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Bumbling sleuths

Editorial |

Every person who has donned a police uniform would have cause for shame after the verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the sensational “Aarushi Murder Case” on Thursday.

It is difficult to determine which is the more ugly side of the criminal justice system now back under the spotlight: the killers of a teenage girl and a domestic aide in her household going unpunished ~ or her parents suffering the ignominy of being convicted, incarcerated, and subjected to public scorn before their appeal against a verdict by a Special CBI court was upheld.

After nine traumatic years “the system” has offered no insight into the key question of “who killed Aarushi”, so there is no genuine sense of “closure”. Regardless of whether the CBI takes the matter to the apex court, and what would be the outcome of that exercise, public faith and confidence in the administration of criminal justice stands corroded.

The people will be left with no other conclusion than the state being unable to do its basic duty of protecting the lives and property of citizens. Could there be a more castigating indictment of the quality of governance down the years, with no “politics” entering that murky equation? The investigations were messed up from the very outset, the Noida police unable to even preserve the crime scene.

There was an element of escapism to the state government handing over the investigation to the CBI, but even that supposedly premier agency came up with conflicting versions, unable to substantiate either.

The role of a court rejecting a “closure” report and ordering a re-investigation, as well as what that second probe came up with also merit condemnation. No less despicable was the role of the sensation-thriving media, the electronic media in particular, and there is reason to suspect that the latter stages of the probe were conducted under media pressure. It was sickening on Thursday afternoon to hear “channels and anchors” singing vastly different tunes to what they were chanting a few years back.

The case must be cited in all training manuals ~ police, judicial, and media ~ as an example of how a criminal affair is never to be processed. To take the matter a couple of steps farther ~ the urgent need for police reform/upgrade has seldom been more pressing.

The much-trumpeted investigating organisations are so focused on cases with a political flavour (swinging whichever way the political wind blows) that core responsibilities get short shrift, and crime flourishes.

When the CBI cannot plug gaps, or sustain a chain of evidence, in as high-profile a case as the Aarushi murder the “irresistible conclusion” is that the agency is letting down the citizen but while delighting the netas of the day. Is that not a national disgrace?