What’s the point?

By Sonia Khudanpur

The judgement given by the court is hardy taken seriously these days, especially when the case concerns a terrorist like Ajmal Amir Kasab. Kasab’s sentence by the High court may be a step forward in dealing with terrorism in the country, but as far as Kasab’s fate is concerned, there is still time for that.

The Bombay High Court gave him the life sentence. The judgement was meant to show the attackers of society their right place and to regain the confidence of the public in the judiciary. The HC calls the Lashkar-e-toiba terrorist “a threat to society, who killed 7 people directly and abetted in the murder of 166 others in cold blood.” It also stated that the three senior policemen- Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were killed by Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail.

We all know that Kasab will not and cannot be packed off to the gallows immediately. He can now decide to appeal against the judgement of the High Court in the Supreme Court. And if the Supreme Court also passes a judgement in favour of the High Court’s decision, he can appeal to the president of India. So as we know, his time as a prisoner will not end soon.

People may react to the judgement saying that it is pointless. What difference does the judgement make when it has no useful outcome? But, it does have an outcome. We can say that since Kasab can further appeal in the Supreme Court and then in the High Court, the judgement is merely a waste of time and energy. What we forget to see and appreciate is that although our judicial system works at a slow pace, it gives enough space for a judgement that is fair. The CCTV footage that every Indian citizen saw on television during the 26/11 terrorist attack will make them believe that Kasab is guilty, but in the court of law it is evidence in hand that matters. The court relies on material evidence that proves that the crime was committed. The decision of the High Court does make a difference to the position of the case, as it means we’re moving forward. Other than evidence there are external factors that could influence a court’s judgement.

The judges in a court are human and like us they go through similar hardships and feelings of insecurity. When a court takes a decision, the media reacts to it and the people react to it. All these reactions create a common opinion that weighs in favour of or against the accused. This common opinion could to a certain extent change the decision of the Supreme Court and the president, if Kasab chooses to appeal against the Supreme Court judgement.

For our sake, we must continue to keep faith in the constitution and the functioning of the judiciary. The final decision may not be fair, but at least the path taken through fair trial, is the right one. We are not Saudi Arabia, we’re India.

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