The fallout from the recent decision of the High Court of Australia in Patel v The Queen has highlighted the fact that “justice” is a construct of perception and certainly in legal terms is not an absolute.
Dr. Patel was granted bail after the High Court granted him special leave, set aside the order of the Queensland Court of Appeal, quashed his convictions and ordered that a new trial be had.
Following the announcement in the media of Dr. Patel’s successful appeal families of the “victims” of Dr. Patel and other interested parties voiced their concern that an injustice had been done. And they were right – a grave injustice had been perpetrated and we know that because the judgment of the High Court described the injustice that had been done to Dr. Patel. That of course is not the injustice of which the interested parties were speaking.
The only guarantee in criminal litigation is that one party will be disappointed at the conclusion of any trial – either the accused or the complainant/complainant’s family.
The use of words like victim before a finding of fact is made by the jury seriously skews the perception of the public when viewing a matter. Simply because a person is charged with an offence does not mean that they have in fact committed the offence as charged, or at all. History is littered with vexatious claims leveled against every day Australians for a myriad of reasons. So when someone is acquitted of an offence has justice been served or has there been an injustice? It depends on how you look at it.