Criminal law

The pressure path of narrative changes that cases can take, judges and investigative agencies are not immune to media pressure: Justice Anoop J. Bhambani


Delhi High Court Judge Anoop Jeram Bhampani said on Saturday that investigative agencies and judges are not immune from media pressure, and that the pressure of the narrative built around the case is deflecting and changing the course on which cases can proceed.

The judge said, “We must always, as lawyers and as people involved in the criminal justice system, all of us be subconsciously affected by what we hear and what we read, and that influences our thinking.”

Justice Bhambani was talking about “Fair Trial – Fairy Tale, Novel, or More?” In the first lecture organized by the Center for Letters of Criminal and Constitutional Jurisprudence.

“Just pick up the newspaper or scroll through your social media feed to see how today’s media, and sometimes even busy individual agencies, jump into the fray and have a field day the moment they find out that someone has been involved in an attack. Justice Bahampani said:” The better off you are in society, or imagine yourself being the better off in society, the worse it is for you.”

Judge Bahambhani’s speech focused on three aspects: the right to be presumed innocent and the influence of the media on the trials. The right to legal aid, its quality and effectiveness, and the right to disclose evidence and suppression of innocuous evidence.

The judge said the right to be presumed innocent “has a particular problem” because criminal provisions are “extremely vulnerable to abuse”, especially since simply accusing someone of a crime can create a cloud over their personality.

“Although as theorists and professionals we know the difference between an accused and a convicted person. We have also learned that a mere allegation is not evidence of itself, but in practice the narrative is very different.”

Justice Bahambani added that as thoughtful members of society, it is also necessary to control the prevailing narrative in society according to which society almost immediately shuns a person accused of a crime.

“It could be said that this exclusion from society in and of itself spoils the atmosphere required for a fair trial. This is exacerbated by the unavoidable fact that criminal trials, especially in our jurisdictions, take an extremely long time to obtain acquittals.” If a person has been stigmatized for many years.

He added: “The simple fact of accusing someone of a crime today will inevitably cause his closest friends, even family members, to turn away from him. If there is any evidence that can be given through these people, if there is any statement that will be recorded from a family member or a friend, it is likely that people will distance themselves because they do not want to be tied down as it was…. The society facing this problem is a real problem, but the consequences are borne by the accused.”

Justice Bahambani also said that apart from the exercise of media restraint, there is power available to the High Courts and the Supreme Court to issue ‘orders of reprieve’, in an appropriate case where there is a real and clear risk of interfering with the fair course of justice. trial, within the exercise of their jurisdiction.

Speaking about the right to aid and legal assistance to the accused, the judge said that this is a crucial component of the right to a fair trial that is required at the investigation stage and during the trial.

“Only two out of 10 litigants really help their case, if I may say so. This has been my experience because mostly they argue against themselves. They argue as if they are not in a court, but standing before Jahangir or someone like that,” said the judge. likeness.”

Justice Bahambani also said that the provision of legal aid was now “a choice of nullification exercised by the accused” and that, at the same time, we had to realize that legal aid for the poor should not be “bad legal aid”. “

“Is everything great in our legal system? We, at least on behalf of the state of Delhi, have a very strong system but is it all right? No unfortunately. There are certain aspects which I will point out at present which need closer scrutiny and which need work. Ahead So, let me say this as a judge, I no longer believe that it is the accused who needs legal aid. “It is the judicial system that needs legal aid,” said the judge.

Justice Bahambani also said that it is the judges who find themselves completely at a loss if there is no effective representation.

“But I can’t really stress enough the difference it makes if you get good help from a lawyer versus being left on your own to find out and decide the case as you like,” he said.

Regarding the right to disclose evidence, Judge Bahambani highlighted how nowadays investigative officers raid offices and confiscate electronic devices in commercial and financial crimes.

“…especially now with so many investigations of very complex commercial and financial crimes going on, international organizations raiding their offices. They collect electronic records in bulk, they take away servers, they take away computer systems. They don’t leave copies and they don’t make copies. Among those The 10,000 emails they’re going to come out with, they’re going to produce five emails and they’re saying look, this shows the guy is guilty.’Now there has to be something to be done about it,’ the judge said.

Justice Bahambani also pointed out some areas of concern in the legal aid system such as lack of opportunity to choose a lawyer himself, lack of training and commitment on the part of legal aid lawyers, lack of rigorous professional involvement, adequate remuneration of lawyers and lack of confidence in the quality of services provided.

Speaking about the importance of a fair trial, Justice Behambani concluded by saying that there is a moral core to the prosecution job that must be preserved and protected, and prosecutors must be imbued with this sense.


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