Statute change must to check hostile witnesses

The acquittals in the Jessica Lall murder case expose the loopholes in the criminal justice system. Under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code, any person supposed to have some knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the case can be orally examined by a police officer. However, as the person (or witness) does not make the statement on oath, its accuracy and credibility are in doubt.

Witnesses give false evidence in the court for various reasons Thus, when the challan is complete and put up before the court for trial, they turn hostile resulting in the acquittal of the accused. This was not the case three to four decades back

Section 164 of Cr PC must be amended, making it mandatory for the investigating officer to get the statements of all witnesses recorded by a competent magistrate, particularly in heinous crimes where the maximum punishment is death penalty or life sentence. This will prevent witnesses from turning hostile as also restrain the investigating officer from misusing his position.

Dear readers

Letters to the Editor, neatly hand-written or typed, upto 150 words, should be sent to the Letters Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29 C, Chandigarh. Letters can also be emailed at the following address: letters@tribunemail.com

— Editor-in-Chief


HARI CHAND SHANKAR, Advocate, Ambala Cantonment


The Tribune deserves to be appreciated for its intrepid editorials condemning the way all the accused in the Jessica Lall murder case have been acquitted due to shoddy investigation and prosecution. The Delhi High Court’s suo motu action is commendable. It shows The Tribune’s courage and conviction, professional responsibility and ethical binding to rise to the demands of time and awaken the conscience of the concerned.

C.L. ARORA, Ferozepore City


The Tribune’s coverage of the Jessica Lall case is good. The media is more concerned about this in public interest. I am happy that the Delhi High Court has accepted the Delhi Police’s request for reopening the case. The focus should be on re-examining the witnesses and bringing the guilty to book as early as possible.



The case reminds me of the famous story by Munshi Prem Chand, Atthanni Ka Chor (Thief of 50 paise). According to him, the influential persons in our nation won’t be punished irrespective of the severity of the crimes they commit. Surely, political pressure works more than human values.

Dr SANJEEV GAUTAM, Nangal Township


The judiciary is dwarfed by the police investigating agencies. It is common knowledge that political pressure and resourcefulness do matter. The manner in which this case has been investigated tends to shatter the confidence of the general public in the justice delivery system. The rule of law seems to have lost its meaning and purpose.

C.K. BALI, Jalandhar


The missing links in the Jessica Lall case like non-recovery of the weapon, the vehicle, the two-bullet theory and the way all the key witnesses were made to turn hostile tell their own story: it is that the wealthy and powerful can get away even with murder in the world’s target democracy.

What is urgently needed is reforms in the Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code to ensure protection to witnesses and their statements on oath by the magistrate.

Brig H.S. SANDHU (retd), Panchkula

Neglected office

The Zilla Sainik Board office at Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh is a picture of neglect. It does not have urinal and toilet. As a result, ex-servicemen and their families who visit this office regularly are forced to go out. This is sending wrong signals to the nation about the government’s attitude towards ex-servicemen and hurts our self-esteem.

As an old soldier who has put in over four decades of service in the Indian Navy, I request General K.S. Jamwal, GOC-in-C, Army Training Command, Shimla, and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to look into the matter and expeditiously get a urinal and toilet sanctioned for this office.


LPG shortage

Hisar is in the grip of LPG cylinder shortage. Consumers are forced to wait for weeks for a cylinder refill. Surprisingly, cylinders issued on our account are being used by hotels, sweet shops, tea vendors, factories and other commercial units. The Deputy Commissioner should probe misuse of domestic cylinders in commercial establishments and help resolve the artificial shortage of cylinders.


Predators or saviours?

Is the aim of the Chandigarh Traffic Police to regulate or only issue challans? In any traffic jam, they seem to be more interested in looking for offenders than regulating traffic and avoiding accidents.

Surprisingly, the Traffic police are given bonus on the basis of the number of challans issued by them during the traffic weeks rather than their actual efficiency in controlling traffic. Worse, even after so many policemen being caught while taking bribes, many in the police are undaunted and bribery is in your face everywhere.

Moreover, the conduct of the police is far from civil. If you are unfortunate enough to get caught by them, you get lots of expletives as a bonus along with the challan.



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