Delayed may be but justice prevails

By Vijay Badhwar

Justice prevailed. Finally, after seven long years.

Four men found guilty of rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapist intern, Jyoti Singh, popularly known as Nirbhaya (fearless), were hanged early morning at 5.30 am on March 20 in Tihar Gaol in Delhi bringing to conclusion a seven-year-long trial. They were: Akshay Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vijay Sharma and Mukesh Singh. Their bodies were left hanging for 30 minutes to ensure that they had received their due punishment.

Nirbhaya was travelling in a public bus with a friend on December 16, 2012, when six people, including a juvenile, brutally raped and mutilated her. Her condition was very serious and for some time she was shifted to Singapore for treatment. But she died 13 days later on December 29. The juvenile was kept in a correctional home for three years and released. The sixth accused, Ram Singh, committed suicide in jail in 2015.

There   was unprecedented public outcry at the bestiality of the accused. There were public marches and protests to demand the toughest justice for the accused. There was widespread outrage against virtually non-existent measures towards safety of women.

The accused were found guilty and death sentences awarded against them. But then began pleas for clemency – to the Indian President, Delhi Lt Governor and the Chief Minister. One of the convict lawyers, A P Singh, filed petitions non-stop and thumped his chest victoriously when the death sentences were revoked three times. He deliberately pleaded for individual cases to buy time, sometimes for the convict being a juvenile at the time of crime, at others he filed to be heard for use of violence in jail against the convict.

It frustrated Nirbhaya’s mother, Asha Devi, no bounds. She clamoured for justice for her daughter and when the law provided avenues for delays to the exploited by A P Singh, she found it hard to accept. She found closure with the hangings: “It may have taken time but justice was finally delivered,” she said.

In another rape case in Hyderabad a few months ago, justice was delivered rather quickly with four men accused of rape and murder of a young veterinary doctor killed in a police encounter. The doctor had parked her scooter near a mall watched by four lorry drivers. Allegedly, they deflated her scooter tyre and offered to help when she returned at 9.30 pm. But she was taken to nearby bushes and raped, then smothered and taken in the lorry to dump the body which they burnt.

Aware of the Nirbhaya case, public demanded speedy justice.

Telangana police built the story from CCTV cameras and arrested the accused who, according to them, admitted to the crime. They were taken to the crime scene nine days later to reconstruct the crime scene, and according to them, they tried to snatch their weapons and all four were killed.

Although some politicians and the moral brigade cried foul at the extrajudicial execution, public at large gathered at the scene and distributed sweets to the police for their quick response that, in their opinion, would deter future criminals.

Another notorious case that was pure arrogance and blatant high-handedness of a UP politician, known as Unnao rape case, was brought to conclusion with the accused MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar found guilty for rape and murder and handed a ten-year sentence by a Special Court.

Such powerful people, especially in village environments, considered it their prerogative to exploit the vulnerabilities of the simple rural folk to demand unchallenged sexual favours from them. It is high time the authorities took note of their atrocities and paralleled them with the rest of the society.

The Hyderabad case is an example of people expectations that bemoan the loss of public faith in the criminal justice system and celebrate the speedy delivery notwithstanding its inherent weakness to abuse. That women feel safe in all environments they wish to be in is a paramount criterion in a civilised society.







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