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Criminalizing The Accused; Rising Trend In India

India, the nation of truth, peace, and mercy, has always adhered to the judicial philosophy of let hundreds go free, but never punish an innocent person. The country, where quite sensitive cases such as the assassination of the Prime Minister(1984) in  and the Mumbai Attack (2008) are prosecuted following a long trail of four-year  in which criminals surrendered them selves or red- handedly caught were given a fair trial before being sentenced to death.

 Current facts and evidence, on the other hand, refute this claim. Between 2000 and 2019, the jail population nearly doubled, expanding from 2,72,079 to 4,78,600 inmates, accounting for 69.10 percent of those awaiting trial, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Simultaneously, the rate of suicide in prison has more than doubled in the last two decades, from 12.12 percent per 100,000 in 2001 to 24.23 percent per 100,000 in 2019. Suicide rates in jails were 2-3 times higher in 2019 than in the general community. Pre-trial detainees have a suicide rate that is ten times higher than the overall population.

It's impossible that all of this information is coincidental. It helps us put the heightened risk of suicide in a correctional prison into perspective. In jail, suicide is the leading cause of unnatural death. Suicide fatalities account for over 71percent of all unnatural deaths documented in Indian prisons. It's also worth noting that a suicide in a prison can have long-term ramifications for the institution's culture as well as legal and political issues. Survivors of suicides that is  the relatives and friends of a suicide victim are at an increased risk of suicide as they cope with their loss.

While suicide is regarded as a serious problem in the prison environment, the topic of the elements that lead to suicidal behaviour can be for starters, the prison environment encourages suicidal behaviour.

Secondly, the inmate is experiencing a crisis scenario. Certain aspects of the jail environment, from the perspective of the inmate, encourage suicidal behaviour: fear of the unknown, distrust of the authoritarian atmosphere, a loss of apparent control over the future, and so on.

Isolation from family and important others members,  incarceration shame, and the stigma of incarceration. Aspects of incarceration that are dehumanising are also the main reasons of suicide.

Cases like the Gurugam schoolboy, Deepak Sangwan, and many more who committed suicide after being falsely accused of rape demonstrate how criminalising the accused has shook the justice system.

What justice can be served to those souls?
Women began openly stepping forward to register atrocity cases after the Nirbhaya incident, which is admirable,  but few have taken this further and utilised them as a means of self- profiting, which has ruined many innocent lives. There was  53.2 percent rise in false rape cases during April 2013 and June 2014 as per Delhi Commission of Women (DCW).

According to the NCRB crime report 2020, 12 percent of reported crimes were rejected by police on the grounds that they were fraudulent, and 55.6 percent of cases were acquitted out of the total that went to trial in court, a 32.8 percent increase over 2019. Calculatig all this statistics we can conclude that  in India, falsely accused of rape is filed  every half an hour.

Strong laws like Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) have been constantly used as a weapon for achieving political and other personal benefits. They try to intimidate their opponent  by exploiting the exact rights and laws that are supposed to protect them, oblivious to the fact that these false accusations are capable of destroying not only lives but also families. In all of these cases, the public sympathised with the victim , and the ostensibly opposing side of the tale was never mentioned. People were only able to see through the reality and join forces with the true victims after additional inquiry.

In the midst of this, one of the most odd parts of these incidents that goes overlooked in retrospect is how they were perceived when they were initially brought to the public's attention. We, who had no prior knowledge of the incident, began criticising the accused to the point of shaming the family and beyond.

If the accused turns out to be a criminal, that's another story; what if he turns out to be innocent? Do we make a concerted effort to recover his honour? Is it not our responsibility to do so?
While every criminal should be punished, this does not mean that the accused should suffer in the interim. Justice K Chandru, for example, has disposed of over 96,000 cases, the most of which were filed against tribal and "low caste" individuals who lacked a voice to speak out against the system.

But the issue to which a rational being must respond is: how often do we have leaders like Justice K Chandru?
Just in the name of trend we re-share, comment and do what not to criticize the accused. Isn't there a requirement for a strong system to control social media freedom which can assure the basic rights of an accused who has every right to be treated as Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

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