PERSPECTIVE
INNOCENTS SHOULD NOT BE HARASSED
The Priyanka Reddy rape and murder: A Note of Caution
- Markandey Katju & Dhruti Kapadia
The Priyanka Reddy rape and murder: A Note of Caution



The rape and murder of veterinary doctor Dr Priyanka Reddy, and the subsequent burning of her body in Hyderabad, has rightly enraged many people in India, and has indicated the dangers which working women in India face, particularly if they have to travel at night from their workplace to home.

While I agree that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes must be given harsh punishment, I would also like to strike a note of caution. 

Correct identification of the real culprits is as important as avoidance of false implication and conviction of innocents, and it is here that the problem arises.

Criminal investigation is a science. If we read the stories of Sherlock Holmes we see how Holmes investigates a crime scientifically, by going to the spot, examining fingerprints, footprints, ashes, bloodstains, etc which enables him to solve the crime.
 
On Discovery channel we see how the American police solves a crime, by collecting fingerprints, fibers, semen, firearms evidence etc, and by sending the same to a laboratory for DNA testing etc.

In India, on the other hand, most policemen are neither trained in scientific investigation, nor given the equipment for the same, and so they are unable to find the real culprits. Yet there is pressure on them to solve the crime, failing which they may be suspended.
 
So what do they do? Very often they implicate persons on mere suspicion, and then fabricate evidence against them. The result is that innocents are also sometimes convicted.

It is well known that in India very often the police spread their net wide, by implicating innocents too along with the guilty. For instance, if in a crime three persons are the real culprits, the police often implicates not only these three but also three more who may be innocent.
 
It is for the Court to sift the grain from the chaff, which is not always easy. But unless that is done, an innocent person may be convicted along with the guilty.

So while I too demand harsh punishment for the real culprits, I also hope that no innocent person is falsely implicated and convicted. Unfortunately I fear that may happen in view of the huge hue and cry which has been raised in the country to send the matter to a fast track court and punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
 
When emotions rise high, often injustice follows, as illustrated by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar, in which the hysterical Roman mob demands hanging of Cinna the poet despite his pleading that he is not Cinna the conspirator.
 

 

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. Dhruti Kapadia is Solicitor, Bombay High Court and Advocate on Record.


  

 

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