Miscarriage of Justice in Legal System

Miscarriage of Justice means failure to attend the desired result in the end for justice.  Miscarriage generally means failure to reach a goal. When we practice law this word is used mostly in the context of civil and criminal appeal cases where an appeal from lower court is accepted if a miscarriage of justice has occurred to protect the greater interest of the public confidence in judiciary. Miscarriage of justice is also a difficult concept as it is that which is not justice according to the law. Even though it is a miscarriage of justice it will be done procedurally. Miscarriage of justice is an issue which is always discussed legally or politically. In India instances of miscarriage of justice happen and there are many such cases and some arise because of negligence by police in the investigation and some due to fabrication of evidence. Since the increase in terrorism there has been increase in number of cases where miscarriage of justice has happened. Using illegal methods in dealing with terrorists has allowed police to take liberties with relation to law to deal with terrorism. Even though one can be ruthless under the law while dealing with the terrorist they cannot go beyond law and order as no one can use illegal methods while investigating a terrorist.  Since the acts of terrorism are committed by Jihadis on India many Indian Muslims have been the victims of wrongful investigation and such acts of police has brought in hatred in the heart of Muslims against the police. These illegal methods that police use has led to more and more terrorism activities in the country as it has become the vicious circle interrelating to each other. One of the miscarriage of justice case was in Lajpat Nagar Market explosion that occurred in New Delhi in 1996 where the trial court had awarded death penalty to 2 Muslim convicts where later they were acquitted by Division Bench of Delhi which comprised of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice G P Mittal. In this case if the court had not noticed the miscarriage of justice by police then these persons would have been given death penalty.  Government of India had set up National Investigation Agency post 26/11 terrorist attack that occurred in Mumbai to check and improve the quality of investigation even then many undetected cases where miscarriage of justice are occurring has been increasing.

People think that miscarriages of justice is very rare and exceptional but it happens every single day which is a mundane feature of criminal justice system. In one of the cases in United Kingdom in 2012, Hallam who was an 18 years old boy and he was convicted for death of trainee chef Essyas Kassahun but later judges were informed that it was a serious miscarriage of justice for Hallam and so conviction was quashed in 2012. When miscarriage of justice happen the innocent people will continue to spend time in prison. We need to change laws which help legal individuals who wrongfully convict innocent persons.

When innocent defendants are found guilty in criminal matters or when they are compelled to plead guilty to crimes which they had not committed result in wrongful convictions. Words like actual and factual innocence is used to refer to people who have not committed crime in American law. In U.S. legal system also there are a number of such cases and thus raises doubts as to the accuracy of the criminal justice system.  Many wrongfully accused people or imprisoned persons who did not commit the crime suffer from different kinds of severe psychological problems and post-traumatic stress disorder which is not present in guilty prisoners and it also complicates the non-guilty person to return back to his/her normal life after release. For those persons who have been victimised under criminal matters do not even get financial compensation by the states but they are just acquitted. Such persons cannot automatically sue and recover money damages from police. One of the famous sociologist Michael Radelet and Philosopher Hugo Adam Bedau published a survey stating that nearly 350 innocent people were convicted for crimes which they did not commit in 20th century and 23 we executed. One of the famous cases of Unites States which was in 1989, was where an innocent man, Gary Dotson was charged with rape in Illinois when a teenage girl make up a rape story to cover her consensual sex with her boyfriend. Later she repudiated the story but judge did not believe her then with the interference of journalist and lawyer, a DNA test was made on the semen from the rape kit and Dotson was freed who was vindicated and thus this case became a template for many police rape investigations in USA. The total number of person who are convicted wrongly cannot be known as there is no agency which keeps track of such cases and no books also describe in detail about these cases where miscarriage of justice took place. Many cases of such miscarriage of justice occurs when there is some level of negligence by criminal justice officers or even defence lawyers. Even if there is erroneous forensic evidence and misconduct that takes place in it lead to wrongfully convicting an innocent person. If forensic laboratories are substandard the most reliable methods can give wrong results. Sometimes false confessions are made by the people just to avoid the psychological pressure that occur while interrogation by police and this also leads to miscarriage of justice. Police also pay informants who provide information about the suspects which can be money, or favours to family and thus these informants lie to get what they want and so there will be miscarriage of justice.  Since many defendants are poor and they rely on government aid lawyers this makes it difficult for the defendants to get adequate defense as they do not pay the lawyers and lawyers have substandard lawyering which cause for miscarriage of justice. In legal system we can never eradicate the miscarriages of justices but in fact that will always prevail in any legal system which lead to wasting of lifetime.


  1. Shocking Case of Miscarriage of Justice http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1073
  2. When innocent men go to jail: miscarriages of justice in Britain http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11075284/When-innocent-men-go-to-jail-miscarriages-of-justice-in-Britain.html
  3. Wrongful Convictions http://criminal-justice.iresearchnet.com/system/wrongful-convictions/

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