After the four accused, in the rape and murder case of the veterinarian in Hyderabad, were shot dead by the Hyderabad police, there were some kinds of celebrations across India. People thought that justice was delivered. They started distributing sweets and sang praises for the Telangana police. Interestingly, some news channels also hailed this move and the civil society thus followed the same.
But, we must ask this simple question: Were the people who were shot dead the real culprits? Because, till now it hasn’t been proven. What if they are not guilty? Then who is the actual culprit? What if it’s a staged encounter? Is this justice then?
I, too, started wondering why everyone was so happy with the ‘encounter‘ of the accused. Though that’s a different issue that the majority of the population wasn’t even aware that they were ‘accused’, and not the ‘culprits’!
Still, despite knowing this fact, people celebrated this move as instant justice having been delivered in this case. It’s important to inquire why the general public accepted this as justice and why this made them happy. The reason is that, in such a crime, the punishment is the death penalty.
In India, there is a provision for the death penalty in a gang rape case if the victim/survivor is below 13 years of age. Also, if the gang-raped survivor/victim dies, there’s the death penalty, too.
According to the National Crime Record Bureau data, there has been a rise in the number of rape cases in India, and every year women get killed due to rape, but, in the last three decades, there has been only one execution as a punishment to the perpetrator. Millions of rape cases and only one death penalty. Maybe that’s the reason why people are celebrating?!
It’s almost seven years since the Nirbhaya gangrape case, four of out five culprits (one died in jail and a juvenile was released after three years of imprisonment) are still alive, however, Nirbhaya is long dead. They’ve filed for clemency too. Earlier, their mercy petition was rejected by the Supreme Court.
While I am writing this article there may be a girl or a woman who must be sobbing, because, according to the same NCRB data, every fifteen minutes, on average, one rape case is registered. Those that get media attention are heard in the courts and rest are ignored. The conviction rate in India is 22-24%. It means that 75-80% are struggling for justice to be delivered.
India’s criminal justice system is infamous for the delay in delivering justice. In 2018, the Supreme Court allowed for passive euthanasia. Aruna Shanbaug, spent 42 years in a vegetative state after getting sexually assaulted, passed away in 2015. And, what did the culprit get? Only seven years of imprisonment.
Given this pathetic situation of the justice system in India, we cannot expect rationality from people. And, if the judicial system and civil societies want their citizens to be rational, then, our justice delivery system needs to promptly hear and act on these cases.