Court shooting points at failure to protect temples of justice

| SEPTEMBER 25, 2021, 12:21 AM IST

Jailed gangster Jitendra Gogi, was shot dead on Friday inside Delhi's Rohini court by two assailants dressed as lawyers who were later gunned down by policemen. Gogi was one of the most wanted criminals and was arrested by the special cell in April. He was involved in the killing of Haryana-based singer 22-year-old Harshita Dahiya, who was gunned down by assailants in 2017 in Panipat. Gogi also carried a cash reward of Rs 4 lakh in Delhi and Rs 2.5 lakh in Haryana.

The shooting shook the nation, not because a gangster was shot, but for the way he was killed. The killing may have grounded the criminal proceedings against Gogi, but the incident has triggered a more serious debate of security inside the hallowed precincts of India's temples of justice.

This is a fourth such incident at Rohini, and it only goes to show that lessons haven't been learnt. The subject of security at courts hasn't been given a serious thought, and the justice delivery system continues to remain vulnerable. A gangster has been shot down with assailants finding an easy way inside the courtroom. It could be the judge, or judges, lawyers, or even citizens inside the courtroom. The choice was of the assailants who sneaked inside the courtroom.

Criminals and goons going unchecked into the courtroom exposed a flawed security system. The CCTV surveillance is not enough to secure lives, and the Centre which had argued before the Supreme Court for State controls on security at courts must do a rethink. States may be in a better position to understand area-specific security needs of courts, including manning witnesses and judges, but on a more practical side, the laxity is showing. When it comes to lax security, Goa is no exception. Criminals have given police the slip even when they are being transported to the courts. The prime accused in the sensational Betalbatim gang-rape case who escaped from police custody is a testimony of how casual policing is.

The Gogi killing was a filmy-style encounter that saw gang rivalries settling scores inside the courtroom. With gun culture flourishing in India, courts will remain vulnerable if tighter protocols are not put in place. Revenge-seeking criminals and gangs will turn courtrooms into their personal fiefdoms and battlegrounds.

We live in a world where shootouts, attacks on life, intimidation, blackmail and contract killing are constantly disturbing the peace. For an effective law and order process, security becomes a crucial component. When the system is dealing with hardened criminals, there should be heightened vigilance and police have to be on their guard at all times. Gangsters dressing as lawyers to go on a shooting spree inside court says it all.

There is an immediate need to establish a fool-proof security system otherwise criminals will be at liberty to turn judges and executioners in courtrooms. Our courts will remain vulnerable and under-protected to these attacks.

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