The Article is written by Vaibhav Singh ( student from USLLS, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)
On 16th August, 2021, a 24-year-old woman set herself on fire outside the Supreme Court of India. The woman was allegedly raped by Bahujan Samaj Party MP Atul Rai in 2019. Prior to setting herself up on fire, the woman said she had lodged a rape case against BSP MP Atul Rai, and alleged that senior IPS officers and a judge from Uttar Pradesh were “part of a nexus”.
Meaning of Miscarriage
Miscarriage signifies failure whereas justice can be interpreted as justness or righteousness. Therefore, miscarriage of justice symbolizes the failure of the pronouncement of what is right and just. Miscarriage of justice occurs when an innocent is not given justice, thereby providing ways for the actual guilty party to escape from the scene. The criminal justice system is supposed to be designed as such that it includes both, punishing the one who is declared guilty and acquittal of the innocent. If there occurs an absence of any one of these elements, miscarriage of justice will definitely take place. It is true that the criminal justice system can neither guarantee punishment for the guilty nor acquittal of the innocent but it can definitely try to do the same.
If justice is not delivered or is failed to be delivered, then the society can fall apart easily. It is an essential part of an individual’s life. The whole judiciary and the system of courts have been set up so that this essential element is fulfilled by free and fair means. The chain of courts and the judiciary has been set up so that justice is provided by following proper regulation in a free and fair manner.
“The judiciary and the courts are an instrument that helps safeguard justice.”
This aspect helps build up trust amongst the government and the citizens and provides the citizens with a feeling that they will be protected from all the unlawful acts. If the court somehow fails to provide justice, then it would transfer and promote a wrong image of the judicial system. It would show the incapability of the judicial system and would break the trust between the citizens and the judiciary. If justice is miscarried it can certainly create turmoil amongst the citizens and ruin the entire democracy.
There is no doubt to the fact that delivering justice is one of the most difficult tasks as the duty of the court does not end just after dictating a verdict; it has to check that the verdict as delivered is true in its sense of application too. It is important that justice is delivered in its true sense and to do so one has to delve deeper into every factual situation of the case and has to ensure that the party involved experiences a sense of justness and perhaps that there is no miscarriage of justice. Miscarriage of justice might affect people at a larger stage and create doubts in their minds regarding the judicial system and its capabilities.
The High Court of Delhi in the case of Babloo Chauhan @ Dabloo v. State Govt. of NCT of Delhi, focused on the rehabilitation of the victims of wrongful prosecution in order to help them lead a normal life after their acquittal. The court stressed the formation of a legislative framework that will regulate a committee to look after these innocent victims. Wrongful prosecution and humiliation of the innocent party is the consequence of miscarriage of justice. Miscarriage of justice cannot only happen through the courts but can also happen through the investigating officials at ground level. Innocents suffer from the same also.
Taking a note of these things the Supreme court in a landmark judgment dated 2016 dealt with an old case named Rudul Sah v. the State of Bihar and declared that the innocents who have suffered from poor investigation and had to face trials of wrongful prosecution will be provided with compensation by the concerned State. Causes of a miscarriage of justice can be by a hasty decision on the part of the court in certain cases to clear out pending judgments that are to be issued, plea bargaining which involves providing of incentive to the judge hearing the case to declare the innocent as guilty, the bias in the investigation procedure by the officials, evidence that is gathered by the police associated with the offense are often subjected to destruction, judicial misconduct on the judges’ part. Thus miscarriage of justice is an unwanted activity carried out by the judiciary or the investigating officials that contravenes human rights to a large extent.
There are several other instances that result in a miscarriage of justice even before the situation reaches the courts, majority of which are rape cases. Several times it has happened that the sufferer of the rape cases is forced to withdraw their petition from the court on grounds of pressure exerted from the society, families involved, and political reasons. This indicates the grave miscarriage of justice taking place by the courts because of the lack of support it is supposed to offer to the sufferers and preventing withdrawal of the claims that are taking place.
Rape cases are a sensitive societal issue and in such cases, it is not difficult to file charges for there are legislatures pertaining to only rape. The police officials have claimed that even after a successful investigation of the case, it takes a back due to a lack of the court’s participation in such cases. Followed by this the delay in the decision-making power of the courts have been well known by the nation through the case of Mukesh & Anr v. State for NCT of Delhi & Ors, commonly known as the Nirbhaya case. After nine years of the case, the victim received justice when the court ordered a death penalty for the rapists. But not all rape cases have the resource and support like that of Nirbhaya’s. This reflects the loopholes associated with the court system which gives rise to a miscarriage of justice. The instances which have been mentioned above have taken place in the last five to ten years. The fact that they have been cited is because they reflect as to where the country and the world as a whole is leading to. At times when the courts have come to rescue the sufferer from being denied justice, they have also remained silent or absent when justice has been denied.
Miscarriage of justice is not a welcoming step because it is in contravention with human rights. Miscarriage of justice raises a lot of interrogations for the judiciary as well. The aim of the judiciary is to remedy injustice. Miscarriage of justice erases this aim of the judiciary because it leads to injustice on the part of the parties who are involved in the case. The judiciary is aware of its duties and responsibilities which it owes to the citizens of the nation. Therefore, the necessity to guide the courts does not arise. Already the judiciary on its part has taken a lot of remedies in order to suffice the miscarriage of justice. More of such remedial methods are to be adopted by the judiciary in order to successfully carry out the application of law and safeguard the innocent by providing justice. One must not forget that the courts have been a guiding light for several cases provisioning justice to both the parties involved in the case. At times default does occur but for that the trust that courts have built through ages with the public in general. The remedies and instruments provisioning safeguards that have been adopted by the courts will in turn also help in keeping intact the independence of the judiciary and thereby function efficiently.