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India's criminal justice system itself can be a punishment: Supreme Court

Indias criminal justice system itself can be a punishment: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that India's criminal justice system itself can be a punishment. The bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka was addressing a case that remained pending for 13 years.

The bench was discharging three accused in an alleged abetment of suicide case registered back in 2008. The appeals were filed after the April 2009 verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had dismissed the pleas assailing the trial court's order framing charges against them in the case.

The order passed on November 24 said: "Fourteen years on an issue of abetment of suicide in an episode where a student was reprimanded for misconduct in college and an endeavour to take disciplinary action and call the father, though the parent did not turn up, and subsequently the child committed suicide. An unfortunate situation."

The student who died by suicide was attending a lecture by one of the accused. He was alleged to have misbehaved in class under the influence of alcohol. The institute suspended the student from the class and asked him to bring his parents in disciplinary action. The student committed suicide by jumping into the canal instead of complying with the disciplinary action.

The student's father filed a complaint for the alleged offence under section 306 of the IPC claiming that the suicide was instigated by the three accused - the teacher, the head of the department, and the principal.

The Supreme Court said: "The present appeals were preferred, assailing that order (of the high court) and interim stay was granted at the threshold. The trial of course naturally did not proceed in view of the stay by this court. The matter has rested at that for the last 13 years."

"It is the say of the father, the complainant (who was certainly not present to witness what happened) that some students were causing the noise and it was not the son/deceased. While we appreciate the anguish of a father who has lost a young son, that cannot result in blaming the world (in the present case, the institution, and its teachers) for what is a basic disciplinary action necessary for running the institute. A contra position would create a lawless and unmanageable situation in an educational institution," observed the top court.

The bench also said the investigation and the approach of the trial court should have been more realistic keeping in mind the surrounding facts and circumstances of the suicide.

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