Whenever there is a terrorist attack or incident, or say for that matter a heinous crime committed. As a common citizen we expect the guilty to be hanged instantly. Oh! Come on isn’t that a genuine feeling? Which every morally upright mortal must have? But when the justice is delivered by courts they are obliged to give fair hearing to the one who is accused of committing heinous crime, this is to make sure that the notions of “Principles of Natural Justice” are upheld and not to mention the notions of civilized society.
I would call it is as a journey to justice delivery? From the moment of crime committal till conviction it is a journey indeed, at the heart of this journey to justice the role of police/law enforcement personnel is indispensible, whose job is to gather independent witnesses against the accused and prosecute him. Because statements of the accused cannot be used as the only evidence to prosecute. Independent, corroborative evidence is essential.
In terror crimes often accused will admit that he is committed the crime, because terrorists want some publicity. If Alqueda attacks America, India or Israel they want to boast that in the name of Allah they have done it. But the challenge will be who influenced or what him to commit it, case of 2008 Mumbai attack? For example in Parliament attack case of 2001 the main accused Afzal Guru has accepted that he has committed the crime, read my write-up. But it is understood that to find out the immediate motives it has taken time. The constitution guarantees “Right against Self Incrimination” to the accused who may choose to remain silent, but this is not the best in world at least not a best one than US. In America police officers have to read out the rights an accused has before arresting or while interrogating him. Can you imagine that happening in India? In a land mark case Miranda v/s Arizona the Supreme Court consolidated and upheld the rights given to Americans by fifth and sixth amendment, from then on it was called as Miranda warning.
Ever watched the movie Phone Booth? In that movie Forest Whitaker will read Miranda rights to the alleged accused Collin Farrell. Easy to understand Miranda rights by watching that movie.
1. They have the right to remain silent
2. Anything the suspect does say can and MAY be used against them;
3. They have the right to have an attorney present before and during the questioning
4. they have the right, if they cannot afford the services of an attorney, to have one appointed, at public expense and without cost to them, to represent them before and during the questioning
There seems to be a public safety exception, there seems to an intense debate after the Boston bomb blast on this exception, in my opinion the Boston bomb suspect’s case falls within public safety exception. Once resorted to this exception and if it’s necessary is upheld, enforcement officers chose to ignore Miranda warning or the accused cannot ask to suppress his statements. When there is an imminent threat to public safety, Miranda warning is certainly not necessary. Otherwise the expectation from courts is that statements made by accused should be voluntary. If the element of voluntariness is not established they are assumed to be statements acquired through coercion which cannot be considered as evidence and the police must be ready for strictures.
Just like in India confessions acquired through coercion are considered as no evidence to incriminate someone.
In an underdeveloped (with respect to people’s activism per se) country like India accused neither know what their rights are against self incrimination nor told what they are by police though they are entitled to. Often the illiterate innocents are punished by confessions acquired deftly by crooked police. And there is no way for the judge to establish whether a particular statement was given voluntarily by the accused. He may ask him orally, for which the hapless would say, yes. Because this is perfectly stage-managed by police. While most of the Miranda’s elements of India and US match, the only component that seems to stand out is letting the accused know their rights understandably do not happen though the accused has a right to know. And this must be strictly imposed on Indian police who should be made to read accused their rights before arresting him or at the time of interrogation. Convictions rates might fall?