Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Superpower, eh?

Via Newindpress, Nine accused in Jessica Lall murder case walk free

A country that cannot provide justice for a young woman murdered publicly is, at best, a pretend superpower.

Paraphrasing Thomas Paine, these are the moments -- when modern India stands impotent before its feudal twin -- that try men's souls.

Shame on the Indian State.


froginthewell said...

What is so special about her being "a young woman"? And what is the correlation between justice and superpower? Why do these moments try only "men's souls"?

Indian Yuppie said...

The judgement is indeed very depressing and it really is sad that we claim to be a future super power but are still mere puppets in the hands of the rich and mighty.Indeed a sad day for India and a shameful day for all Indians

cynical nerd said...

Pot (LAPD officers acquitted in Rodney King) meets kettle (Manu Sharma et al).

Anonymous said...

Dear Primary Red:

Were you present in the trial of the murder of Jessica Lall? Did
you read the FIR? the panchamas? the transcript of the the examination in chief of all the witnesses? the cross examination? An accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt -- even in
India. The judge who heard the case found that the prosecution had not met the standards of criminality. Can I not make an argument that the judicial system in India worked as it is supposed to?

Primary Red said...

Actually, the justice system has failed to find anyone culpable of her murder. Is that not a miscarriage of justice?

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Dear Primary Red:
You are absolutely correct. There has been a miscarriage of justice by the decision of the Delhi Magistrate. If you read the newspaper reports three key eye witnesses -- model-turned actor Shayan Munshi, Karan Rajput and Shiv Das, the electrician at the restaurant where the model was shot dead -- had turned hostile. Witnesses in India turn hostile for one of two reasons: because they have been "bought" or they have been threatened.
The proper question in this situation that can be asked is whether the investigation was thorough and followed the Criminal Procedure Code. For example, did the investigating officer take the depostitions of the witnesses under oath and before a magistrate? If this was not done then it was a shoddy investigation. If it was done and the witnesses turned hostile then each of these witnesses should be prosecuted for perjury: they lied to the investigating officer or during the trial.
But please do not make blanket statements about India being a pretend superpower or this being a Thomas Paine moment or "Shame on the Indian state".
Before condemning the Indian State please understand that the Indian judicial system does have a way of working through problems like these. There is an appeal to the High Court and then to the Indian Supreme Court. Remember the the judicial process is not yet completed.

Let us look at the situation in the US which you admit is a "superpower". 174 people were exonerated (since 1992) by the efforts of Barry Scheck and the "Innocence Project". Can you argue that a country that has wrongfully convicted so many people is a "pretend" superpower?
In Illinois 13 innocent men were freed from death row. This finding prompted the outgoing governor of Illinois, George H. Ryan, who had previously ordered a moratorium on executions by the state, to commute all death penalties in his state in January 2003. In each of these cases there was a miscarriage of justice. I wonder how many innocent people have been executed or still incarcerated in the US?

Anonymous said...


Exactly my point. In a good investigation the statement of the witness is always under oath and before a magistrate. The CrPC already provides for statements under oath: there is no need for further amendments. The Indian State is not at fault; the people who man the system are to be blamed for this fiasco.

Primary Red said...

Actually, if you look carefully, the state of law and order (which is the responsibility of the Indian State) is completely broken down in India. Our police -- at all levels -- are ineffective at best, and corrupt at worst. Innocent people are terrified of the police while criminals walk around with impunity.

To compare the horrendous law and order circumstance in India to that in the US is unhelpful.

Best regards

Rishi Gajria said...

Absolutely Right.

Rishi Gajria said...


If there is no justice for a woman who has been murdered in public in front of dozens of people, we are not even a pretend power. Our economic achievemnets count for squat.

Jaffna said...

Primary Red,

Fascinating debate. You sure know how to get a superb discussion rolling. I am not competent to discuss the Jessica Lal case since I have not been following it. But one point you made got me thinking and that is this:

"To compare the horrendous law and order circumstance in India to that in the US is unhelpful".

Let me respond. I think the judiciary in India and police do need a revamp. I agree with you.

This said, I do not think that the record of the United States is that clean either.

The United States fares poorly on race relations. A study of the National Urban League dated March 24, 2004 highlights the fact that there are five African-American murder victims to every white American murder victim. FBI Crime Statistics indicate that there were 93,233 rape cases of women in the United States in 2003. One million abused women are treated at First Aid Centers in the United States every year. 1,500 American women are murdered by their husbands or lovers each year. 78% of American women are subject to physical assault at least once in their life time.

In the decade 1994-2004, the United States spent US$ 7 billion to build new jails. America's prisons are its second largest employer after General Motors with 530,000 personnel on their payroll. The October 12, 2004 edition of the New York Times reports that 13% of prison inmates in the United States are raped in custody.

A publication of the United States Department of Justice dated November 29, 2004 reveals that 31,000 Americans are killed by firearms each year. This translates into 80 people shot dead every day. Police violence is a serious problem.


Anonymous said...

Primary Red:

How can you wish away the 174 exonerations by the "Innocence Project". These statistics are astounding and can be interpreted as 174 people being framed by the police in the United States. I wonder how many innocent people are languishing in the US jails? Can I not argue that the police in the US are no different from the police in India? Moreover, Blacks and Hispanics live in constant fear of police brutality. Does the "American State" afford them any protection?

cynical nerd said...

Well people, things are not hunky dory in Europe either. There was this Outreau case in which several people accused of paedophile jailed for years were unltimately freed by the appeals court. Then the worst conditions of French prisons with 80% filled by Arabs/Blacks (who constitute only 10% of population).


Anonymous said...

Jessica Lall case and the Acquittal :

I' equally saddened. This is atrocious and makes a laughing stock of our system of criminal investigation & criminal justice. This is a Blot on the nation. More at



Indian Yuppie said...

Its high time we did something to correct the flaws in the legal system.Join in the fight to get a retrial http://yuppieland.blogspot.com/2006/02/jessica-lall-blind-justice.html


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