Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani of the Delhi High Court stressed the susceptibility of judges and investigating agencies to media influence, stating, "We must always remind ourselves and be conscious that as judges, as counsel, and as people otherwise engaged in a criminal justice system, we are all influenced, even if subliminally, with what we read and that influences our thinking." He cautioned against the impact of media narratives and trials on the course of cases.
Speaking at an event organized by the Centre for Discourses on Criminal and Constitutional Jurisprudence, Justice Bhambhani discussed the challenges to fair trials, including media pressure, investigating agencies' practices, and the importance of legal aid.
Justice Bhambhani raised concerns about authorities seizing electronic documents selectively and then presenting only a fraction as evidence, calling for reforms in this aspect. He highlighted, "In a lot of investigations happening now in financial crimes, the Investigating Officers raid offices, pick up electronic records wholesale, and walk away with servers, computer systems. They neither leave copies nor make clones and out of the 10,000 emails, they will produce five before the court and say 'Look this man is guilty.'"
Justice Siddharth Mridul also spoke on the presumption of innocence at the event, stating, "[Presumption of innocence] is in a way the elixir of the criminal justice system. It is evidently today a recognized legal right. I would go to the extent of saying that it is a fundamental right." He highlighted the significance of individual liberty in a thriving democracy and stressed that the protection of personal liberty is now a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
Justice Mridul further elaborated on the 'crime control model' and the 'due process model' in the justice system, emphasizing their shared objective of punishing the guilty while safeguarding the innocent, despite their differing approaches.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University