‘Let a hundred guilty be acquitted, but one innocent should not be convicted’ is a popular adage and the base of legal systems. On the other hand, while the convicted are being freed, the innocent are being punished in some cases. A recent example for this is the Madras High Court acquitting a man sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment by a lower court in a case of sexual assault in Tiruvannamalai district in 2007, terming the police probe as ‘faulty’. The court also directed the DGP to peruse the judgement given by the trial court and the High Court and arrange for training classes to all investigating officers to sensitise them about the manner a probe should be conducted in sexual offence cases.
Justice M V Muralidharan, while allowing the appeal by the accused, V Venkatesan, said, “It is seen from records that the investigation conducted by an inspector of police is the root cause for the collapse of the case of the prosecution.” In the case on hand, the judge said the investigating officer, without taking due care, conducted the probe in a casual manner and was not aware of the manner to investigate the offence. “The faulty investigation and the conduct of the victim soon after the occurrence of the incident have not inspired confidence in the case of the prosecution,” he said.
Though the rules are clear for each and every offence, it is sad that some investigating officials do not follow them. Just for the sake of closing the case and for ‘other reasons’, they find someone as scapegoat and frame charges against him / her. This should not be allowed to continue and it is time for the top brass of the police department to come up with some strict regulations and sensitisation measures to stop this at once. For, justice delayed is justice denied.