One more rape and we are back on streets demanding justice. But justice in itself is a very vague term and has different connotation for different individuals. For some, justice is to ensure safety and security in ‘rape capital’, for others it means bringing culprits to the book. But for majority of us today, justice has become analogous to hanging the rapists.
As the chorus for death penalty for rapists grows louder, let’s understand nitty-gritty associated with it. Debate over capital punishment has kept dozens of human-right activists busy for years and continues to do so. They advocate that death penalty should be abolished as it compromises with culprit’s right to live. Well if perpetrator has human rights, even victim had one!! Hence, human right argument won’t cut much ice. The point that I want to drive home is that rape calls upon the highest possible punishment and hence capital punishment is apt solution is our context.
Every rape is a crime against humanity and intrusion into modesty of women. The victim lives with this stigma for life long. Some are never married,isolated from the society forever. Not just the victim, an entire family bears the burnt. A mother whose daughter is raped, a brother who sister is molested, a father whose young daughter is dead; can never lead a normal life. Our society, which victimizes the victim and not culprit, has to share a part of the blame.
Two vital concerns must be addressed before moving any further. Firstly, is our judiciary capable enough to accommodate this paradigm shift? Secondly, will it really serve our purpose? Our judiciary has always been liberal enough to ensure that an innocent is not victimized even at the cost of acquittal of hundreds of culprits.This is exactly why it typically takes us decades to pronounce and execute a death sentence. We check and cross check till we are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that convict is culpable enough. This is justified because death sentence once allotted and executed can’t be blotted.
Every convict has the right to fair trial, but does that mean that if rapists are to be hanged, it should take us 10-15 years and the victim will have to face the trials and subsequent harassment for decades. So before we append the provision for capital punishment, we need to boost our justice delivery mechanism.The motto of awarding capital punishment is to instill fear in the society. But on the contrary, the inordinate delay might further deteriorate the situation and culprits might not fear the judiciary at all.
We need to plug-in inefficiencies first. We should be capable enough to pronounce the final verdict in a stipulated time frame. One possible solution is to update our archaic judiciary system where a case moves from a lower court to high court to the apex court to the President and back to Supreme Court for review. If we can’t cut down this hierarchical chain, at least we can enhance the efficiency at each step so that every case is dealt with in a systematic manner and not in whimsical, random fashion.
Many apprehend that like anti-dowry law, anti-rape law might be misused by some to falsely implicate innocent. The widespread abuse of dowry law is well known to all. Many cases of brides blackmailing their in-laws have been reported from all over the country. Hence while we strengthen the laws, care must be taken to prevent its abuse and filter out false cases.
Now moving on to the most vital question, will it curb the rape cases? Answer to this comes with riders. Provided that justice is not delayed or abused, this would be a landmark achievement for our judiciary. The problem with the judiciary today is that victims have lost trust and culprits have lost fear in judiciary and capital punishment will help instill both. So while death penalty for rapists is completely justified, our judiciary has a lot of catching up to do.
Wake India Now!!
Its NOW or NEVER!!