Travesty of justice in Salman case

Travesty of justice in Salman case

The acquittal by the Rajasthan High Court of Bollywood actor Salman Khan in two cases of alleged poaching of a blackbuck and a chinkara in Jodhpur does not send out inspiring signals about the dispensation of justice in the country.

The course of the Jodhpur cases from 1998 has followed the same script as the 2002 hit-and-run case in Mumbai which too dragged on for years and led to the acquittal of the actor by the Bombay High Court. In the hit-and-run case, one person was crushed to death and four others were injured as the car allegedly being driven by the actor ran over them. Salman Khan had been held guilty by lower courts in the Jodhpur and the Mumbai cases but the actor managed to escape the course of justice in much the same manner in both. For many, the acquittals would confirm the impression that the rich and powerful can get away with violations of the law by influencing the system, exploiting loopholes or using the powers at their command.

The investigation and the prosecution have questions to answer in both cases. In the poaching case, the high court said the pellets found in the animals did not match Khan’s rifle. Was this major piece of evidence not examined by the lower court which convicted Khan? This needs to be clarified. There was mismatch of blood samples and mishandling of forensic evidence in both cases. Witnesses turned hostile in both. If the actor’s driver came forward after many years to claim that he was at the wheel when the crime took place in Mumbai, the Jodhpur driver has disappeared. He had appeared in the court some time during the long course of the case but the defence made an issue of not having been able to question him.

The inference is that those who can field a good defence team can exploit weaknesses and loopholes, deliberate or otherwise, in the case and defeat the ends of justice. Investigating agencies and the prosecution often turn out to be inefficient or indifferent. Though the accused persons should get the benefit of doubt, some verdicts give the impression that they get too much of benefit.Both cases have gone on for many years. Delays which are caused sometimes by the slow pace of the system and at other times by obstructive tactics, usually work to the advantage of the accused. Since there is a strong sense of miscarriage of justice in both cases, the verdict of the Supreme Court, on appeal, will be keenly looked forward to. The question remains: Who killed the Mumbai man and the Jodhpur animals?

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