Following the incident of the Hyderabad shooting, the call for swift capital punishment is growing louder while one Member of Parliament is advocating for the lynching of the rape accused.
Many even call the process of reformation a waste of “tax payers’ money”, but do such severe punishments guarantee that such horrifying cases of rape will not occur again?
Fix time frame for mercy appeals
While the public is unhappy with the legal system because they can see cases linger on in the courts for years, Supreme Court lawyer Rekha Aggarwal believes, “This isn’t the case in reality. Even in Nirbhaya case, the trial got over in a record time of nine months. So, whatever delay that took place was afterwards when the matter went to the Supreme Court. Under our constitution, every Indian has the right to appeal twice against any verdict that is passed against him or her. Post this, one can file a review petition, a curative petition and after that a mercy appeal. So, the dissatisfaction of Nirbhaya case taking seven years is due to legal procedures, a safety provided by the constitution to every individual.” Aggarwal stresses on the right for every accused to be proved innocent and the police to prove him guilty.
Justice can’t be denied to the accused. Aggarwal says, “People must have faith in the judicial system but the need of the hour is to speed things up. There should be a time frame to decide on mercy appeals particularly in heinous crimes and there should be more courts, more judges, labs for forensic evidence and a geared up infrastructure.” She suggests that the public should be given a progress report on cases with dedicated space in newspapers.
Need more judges and reformative measures
Social activist Shabnam Hashmi believes that the rule of law needs to be followed, and is completely against capital punishment, saying, “Even if the four accused shot in Hyderabad were the real culprits, there is a rule of law. Instead of fighting for fast track courts and ensuring justice is given, resorting to such means is a step towards becoming a Talibanised Afghanistan.”
The reason why justice is taking time is because we don’t have enough judges and courts, says Hashmi, adding “So, the solution is not killing people, but the state needs to provide more judges and courts. Also, the present atmosphere is such that violence has become a norm which is fueling this anger. Over the last few years, the society has become communalised and is supporting violence.”
Talking about the steps necessary to combat this violent streak, so prominent today, Hashmi says, “So, the first step is to get rid of the government which is not going to be easy and unfortunately, they have now invaded every space. We also need to start from home where children are taught violence. Look at the films, television serials, the media and even the games are violent. It will probably take few decades before going back to Gandhi’s India which believed in non-violence.”
Supporting the call for reformation is Anju Mangla, the first female Police Superintendent of Tihar Men’s Jail, saying, “There is a need to focus on reformation rather than taking drastic measures. If the act is gruesome then send the convicts to a remote island where they will have no contact with the world but they should live to realise what crime they have committed. No one is born a criminal. They were either not given the needed values or the society had its own role to play, so reformation gives time to change their mindset through holistic grooming.”
While fast track courts are an absolute necessity, what is important is to acknowledge that these perpetrators are not outcasts of society but people like us, believes Apeksha Priyadarshini, PhD Cinema Studies, JNU. “As long as we keep treating instances of sexual violence was exceptions, the problem won’t get resolved. The need of the hour is to break through rape culture, that is perpetuated through popular media, through violence like trolling, through the discrimination that women face every day in the society which goes unquestioned. Until we raise these questions, we will keep witnessing such horrendous crimes,” says the 27-year-old.
In favour of capital punishment
Former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar also says the due process of law needs to be followed. “If somebody resorts to killing the accused of any crime and it is found to be fake, they need to pay a price for it. However, if capital punishment is given in a case of rape with murder, I endorse it. After all, there should be deterrence,” says Kumar, who feels the need to improve the procedural judicial system. “The adjournments at a drop of a hat should be stopped. The time period taken by the court needs to be reduced and similarly, the appellate component of the trial can be disposed of far more quickly than it is done now,” he concludes.
The number of courts and judges need to be increased.
Increase in the number of labs for examination of forensic evidence.
The adjournments at a drop of a hat should be stopped.
Children need to be given a holistic upbringing.