Justice loses its character if it becomes revenge, says CJI a day after Hyderabad encounter

New Delhi: Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, who took oath as the 47th Chief Justice of India last month, on Saturday said that justice should not be misunderstood as revenge. His statement came a day after all four accused in the rape and murder of a young Hyderabad veterinarian were shot dead in a pre-dawn encounter.

“Justice should not be revenge. I believe Justice loses its character as Justice if it becomes revenge,” he said.

He said recent events in the country had sparked off an old debate with new vigour, where there was no doubt that the criminal justice system must reconsider its position and attitude towards the time it took to dispose of a criminal matter.

“Justice is never ought to be instant. Justice must never ever take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character when it becomes revenge. There is a need in the judiciary to invoke self-correcting measures but whether or not they should be publicised is a matter of debate,” he said.

“We have to devise methods for not only speeding up litigation but all together preventing it. There are laws which provide for pre-litigation mediation,” he said, adding that there was a need to consider compulsory pre-litigation mediation.

Describing last year’s press conference by four senior most judges of the apex court as a self-corrective measure, Bobde said,”I believe the institution (judiciary) must correct itself and indeed it did during the time when the much-criticised press conference was held. It was nothing more than a self-corrective measure and I do not wish to justify it.”

Cyberabad police on Friday said the accused, lorry workers aged between 20 and 26, were killed during an exchange of fire that took place between 5.45 am and 6.15 am when they were taken by a 10-member team to the scene of the crime at Chattanpalli, 50 km near Hyderabad, from an undisclosed location for a reconstruction of events as part of the investigation.

Prime accused Mohammed Arif(26), Chennakeshavulu, Jollu Shiva and Jollu Navin(all 20 years) were not handcuffed at the time of the incident, police said.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner CV Sajjanar told reporters his men resorted to “retaliatory” firing after two of the accused opened fire at the police personnel after snatching weapons from them and tried to escape.

He said Arif was the first to open fire followed by Chennakeshavulu, even as the police team was attacked with stones and sticks. The police returned fire after initial “restraint” and asking the accused to surrender, he said. The snatched weapons were in “unlocked” position, he added.