When we condone, killing of an accused in custody by police in the name of a victim! Is it justice or revenge?…. explores Buddhdev Pandya MBE
Any eye for an eye makes the whole wold blind- Mahatma Gandhi
From Nirbhaya, the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim, to the veterinarian who was gang-raped and killed before her body was burnt in Telangana’s Shamshabad on November 27, 2019 ; all victims of rape has the same story to tell.
It has become futile to describe the brutality or start stating the rate of increase of such incidences in the country. It becomes a flavour of the month for social activists and fills the pages and screen time of the media. People of all ages turn out with placards and candles-light marches to show solidarity; demanding ‘justice’ for the victims. Politicians and senior law officers seasoned with ‘duck and dive’ mastery escape media and when confronted say; ‘We will not spare the culprits and law is taking its own course’.
Then few are caught other abscond or play sick in hospital, which the most from poor background find themselves locked in jail with keys missing with the process of justice for years. More than 32,500 cases of rape were registered with the police in 2017, about 90 a day, according to the most recent government data.
The Indian courts disposed of only about 18,300 cases related to rape that year, leaving more than 127,800 cases pending at the end of 2017. It is not new to hear that victims and their families are threatened or even killed if they refuse to withdraw complain. Police stations are also known to be failing to register complaints and many women feel unsafe to approach them to avoid further exploitation. For the survivor, the ordeal and worst is yet to come from impact of social stigma for the victim as well as the family.
The reason for this, is the political insensitivity that provides a sloppy approach to criminal justice regime; staring from the street policing to crime response and then the prosecution teams. The judiciary is not only ill equipped but also one dares to say corrupt in many senses to facilitate delays and known for bending of justice at a right price. The rich and powerful are allowed to be free of fear of the law. If you criticise judiciary, the political classes immediately rush to their defence knowing that most of these agencies are riddled with both political and pecuniary culture of corruption. It is not only condoned but has political protections form the highest political offices.
This loose power is dangerous in the hands of the police where we know the potential for corruption is rampant. It can be used against one of us for any reasons and we should not be complaisant about it.
This the level of political sensitivity when an official analysis of data shared by the government on Nirbhaya Fund for projects for women safety shows that of the Rs 2,264 crore (63% of the corpus of Rs 3,600 crore) allocated to states and UTs, around 89% of the sanctioned funds was not used. We see no interrogation of any minister or officials in the media, most are busy hyping the emotions of public – thirsty for revenge rather than justice.
A politician- law maker, on the flow of the House wants those arrested by the police to be given to the people on the street to dish out justice. The President of India who is the last in the chain of justice with powers of pardoning or approving a death sentence, proclaimed, “That there should be no mercy for rapists convicted under POCSO Act.” One does not want to sound disrespectful but have expected a ‘decree’ to be issues to the Supreme Court and the Cabinet that the pending cases are cleared first in more reasonable time than worry about the outcomes in the first place.
Then, the accused of rape and burring of the veterinarian held in custody were shot dead by the Police. Police says that it was a case of ‘encounter killings’ as the accused were taken to place of incident for verification, they broke free, snatched guns and threatened the police, so the Police shot them in defence. It was so proficient response that without mounting any inter inquiry the police gave a press conference with detailed explanations!
The fact is that when a group of accused of such gruesome criminality are taken out of jail, they are hand cuffed behand their backs and likely to be secured with a linked chain. The officers are trained to secure their weapons and always a magistrate present at such exercise. It reminds us of the film – Jolly LLBII. However, we may wish to give benefit of doubt to the state police. The killing is hailed as a ‘heroic act’ by many who celebrated across the country. They said, ‘she got justice?’ I wonder?
This is no deterrent to sick mindsets and gives the police an excuse to legitimise taking the law into their own hands. The four accused had not been tried in the court of the law, nor had the opportunity to put their defence before a judge. This is how the pillars of our democracy are being eroded.
This loose power is dangerous in the hands of the police where we know the potential for corruption is rampant. It can be used against one of us for any reasons and we should not be complaisant about it. We have seen in Gujarat and other states increase of such killings and then covered up. The All Mighty says, “the vengeance is mine’ and we must not become the God. We are angry but, the victims want justice in law and protection in society by the state and not illegal murders, in their names.