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The Aarushi Murder Case – Why castigate the Judge?

The time-honoured Blackstone’s Formulation, “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”, once again appeared to manifest itself with the acquittals of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the double murders of their daughter, Aarushi and servant Hemraj. By giving the prime accused the benefit of doubt, the Allahabad High Court overturned the guilty verdict of the special CBI court and acquitted the Accused. It also castigated the CBI Special Judge as being unaware of his solemn duty cast by law and dealing with “the entire case in style – a finesse.”

At the outset, the High Court’s chastisement of the CBI judge is clearly uncalled for. The powers of an Appellate Court are provided under Section 386 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In an appeal from conviction, the High Court may reverse the finding and acquit the Accused, direct a retrial or dismiss it, maintaining the sentence. Nowhere does the law provide any means to cast personal aspersions on the character or integrity of the subordinate judge.

Thus, the High Court, at the very outset, overstepped the mandate of 386 Cr.P.C. The trial-judges are after all, constitute the prime machinery of the criminal justice system. Such adverse observations may even impact the CBI judge’s prospects of career advancement. It is imperative that these statements be expunged forthwith.

Abha Singh

Abha Singh is a former civil servant and presently an advocate practicing in the Bombay High Court. She is a renowned social activist who has done considerable work in the realm of woman’s rights, gender equality and justice. She has done an M.Phil on Child Rights from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Abha Singh was the third runner-up and the lead woman finalist in the Times of India Lead India Campaign in 2008. She was further awarded the Chevening Scholarship to attend the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her talk ‘Honour Killings in India and the Legal Complications of Section 498A” at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London received widespread acclaim. Abha Singh was also invited as a speaker at TEDx Oxbridge, conducted jointly by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in May, 2017. Sensing the call of duty beyond service, she gave up a successful career in the Government to serve a larger cause by donning the robes of the legal profession. Abha Singh obtained a law degree from Bombay University while working as a Government. Abha Singh took up the case of the two Palghar girls in right earnest when she learnt about their unlawful arrest by the Police for innocent comments on Facebook. Due to her perseverance the guilty cops were suspended and the girls were exonerated honorably. Abha Singh has been successfully pursuing the Salman Khan Hit-and-Run case to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and the youth are educated against the hazards of drunken driving.

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