NEW DELHI: The 19-year-long trial in Ruchika Girhotra molestation case that ended with a light six-month punishment for former Haryana DGP S P S Rathore was a classic example of the powerful and influential exploiting systemic legal loopholes to their advantage, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said.
Reflecting on the justice delivery system with his long years in judiciary at the fag end of his tenure as CJI, Justice Balakrishnan on Sunday said that in India, the rich, powerful and influential resorted to every method available to them in the system to delay the trial.
The Ruchika case involving a top police official was not any different. “What they do is challenge the summons issued to them, appeal against framing of charges and also every interim order of the trial court upto the Supreme Court. If they get an interim stay from either the HC or the SC, the trial gets stayed and delayed,” he said.
Speaking to TOI on the eve of completing three years as CJI, Justice Balakrishnan said long delays achieved through such tactics adopted by the rich and influential had a bad effect on the trial.
“The witnesses either forget details of the incident or turn hostile, being tired of getting summoned to the court for years. All these go as advantage to the accused,” he said. But he was quick to clarify that Ruchika case was an isolated incident and did not reflect the true picture of judiciary.
“It is an isolated case that too involving a top police officer. The 19-year-long trial is not a common phenomenon. There are allegations against the police officer of having tampered the course of justice. So, this is not a regular case that would display the standard of justice delivery system,” the CJI said.
What should be done to see that no girl like Ruchika or her family suffer for such long in search of justice? The CJI said the prosecution should be very vigilant in such cases, especially where the rich and influential were involved as accused.
“The prosecution does not care if there is delay. They also have so many cases that they fail to keep track. They do not realise that delay only benefits the accused. The prosecution should be a little alert to such attempts to delay the trial,” he said.
QnA: Even if Rathore is penalised, will it mean justice in all such future cases?
QnA: Is Indian judiciary now immune to political pressure?