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Legal conclave to focus on challenges

Ranchi, Aug. 19: Chief Justice Prakash Tatia today said Jharkhand is perhaps the only state where a special team of 15 security personnel is constituted to serve court summons on an accused as well as witnesses.

“It is a very uncommon situation when the court can’t find the accused to deliver justice,” he said, adding that a weak civil administration coupled with a huge staff crunch, compounded problems associated with the criminal justice system.

The chief justice observed said another uncommon feature in the state was the effort to refer every criminal case to the CBI.

“It often happens that criminals go scot free due to mistakes made by the prosecution (read police). The court is duty bound to identify faults in the investigation and take measures to plug them in order to regain faith in the state police as well as the vigilance,” Tatia told The Telegraph.

Notably, police officers fear to venture alone to serve court summons to accused as well as witnesses in Maoist-affected areas, particularly in Khunti and Chaibasa. So, it was decided recently by the state police top brass that summons will be served by the central paramilitary personnel and state forces when they go to the villages for long range patrolling.

“The challenges before the criminal justice system differ from state to state. So, we have convened a three-day mega conclave here from August 24 to identify the fresh challenges in administering the criminal justice system. Judicial minds from 13 eastern states of the country will brainstorm on the issue,” Tatia revealed.

The conclave will be attended by judges of the Supreme Court, various high courts, besides 130 senior judicial officers. It will be organised by National Judicial Academy, Jharkhand High Court and State Judicial Academy.

“We have taken several steps to strengthen and expedite the system like beginning trial through video conferencing. We have constituted a special committee, headed by a judge, to monitor investigations and trial of long pending criminal as well as corruption cases. But much more needs to be done,” the chief justice said.

Citing an example, the chief justice said Jharkhand has been facing violence by Maoists. “There is lack of awareness in the hinterland, particularly in tribal areas which has often led to brutal murders over trivial issues,” he said.

“Besides, the violence related to witchcraft always comes to the fore. The women are the prime victims, stripped in public and also killed by villagers on witchcraft charges,” he added.

Justice Tatia said the high courts have been asked to come out with issues and challenges being faced by the criminal justice system in their respective states to debate at the meet and find ways to tackle them. “Two special sessions have been slotted to discuss the region specific issues,” he added.

Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Sikkim and other north-eastern states will be participating in the conclave.