Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where our courts have failed us

First off I’d like to say that I don’t have any theories on who killed Arushi Talwar. It is a sad case and the last thing I would want to do is prejudge anything on the basis of idle chatter gleaned from the media. Isn’t that a simple enough sentiment?

I’ve been watching and have been baffled by the case as much as anyone else. The cause for my bafflement though is not on account of this unsolvable case but because of the sheer stupidity associated with it and around it. And I’m not even talking about the incompetence displayed by the investigating agencies. Everyone around me has already formed very definite views on who is guilty and what must happen next. Media reports based on selective leaks, in some cases triumphant and self-laudatory press conferences, from police, CBI, lawyers seem to be the basis of every ‘informed and therefore authoritative’ opinion.

Everyday a new set of leaks and a new set of speculation are on offer. These are selectively twisted and released by the media to suit their current favorite theory. There is no care for the legal procedure or any concessions for simple things like decency. Worst of all is the slanderous gossip doing the rounds besmirching the poor victim’s character. Senior police officers, representative of the media and talking heads on television have speculated on just about everything. All taking their turn at playing armchair Sherlock Holms.

In all of this, and this is not the only instance; it seems to happen in every so-called high profile case, the court is a mute witness. Dubious evidence instead of being presented in court is discussed on television. Speculation is beamed as fact across the country ruining lives of not just the accused but anyone even remotely connected with the investigation. Media circuses driven by TRP gods have been allowed to play out without a word from the one authority that actually has the power to determine what really happened. The court has the power to shut this orgy down. It definitely has the power of pull up that idiot police officer, and more of his tribe, whose conduct of a press conference can only be described as shameful. Yet these learned people who run these courts have chosen not to do so. One wonders why they don’t take charge? A few contempt of court indictments will go a long way in restoring some order. I think the time has come for our courts to use their powers a little more forcefully otherwise we risk becoming a circus nation. And our courts run the risk of becoming irrelevant.

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