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Need for a united fight on crime - The Observer

Olga Tellis ()
July 21, 1998

Title: Need for a united fight on crime
Author: Olga Tellis
Publication: The Observer
Date: July 21, 1998

The law and order situation in the capital of the country and its
commercial capital, namely Delhi and Mumbai, has become so scary
that a more drastic and logical solution Is needed than is
hitherto presented. This is not to claim that the one presented
here is the most logical solution but it will go a long way In
getting the parties involved to play a more positive role in
retrieving the situation on the law and order front.

With people willing to murder just for Rs 10,000, the
glorification of the criminals in the media and the luxurious
life-style of the dons inspire ambitious youth and underworld
extortionists getting bolder by the day, it is usually and always
the police that are taken to task.

Some say that in Mumbai there is a shortage of policemen and the
goondas think they can get away. Delhi has more policemen than
Mumbai, but the situation there is worse. The total police
manpower in Delhi is 52,974 for 10 million citizens compared to
Mumbai's 38,505 for a population of 13.5 million.

The annual budget of the Delhi police is Rs 571 crore and that of
the Mumbai police is Rs 218 crore. Delhi's police chiefs complain
of migrant gangsters from UP and Bihar which makes it difficult
to control crime, but Mumbai has ten times the migrants that
Delhi welcomes.

The criminal justice system consists of the police, the
prosecutor, the judiciary and the jails and, of course, the
citizens also have a role to play.

This article concerns the judiciary and the jails. There is a
perception widely held, that both these institutions are too
liberal with the accused.

For Instance in Mumbai between 1995 and 1998 of the 700 men of
various gangs arrested, and of these 250 were permitted by courts
to get their food from their homes or five star hotels. 390 are
on bail.

The liberalism of the courts is misused by the accused. They are
able to manipulate the courts and their procedures. The
underworld don Arun Gawli, for instance, was sent to Amravati
jail and he managed to get dates of his hearing fixed in such a
way that he had to appear in different courts every week.

So it was decided to lodge him in Thane jail and the cases
against him are always adjourned. Only one case is partly head in
one court. But following his shift to Thane jail, within a month
46 of his followers landed in Thane jail where there were only
four earlier.

They managed to get themselves interned in Thane jail from
different parts of the state's jails, like Kolhapur, Pune and
Nasik and according to the police, Gawli holds court with them
through his cellular phone.

Extortion demands are made over the cellular phones and there is
no way the police can stop this 'business as usual' from the
jails without the cooperation of the judiciary and the jail

The dons and their followers live in luxury. They even get
themselves admitted to the hospitals of their choice and not
where the police would like them admitted according to the law.

One gangster, Farooq Konkani, who was also involved in the serial
bomb blasts in 1993, was in the Thane Civil Hospital but got
himself transferred to J J Hospital so that he could have home
food and help in escape.

The police objected to this but the court pulled up the police
and told them that it was none of their business. To cut a long
story short, Konkani hoodwinked the police and escaped from the J
J Hospital and the police have yet not found him.

Criminals have access to the best legal brains and their capacity
to pay is tremendous. The result is that these legal luminaries
can get their clients out of the clutches of the law and the
poorly paid public prosecutors don stand a chance.

Most legislation under the guise or in the name of human rights,
is pro-accused and anti-establishment with the result that it is
next to impossible to actually nail the accused.

Judges don't see this and don't take into consideration the
overall circumstantial evidence that is before them. There is a
lot of hair-splitting, of course, always on hindsight. So on
technical faults the accused are acquitted.

Criminals naturally feel that they can get away even with murder.
Interestingly, both cellular phone operators in Mumbai, BPL and
Maxtouch, have as indirect role in making the police task
difficult and helping the gangsters to escape detection.

The gangsters, according to the police, have been increasingly
going high-tech in their communication systems and have been
using INSTA and ACE cards. They are emboldened in the use of the
cellular because they know they can never be tracked down. These
cards make It Impossible for the police to trace their calls.

The Mumbai police have been trying to persuade the cellular
companies, namely BPL and Maxtouch to sell INSTA and ACE cards to
customers only after ascertaining their identity through their
passports, voter's card or driving licence.

But the two companies are unwilling to do so, according to the
police. They have also taken this up with the state government
which has m turn brought the matter to the notice of the Centre.

So far nothing has materialised and BPL and Maxtouch continue to
be adamant as they feel it will effect their business.

It is imperative that there should be a continuous dialogue
between the courts, police, jail authorities and the home
secretary and the home minister to resolve issues emanating from
the liberalism of the courts.

At the state level there can be a set-up consisting of the chief
justice, home secretary and the police commissioner. At the
district level there could be the collector, the superintendent
of police and the district judge.

At the city level there can be a metropolitan magistrate, a joint
commissioner, crime, and additional commissioner and so on.

But there is a desperate need to have some kind of an
institutionalised set up where each party can give his point of
view and there is an understanding of each one's point of view.

Someone has to take the initiative both in Mumbai and Delhi in
the cause of justice and the law and order which effects the life
and morale not only of the citizens but of the police force.
There is a widespread belief that those with money can get away
with murder and this is true if you look at the jails which are
full of poor people.

Maybe the Chief Justice of India should take up this matter with
his fellow chief justices around the country. The judiciary has
been blamed for too many criminals going scot free.

In the 1993 serial bomb attacks in Mumbai, the' main accused were
let off by the Calcutta High Court. This is just one of many
instances where the liberalism of the courts has thwarted the
course of justice and is hitting at the very foundations of

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