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Today in India, arrests made without reasons, judges rarely question custody need: Ex-CJI Lalit

Mumbai, November 22 (KMS): Amid the ongoing arrest spree unleashed by the Hindutva regime on frivolous charges, former Chief Justice of India U U Lalit has admitted that civil disputes are now being given criminal colour and arrests are made without a reason which burden the judicial system in the country.

The ex-CJI was speaking at the Justice K T Desai Memorial Lecture on “Making Criminal Justice Effective” in the Bombay High Court.

The plight of the Kashmiri detainees can be gauged from the findings by the former Indian chief justice as dozens of people are picked up and put behind bars in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir on daily basis.

Also speaking at the event, Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said bail is the rule and jail is an exception and gave the example of the recent Indian Supreme Court order allowing jailed activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, to be placed under house arrest.

Noting the pliability of the present-day judiciary in India, the HC chief justice said, “A motivated, biased or an indifferent judicial system would result in the denial of justice and unjustified arrest of innocent persons”.

He also spoke about several judgments passed by the apex court laying down guidelines for the police while making arrests in a case.

“Even in the Gautam Navlakha case resort to house arrest in appropriate cases have been emphasized,” CJ Datta said, adding the “rule of anarchy would replace the rule of law if an efficient and effective criminal justice system were to be absent”.

Ex-CJI Lalit without naming the Modi government acknowledged that in recent times arrests are made as a matter of course, frequently and without any reason.

“Arrests are made without even seeing if it is required or actually needed. Civil disputes are projected as criminal matters and this puts a burden on the judicial system,” he said.

The ex-CJI further said 80 per cent of inmates in Indian prisons are under-trials while the remaining are convicts.

“The conviction rate is 27 per cent which means 56 out of 100 under-trials are going to get acquitted for one reason or another but yet they continue to languish in jails,” he said.

Further exposing the Indian judicial and investigation system he said, “A cat is made to chase and catch a rat. But if after ten years of rat chase, the cat finds out that the rat was actually a rabbit then it is not good for society. It does not serve the society any good,” the former CJI said.

He said magistrates mechanically “heat” the remand matters and rarely question the investigating team on why custody is required and what the progress is in the investigation.

The former CJI noted certain areas in the criminal system beginning from the investigation to the final conviction need a change in “attitude or course correction”.

“In present times with an increase in white collar crimes and cases with some scientific facets to it, I do not think that our police investigation system has the expertise or training to probe such matters,” he added.

It is worth mentioning here that thousands of people from Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir are languishing in Indian jails without any reason and trial as well.

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