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Of Lies, Liars, and the Indian Police (dis-)Service

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A Busy Collections Agent

It is to the discredit of every honorable Criminal Justice professional in India that, thanks to the uniform desecrating vermin on the Force, a confession made to a police officer is not admissible in court!

This precept, at least on paper, is accurately reflective of widespread public opinion synthesized thru’ one’s general interaction with the law, formal attestations from “experts” and research scholars, and with people who administer and enforce laws; that they are corrupt liars and cannot be trusted! Unfortunately, this view, for the most part factual, is unfairly demoralizing to the devoted few who’ve striven to maintain an unsullied respect and pride in their Uniform (often despite overwhelming political and peer pressure, and sly, coercive sanctions).

Okay, so confession made to a cop is not admissible in court.  Now check out this play on words.  BUT:

"if a statement is given by an accused to a police officer while in custody and that statement reveals the discovery of any material fact and in consequence of that statement if that material fact is discovered, that statement is admissible to the extent of such discovery. It can be used in evidence of the thing recovered as a result of the confession made to a police officer by the accused.” [ Section 27 of the Evidence Act.] Thus if a weapon used in a number of cases is recovered by the police (or, more commonly, planted by them) as a result of a 'confession' made by an accused person, the recovery is a relevant piece of evidence." [ State of U. P. V Deoman Upadhyaya AIR 1960 SC 1125.]

In other words, evidence recovered pursuant to suppressed, rejected testimony that, by law, has no legal worth in the first place, is acceptable!

The Indian Constitution mandates no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself and no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment or treatment … sounds good so far? (That’s ‘cos it’s meant to!). So how do the Indian Police succeed in surmounting overwhelming odds and statutory restrictions, circumvent the Accused’s constitutional right against self incrimination using no coercion or forceful methods … and bring forth cognizable, damning evidence in a surprisingly short period of time? Exemplary police work? Exceptional forensic/medico-legal investigative skills? Perhaps in exceptional cases, only IF you could get a Desi Street Cop to correctly pronounce that phrase (then forthrightly explain it)! “Investigations”, case management, and related formalities are customarily accomplished by traversing a standard short cut route to a predetermined end result.

It's a disgraceful fact of life that most crimes are accepted for prosecution NOT on the legal merits of the evidence obtained but on the strength of the evidence FABRICATED and creative procedures employed to stroke up a judicially acceptable spit shine. A boilerplate “Voluntary Confessional Statement” is drawn up from an appropriate Case Template at the Police Station. The accused person doesn’t even need to be present. He's usually already in the Slammer ("Judicial Custody”). Two “Impartial” Citizen-Witnesses (on the Police’s regular “under-the-table” employ) formally attest that the Statement was made voluntarily by the Accused who led the Police to affect recovery of the incriminating (planted) evidence, thereby making the Confession legally admissible in court: A convenient “Open and Shut Case”! “Incredulous”, you say? Hell, No. This is typical! (Check out The Rajesh Talwar Trajic Comedy.)

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Excuse me for a moment while I puke!

Judges are not dumb by any stretch of good fortune! They know what went on behind the scenes; it is almost obvious to all! Not in as many words, the Honorable Bench seems to convey, “Don’t insult my intelligence with a prosaic, run-of-the-mill lie that even a fourth-grader would have a hard time believing! Make it a GOOD LIE, even a half-way credible lie … something with MEAT … something to sink my teeth into or fall back upon when I make a slanted decision on shaky grounds”.

And, perchance, IF some young, impressionable, starry-eyed lawyer backs the cop and his hired witnesses into a corner exposing them as liars, there is hardly even a whimper for corrupting a judicial proceeding. Whereas all overseas jurisdictions see prosecutorial perjury as tantamount to publicly dick-sapping the judge, our learned magistrates seem to have developed shameless toleration, nay, IMMUNITY to such insults flung routinely toward the bench. Most have likely forgotten what Justice stands for and why the term “Your HONOR” is (was?) exclusively reserved for judges. It is thanks to the worthy few in black robes that the rest scavenge for privileges and flaunt in their shade.

Since the provisions of the Evidence Act, for good reasons, clearly maligns the police, viz. THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED UPON to truthfully present testimony, where’s the logic then in attributing legal worth to evidence recovered pursuant to an unconstitutional, self-incriminating, “Voluntary Confessional Statement” unilaterally authored by the Police which, per the Evidence Code, has a prima facie worth commensurate with fiction anyway, as it was more than likely concocted, or Ex-Pârté, or made under duress, or in a language totally alien to the Accused illiterate. Or “all the above”! What became of the fundamental Maxim of Justice, “The fruit of a poisonous tree is poisonous”? Or, has it become by Judicial decree, “partially poisonous” (the logical equivalent of being “partially pregnant”).

There are those who argue that nowhere else is the adage “Justice is Blind” more true than in our own beloved Bharat. Justice may appear selectively blind when discriminating and perspicacious, but it certainly is not deaf! It has been known to lend a practiced ear to the “Ka-Chung” in your pockets and the melodious shuffling of currency in your bank account. See Transparency International Policy Position # 4 /2007 and Link:

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“Judicial salaries that are too low to attract qualified legal personnel or retain them, and that do not enable judges and court staff to support their families in a secure environment, ….. judges are more susceptible to corruption. They may accept bribes when offered and, when left unchecked, may be more likely to extort bribes from vulnerable court users to supplement their incomes”.

To crooked judges lapping up that opinion (proffered by a responsible source!) as if it were spilt milk (of Magnesia?), it could serve as reliable justification to continue “supplementing their income” through bribes (since, what the heck! It’s common knowledge, anyway)!

In our country where avarice and greed take precedence even over the Deity, it is really immaterial that the income of the overwhelming masses who approach the bench seeking justice, is far below the official salary (excluding benefits) of the ominous Tribunal telepathically (tele-pathetically?) burning a hole in your pockets. Couple that with the assessment of a respected Chief Justice on the likelihood of 20 per cent of the Indian judiciary being corrupt thanks to an absence of an effective disciplinary mechanism, we reach a disheartening conclusion. [See Link.]

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