High-profile Court cases and their biased investigation

Advocate Prakash Salsingikar
‘Law is the same for all’ is the hallmark of an ideal political establishment. However, the bitter but eternal truth is that the Courts deliver justice based on the identity of the victim and the accused, and not on the merits of the case. In this article, Advocate Prakash Salsingikar (Special Attorney, Mumbai) sheds light on some high-profile Court cases, the importance and publicity they get, how it affects the investigation and the underlying factors.

1. High profile case related to explosives found near Mukesh Ambani’s residence and the subsequent death of Mansukh Hiren has become a hot topic

On 26th February 2022, Police found gelatin sticks in a Scorpio SUV parked near business tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai. Police initially told the media that ‘Jaish-ul-Hind’, a terrorist organisation, had claimed responsibility for parking the explosive-laden car near Ambani’s residence. However, ‘Jaish-ul-Hind’ denied any role in the incident. The investigation into the matter revealed that Mansukh Hiren was the owner of the Scorpio. However, Police found his dead body at Kalwa creek on 5th March 2022, and this became a hot topic of discussion in Maharashtra.

The ruling party, the opposition parties and their allies made various claims and counter-claims. Later, the Government transferred the case to the ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) and the NIA (National Investigation Agency), and their investigations are continuing to date. The Ambanis are no ordinary family; Mukesh Ambani’s business empire is included in the Forbes list and he is the 10th most richest men in the world of 2022. Sachin Vaze (a suspended Assistant Police Inspector) is assumed to be closely involved in this case. His tenure as an encounter specialist, alleged involvement in the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus (a suspect in the 2002 Ghatkopar bombing case), entry into a political party and the position offered by the Maharashtra Government when he re-joined the State Police department has made it a high-profile case.

2. In high-profile cases, everyone’s agenda is to fulfil their self-interest

We have seen from many past instances that when the accused or the victim is financially strong, or if he is a politician, a Bollywood celebrity or a religious leader, the case becomes a high-profile case. In such cases, everyone tries to further their own agenda and influence the investigation to achieve his goals. Since these people are not ordinary citizens, their involvement unnecessarily affects the ongoing investigation. Many times, just when the investigating agencies are about to crack any case, the probe gets derailed due to their high-profile influence.

3. Frequent media coverage and the interviews given by these high-profile fraudsters derail the probe

Due to the prominence of these fraudsters, the people are greatly interested in regular updates on the ongoing investigation. In this digital era, news reaches the people in a fraction of a second. Similarly, it also provides an opportunity for the criminal to become alert. The initial few days after any crime are critical for collecting evidence or destroying it. Frequent media coverage tends to alert the criminals, and they could utilise this opportunity to destroy the evidence
In the Mansukh Hiren murder case, there were no eyewitnesses. Hence, at best, the Courts would have to rely on circumstantial evidence. Police will have to connect the dots with some critical clues, such as – where did Mansukh go before his death, did he contact anyone from his mobile or send a text message or WhatsApp, did anyone contact him, what do the CCTV footages portray from the time he left his house till his dead body was found, which mobile tower provided the network when his phone was switched off and which area does that tower cater to, who was he last seen with, were there any injury marks on his body, was anything stolen from him.

If Police can answer these and present a logical chain of events to the Honourable Court, then only can justice be delivered. There is usually a lot of hype about these prominent cases during the initial phase. Nevertheless, the accused get acquitted after some time since the statements given by these influential people during the investigation turn out to be false.

Different investigating agencies report completely different findings. For example, in the Malegaon case, one investigation agency claimed that the blast was carried out by Hindus, while the other agency said Muslims were responsible. After 10 years, the Sessions Court acquitted 9 Muslims accused in the case.

4. Investigating agencies prolong the investigation to cover up their failure and ignominy

Police have filed 2-3 charge sheets in many high-profile murder cases due to deliberate distraction and misdirection. In reality, all these charge sheets portray different stories. In such cases, the investigating agencies are left with no other option but to cover up their failure and associated ignominy by dragging on the case for some or the other reason and putting the accused in jail. The accused and his family face great difficulties in the process.

The longer it will take to resolve the Mansukh Hiren murder case, the weaker it will become. In this case, the politicians should earnestly try to provide justice to the Hiren family and not use this case for personal political goals.

The Supreme Court and the High Courts have time and again directed the Police to present a logical chain of events in cases wherein circumstantial evidence has not been available. Even if one sequence is broken, it leads to two distinct possibilities and associated inferences.

The law is clear in such cases – the odds are in favour of the accused, which could lead to the acquittal of the accused.

In light of this fact, it is extremely important that the Police cross-examine all the suspects and promptly get the relevant information from the family members of the accused and others and collect the evidence. In this way, the Police can reach a coherent conclusion.

If Mansukh Hiren was indeed murdered, then immediate action to arrest those responsible, prosecute and convict them would help deter the criminals from such acts.

– Advocate Prakash Salsingikar ( Mumbai.)

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