Saturday, 2 March, 2024

Crime & Justice Delivery

With Rautahat District Court’s decision to send suspended Nepali Congress lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam to judicial custody on the charge of burning alive scores of injured persons, the interim verdict has not only made the victims’ families heave a sigh of relief but this has also set new legal standards regarding the delivery of justice. Alam had allegedly perpetrated a heinous crime that makes anyone’s flesh creep. Done under the political protection, his crime was brutally hushed up, with the victims and their kin being pushed from pillar to post.

Police, local administration, the Office of Attorney General and political leadership had seemingly connived at thwarting the case in favour of the perpetrators. Even the media and civil society circles appeared indifferent to the voice of the victims. Their repeated call for justice was lost in the wilderness. There was a slim chance for hauling the alleged criminals to the court but it was the frequently issued instructive orders of the Supreme Court that finally impelled the Office of the Attorney to proceed with the court case against Alam for its officials risked facing legal action over the disobedience of the apex court.

It is only after the final verdict of the Rautahat district court that there will come full view of judgement. Now it decided to remand Alam in judicial custody following eight days of trial hearing. A single bench of Justice Deepak Dhakal made the decision in accordance with Section 67 (1) B of the Criminal Court Procedure. As per this, any offence that is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment spanning more than three years, the court may remand such a person in detention for trial recording, reported this daily the other day. The court official has argued that Alam failed to prove himself innocent during the court trial. It will continue to collect the evidences of his involvement in the crime in which around two dozen persons, injured in a bomb blast at Rajpur of Rautahat on the eve of first Constituent Assembly election in 2008, were tossed into the furnace of brick kiln.

The district court has made two other important orders regarding the Alam case. Considering the security situation, it has allowed the police to transfer Alam from Gaur jail to any other prison. This decision came in the wake of continuing protests of Alam’s supporters in Gaur. They sought to obstruct the court proceedings and put undue pressure on judge assigned to hear the case and pass the judgement on it. In yet another ruling, the district court asked the local administration to provide security to the victims, witnesses and informants who have been constantly facing life threat from Alam’s men. One victim, namely Gauri Shankar Ram Chamar, had lodged a complaint at the Rautahat District Court, demanding that he be provided security. He stated that he was taken hostage for four days and forced to change his previous statement in favour of Alam. Other witnesses and victims have been also threatened or induced with money or land provided they reversed their earlier statements recorded in the court. It is the rational ruling of court to ensure the safety of witnesses and victims as this helps carry out justice execution smoothly and fairly.