High Court. The matter is now before the SC. The pace with which the case is moving is not actually slow by Indian standards. Indira Gandhi's assassin was also hung only after about five years.

The Money
Well, 16 crores might be a big deal for you and me but it is not for the Union of India or the State of Maharashtra. It is a miniscule part of the budget. The government spends far far more on just paying interests on its loans to foreign banks which is also a head of spending where your tax ruppees go without benefiting you. The money is not being handed over to him. It is being spent on housing him, feeding him and for his security. You may say even one rupee is too many, but then it is the cost of doing justice. Just be secure in the knowledge that if you or I are ever undertrials, the state will still feed us and try to keep us secure as far as possible too.

In conclusion, the due process is being followed and justice shall be done. There is no point in hollering for Kasab to be hung instantly. When due process is followed with him, it prevents complacency and is thus in our own interest. Furthermore, we can show the world that even terrorism can be dealt with in a humane and a fair manner without resorting to unconstitutional prisons and murders.

This post was first posted on Legally India website