Conceal, mislead, convict: That's no victory

A lawyer died

His wake was big, the cortege long.

Seems that he had done no wrong.

He lay in state, seemed free of sin,

But in hand, each mourner, had a pin.

Each pricked the corpse, nNo word was said,

They just made sure, the man was dead.

Readers are free to decide on the veracity.

Lawyers get a bad name because our system of litigation is adversarial. One person has to lose and therefore the other’s advocate becomes the villain. No one faults the adversary himself. Always the lawyer. Sometimes, however, the lawyer deserves to be vilified.

Courts decide matters on proof. Documentary proof is best. Followed by verbal testimony and cross-examination. Almost every time that proof does exist, yet, often, the courts are unaware of its existence. A decision by a court, in such a case, may be flawed. Who then is to be blamed?

Our laws require that all proof must be put on the table; even if is adverse to one’s interest. This axiom follows from the belief that the primary duty of a court of law is to find the truth. Orders, judgements, convictions, acquittals, awards, fines, dismissals flow from that. Without access to the truth, the court is handicapped.

Our laws require that all proof must be put on the table; even if is adverse to one’s interest. This axiom follows from the belief that the primary duty of a court of law is to find the truth. Orders, judgements, convictions, acquittals, awards, fines, dismissals flow from that. Without access to the truth, the court is handicapped.

What is stated above must be news, or anathema, to our readers. The standard reaction of most litigants is, “Why should I produce this as evidence?”, when asked to present the inconvenient truths. But the law demands it. Hide-and-seek is not a game that courts play. They can come down heavily on those who conceal vital evidence. The same is also true with concocted proof and perjury.

Public Prosecutors are appointed by the State, meaning the government, to conduct criminal trials. Their results are show-cased for all to see, especially in high publicity issues. They often become superstars. But what if they fail?

Losing one’s job, or losing an election to this office, is not palatable to most lawyers. They will die a thousand deaths for a conviction. It is this pressure that leads some astray, and the police is often there to help with manufactured proof.

YOU BE THE JUDGE in these trials.

a) Mr. X knows that his opponent, Mr. B, has some vital documents that will prove X right. B wants to hide them. X asks the judge to force B to produce the important proof. What can the judge do?

b) X says that he needs some documents to prove his case but does not have them.  B has them. What should B do?

c) A man is convicted because the prosecutor did not reveal all he knew about the man’s innocence. Later on, the proof is out, but, by then, the man has spent 18 years in prison. Can the prosecutor be punished?

In the first case, if the judge demands the papers from B, B will have to produce them. Otherwise B can lose his case. He may also be held in contempt, obstruction of justice and wrongful harassment of Mr. X, beside a host of other crimes.

In the second case, it is the duty of B to inform the court that B has the documents with him and will produce them, not to help the opponent, but to “Assist the Court”. We did exactly that two days ago, in a civil case.

The third is one example of many such trials culminating in wrongful imprisonment. After a recent American study, 20% of those convicted were set free; all victims of malicious prosecution. Many of the affected sued the government agencies and were compensated. Unfortunately, only ONE prosecutor was punished. A low level functionary, he lost his license to practice. That’s all!

Faced with similar situations, what can litigants do? They must ask their lawyers to apply to the court for documents withheld by the other side. The law permits this and it is codified in Order 11, Rule 21 of The Code of Civil Procedure. It can save months of delay.

It’s a law is just waiting to be used.

 

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