Police encounters and lacunas

Published Dec 19, 2012 12:09am

INSINUATIONS about the bogus nature of police encounters in Punjab have been rife for quite some time. Circumstantial evidence from the scene of these alleged encounters sometimes does indeed point towards the possibility of any foul play on the part of the police.

The typical argument that exponents of these so-called encounters make is that there are many lacunas in our criminal justice system and that it is very difficult to convict hardened criminals in the absence of watertight evidence.

The counter-argument could, of course, be to amend our criminal laws and improve the quality of our investigation, as well as of prosecution.

Swift justice meted to the criminal on the spot does indeed appeal to many people, and has enormous cathartic value as well.

It can, however, never be a substitute for a fair trial and the due process of law. Great harm that this form of rough and ready justice does to society is that it brutalises and desensitises the people. The brutal beating to death of the two brothers in Sialkot is a case in point.

AKBAR JAN MARWAT Islamabad

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