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Putting an innocent in jail

August 08, 2012

 THE case of Zakir Hossain sentenced to [a] life term in jail of which he had served five years till his mistaken identity was revealed is a glaring example of victimisation of an innocent [man] in the name of law enforcement.

Arrested in 2007 in connection with a case filed in 1991 … police produced him before a Narayanganj court. The court sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The first horrific law-enforcement lapse to note is that after 16 years of the incident, the accused, including the victim, were picked up signifying unforgivable foot-dragging in the case. Then [came] the fundamentally flawed arrest of a namesake of the accused, taking him to … court with eventual handing out of the conviction. However, a recent home ministry probe … has brought to light the horrendous tale of Zakir, whose only fault was sharing the same name with another individual.

No investigation, no cross checking of identity at any level, just arbitrarily picking up an innocent person and forcing him into imprisonment. It may have been a typical case of forced confession which the … policemen resorted to only in order to camouflage the fact that they utterly failed to put the real culprit in the dock.

It is a grave injustice done to an innocent person and his family, a stark instance of human rights violation of the worst kind. This is completely anachronistic to any semblance of rule of law.

It really worries us to think there may well have been several similar instances where the real culprits have gone scot-free. This is a pitiable illustration of a contrast in [the] criminal justice system with poor conviction rates and jails swarmed with under-trial prisoners.

We think it is a case of utmost importance which needs to be taken very seriously by the home ministry and further probed to fix responsibility and punish the perpetrators.

Misuse of power by police and other agencies … has been under focus. To enforce accountability among the police, the institution needs to be reformed….— (Aug 7)