Talking about the recent spate of mob beating that led to the death of a number of innocent victims while injuring many, Dr M Enamul Huq, former Inspector General of Police Bangladesh, also visiting expert, UNO, gave us his view on how the context was created over the years.
‘I would try to clarify one thing which I have repeatedly said that the general people think that the law enforcement is the sole responsibility of the police. I beg to differ. Presently, everybody is talking about incidents where there may have been ‘mob justice’ in action, and the result has clearly not been up to the expectation of the general public,’ observed Enamul Huq.
To me, there are four organs — Police, Prosecution, Court and Correction — to ensure justice. In our country, we don’t say ‘Correction’, we say ‘jail sentence’. ‘The four organs I mention here are very much interlinked if we are to attain the desired goal through punishing the offenders duly and releasing the innocent timely,’ explained the former IGP of police.
I read in a newspaper that about 56,000 narcotics cases are pending now. Though the government has passed a law in this regard, the relevant tribunal has not yet been set up. These are the shortcomings. I am not defending the police, but I must say that the police aren’t solely responsible, he adds.
He contended that the police alone cannot deliver justice.
‘They must do their duties within the framework of relevant laws but the other organs should also need to do their jobs properly to ensure the desired result.
After police submits a charge sheet, it is the duty of the prosecution to ensure that the witnesses attend court, the witness evidences have all been tested and they are not harassed so that other people are not discouraged to become witnesses. Now, certain cases remain pending for years. It is the prosecution’s duty to bring the cases to the court’s notice,’ he argued.
‘Inordinate delay cannot be tolerated by innocent people. Very recently, we have seen the incident of Jahalam who had to suffer good many years of imprisonment because of whimsical, unauthorised and not duly monitored investigations,’ he said, adding that he was in jail without committing any crime.
Prosecution is very important, Enamul Huq observed and hastened add that, the court, of course, is to work for both the sides — the prosecution and the defence. Those who cannot afford to contest the trial with their own resources can be and should be desirably helped by the legal aid agencies of the government.
After proper prosecution and fair trial, it is the duty of court to ensure that he or she gets due punishment for the offence that has been proved. Till the verdict is given, the accused cannot be called a convict. Conviction must make the accused feel that they got their due because of their wrongdoings,› he explained.
On Correction, on which Enamul Huq put a lot of emphasis, he said that after the conviction period, it is assumed that one would be a changed person and would not repeat the crime.
Rehabilitation after Correction would mean that they are able to live in the society as normal human beings so that one forgets the image that he or she once committed a crime. This is real justice, he said.
We say ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ but one must remember that ‘justice hurried is justice buried’. So, if we were to ensure that proper treatment had been meted out to the victim and also to the offender, both could feel that justice had been done, he explained.
‘Yes, there are shortcomings — not only in the judiciary but also in other institutions of the criminal justice system. There are lapses and shortcomings, but we must ensure that we try and overcome them,’ said Enamul Huq, adding that an unintentional shortcoming is one thing, but an intentional shortcoming is a very serious matter.
He cited an example in Jahalam’s incident as he believed that it could have been prevented had there been regular supervision.
‘An offender has the right to prove himself or herself not guilty until court verdict. When proved by the court that one is guilty, definitely they should suffer for the crime committed. Justice needs to be meted out with all the strictness of the law and its purpose,’ he said.
But, he cautioned, one should also remain very neutral at every step of the way. Justice never allows any party or an individual to take the law in his or her own hands. Rule of law must be respected, honoured and formalities must be observed. Legal assistance must be ensured for the offender and legal remedy should be given to the victim.
‘Irregularities are gradually increasing. Sorry to say that things have been happening which ought to have been prevented long ago,’ observed Enamul Huq. Due investigation, proper conduct of prosecution, neutral judgement of the court and the humane behaviour of the Correctional Institute — all these factors need to be monitored and observed, he argued.
Law is equal for everybody. But this hardly is followed. Sometimes, it varies from person to person. We should know three things — the law itself, how the law should be applied equally and effectively, and lastly when handling any legal issue, your sincerity of purpose must be visibly represented, he pointed out.
‘Of Course, the society as a whole has its responsibility. First, I will go to my family, if I cannot control my own daughter or son, who else can? Then the responsibility falls on a teacher. And then comes the relatives and the society as a whole. In the end, it is the environment, it is the early education,’ he argued.
In our early age, we had to memorise one thing — ‘always speak the truth’ and ‘respect the seniors, love the juniors’.
Dr M Enamul Huq concluded by emphasising our personal duty to the society: ‘You have to take the responsibility if your family members are doing anything wrong, and prevention is always better than cure. You, family members, and policymakers can play a vital role by passing through the “Stormy Today” to help make a “Better Tomorrow.”’
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Interview