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Advocate High Court of Kerala

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Ding Zui B.VINOD

The practice of hiring impostors or body doubles to stand trial and receive punishment in one’s place is a relatively common practice among China’s wealthy elite, There is even a term for it: ding zui. Ding means “substitute,” and zui means “crime”; in other words, the term translates as “substitute criminal”.

Centuries before, westerners have noted the practice of replacement of convicts in   China’s legal system. Ernest Alabaster, a scholar of Chinese criminal law, wrote in 1899 that courts “permitted” the real offenders to hire substitutes, and that such things “frequently happen, have for long happened, and—notwithstanding Imperial decrees to the contrary—will, under the system, always happen.” Incredibly, substitutes could be hired even for executions.

Usually lower class men and women are hired to pay for the crimes of the Chinese wealthy elite. In return, the body doubles get financial security for themselves or their families which they can only dream of. It is said that the rich people who practice Ding zui have close ties with the government and hence the practice is not investigated properly.

In ding zui there is a quit pro quo. But we certainly can take pride in an improved version of the ding zui the DING- DONG ZUI whereby the cops would take the responsibility of substituting an innocent unsuspecting individual for an offender ether due to incompetence or due to avariciousness to complete an investigation and get the laurels or due to corruption or to please their political masters. In most of the politically motivated heinous crimes politicians and not the police find the accused. Gangsters   end up being charged in all cases irrespective of the fact they have participated in any particular crime or not. These pressures coupled with the system of assessing the police that are vogue almost ensures that a substitute criminal end in conviction.

In some part of the country it is said that the political parties decide in advance, as against whom all, the next FIR is to be laid in the event of a murder of any one of their clan.    FIS consistent with the false story are to be filed in different police stations almost simultaneously[1]. FIR being an important instrument in testing the veracity of the prosecution story the police seldom takes up the responsibility of denuding it from the truth. Thereby actual criminals get substituted without any benefit.

Assessing a police officer for the number of cases investigated and charged and convicted and not on the reduction of crime rate where he is policing, as well as assessing a Magistrate on the conviction percentage is an imperialistic relic to have most number of subjects of the subjugated state behind the bars. Policing is more about preventing crime. Magistrates must be assessed on the percentage of judgments reversed by the higher courts. These systemic disorders if, corrected can also help reduce dockets at courts of appellate and revisional jurisdictions apart from increasing faith in judicial system.


In murder, smuggling, large finds of contraband or forest produce, cases junior- inexperienced detecting officer, who registers the crime, gets hardly 12 hours to complete investigations before the senior inspectors takes over investigation. Similar is the case with all other grave crimes. The principal offender always conceals himself behind the curtains and operates through accomplices or sometimes through victims. He may get a house or property on lease without signing an agreement paying exorbitant rent. When caught the land lord is penalized. The SI is under pressure of ambitions to complete the investigation,  no matter what the truth is, he requires only an offender and evidence to sufficient to convict the offender. Smuggling and counterfeit currency are other   crimes   wherein the detectives do not bother to investigate the real mind behind the crime and puts the entire blame on the hands that used to commit the crime. Thereby the actual criminals escape on account of ding-dong zui.

[1] Occurrence of crime can be reported to the place where the offence is committed. Place at which the victim is taken for first aid and   ultimately the place where the victim is pronounced dead. It is in the clan’s interest that the victim should bleed to death.

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