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Of Course Everyone is Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Due to insane levels of social and media activism, many court cases begin with two unequal parties: one, the criminal, and the other, the victim. The most rational of people seem to be forgetting that a court case is made of two equal parties: one, the prosecution, and the other, the defence.

A rape accused is a rapist right from the first day, and the media and the people have already decided he should be hanged (or publicly stoned to death). A murder suspect is a cold-blooded murderer right from the day of the crime, and the judge is being a loser and the justice system is being corrupt if it is stretching the case for years. People are putting in too many emotions in what is actually a very straightforward, but not so simple, process:

1. The prosecution tries to prove the allegations.
2. The defence tries to disprove them.
3. When the prosecution can convince the judge about all the allegations, and the defence can’t disprove them, beyond reasonable doubt, only then does a defendant become a convict.

Many people seem to think that the law should work the way they want it to. They fail to realize that by approaching one case differently, we set a precedent, which is harmful to the future of legal procedure. If there is a criminal case where it is obvious who committed the crime, and we start hanging those accused people based on verdicts given by activists and the media, we are giving out the message that an elaborate trial is not required, which potentially damages the credibility of the legal procedure.

A court can’t bend its procedure to suit a section of the society for one case that had the luxury of media attention. When two parties come to court, they are equal, and there is no third party.

Anger about someone being “innocent until proven guilty” (e.g. Kasab, Nirbhaya rape, etc.) is the result of a very poor understanding of law. Of course everyone whose crime is not legally proven is legally innocent! Just because the media says someone killed someone, and just because there is a video tape to prove it, it doesn’t mean the defendant doesn’t have the chance to disprove each of those allegations. Remember, don’t expect the trial to be over just if the prosecution can prove the crime. Everyone who thinks that the defendant doesn’t deserve the chance to disprove each of those pieces of evidence, needs a good understanding of what fairness is and what law is for.

We tend to feel strongly about people being treated as “innocent until proven guilty” because the cases we hear about are high-profile cases where usually, the accused is most likely to end up being proven to be the criminal. We forget that there are thousands of more cases going on where it may not be so obvious. And each case needs to be dealt with the same way. We may be correct in expecting certain things from a certain trial, but then, to be fair, we would have to apply the same yardstick to the millions of other unknown cases. If that started happening, our legal system would get paralyzed.

Let’s stop showing our emotions inside court cases. No, it doesn’t hamper justice. It’s the only obvious way to go about any case. If you use media and social outrage to create pressure on a judge to hang a rapist, even when the trial is ongoing, the judge is going to fear his life instead of being able to deliver true justice.

It may sound unjust at times, but this is the best, fairest system we can have. Anything else you can think of, is going to be unfair.

Originally posted as an answer to this question on Quora: Is the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” hampering the way justice is served in India?

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