Question: You are a public prosecutor working on a case which involves sexual assault and murder of a young student. You have worked hard to ensure that the accused will be awarded the capital punishment. The day before the verdict in Supreme Court, you come across a new evidence that completely changes the outcome of the case. You take the evidence to your senior but he advises you to bury it and not to use it. There is high public pressure on the government and police to punish the accused without delay but you don’t want to punish an innocent just for the sake of pressure.
What are the various issues involved in the case? Discuss available options and the one you will choose.
Answer: Justice delayed is justice denied. But it does not mean that an innocent is punished for fulfilling dispensing of justice. There has to be a mechanism that will ensure that only the guilty is punished.
The above case is a test of integrity and empathy that seeks to arrive at the right solution in a right way. A professional is expected to take the right decision.
- Life of innocent
My course of action will decide life and death for the accused. If I try to bury the evidence to honour public sentiments, I will be doing a great disservice to my profession and integrity.
- Honour of the government
My position as a public prosecutor represents the government. After all the events and prosecution, if the case falls apart, then the government will be a piece of ridicule for public. My future action should also consider this aspect.
- Justice for victim
I will have to make great deal of efforts to convince the victim’s family that the accused is no longer an accused. This will be great setback for their fight to get justice.
- Personal integrity
As a professional lawyer, I’m supposed to give up ethical concerns and focus on only job at hand. But this will be a difficult situation where I will have to risk an innocent getting killed for my unethical actions.
- Public sentiments
Public sentiments are high in such cases and even the government will be unable to go against such heavy pressure. My actions should consider such a scenario.
- Presenting new evidence
I will have to convince my superior to allow me to present the new evidence in the court. The result will be backlash by the judiciary and we may risk losing our jobs.
- Provide new evidence to defence lawyer
Give the new evidence to the defence lawyer so that he can use it to defer the case to a new date. This will also prevent me from embarrassing the government.
- Take victim family into confidence
Convince the victim’s family to accept the new development so that it will not result in backlash. Prevent them from making inflammatory statements. Assure them that the real perpetrator will be brought to justice.
- I would take superior into confidence and request for buying some time to examine the new evidence and present a new case.
- I would provide the new evidence to Court and request for a new hearing. For that, I will have to bring in additional proof.
- Finally, I would put all efforts to identify the real accused and ensure that capital punishment is given to the accused.
Thus, in a hurry to give justice to victim I would be denying justice to the falsely accused. Instead, more efforts will have to be put to punish the real accused.