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Instant justice versus the rule of law

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on December 13, 2019 with No Comments

The news of all four accused in the rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinary doctor on November 29 having been gunned down by the Hyderabad Police in an encounter on December 6 is shocking and at the same time, scandalous too. The social media was instantaneously flooded with the pictures of the encounter specialist police officer. The electronic media was hyper, the opinion among the Indian political leaders justifiably divided. The commotion that followed in the Indian Parliament was on expected lines. Youth was back to expressing their discontent with the existing hollow laws and call for making the laws more stringent now was going even stronger.

The question – instant justice versus the rule of law remains paramount even a week after the encounter.

The paradox of India is that every issue is politicized. Actions by the government are carried out keeping in view the vote bank. Soon the social media was flooded with number of the sitting parliamentarians who have cases of rape charges registered against them. The citation of 2012, Nirbhaya case was brought back into the narrative and how the family of the victim has been going from pillar to post to get justice, while the convicts enjoy the luxuries of the jail as the cost of the tax payers.  The promptness to close these rape is grossly missing both in the political system and the judiciary. Despite enacting stringer laws, the conviction rate for rapists has fallen at a steep rate over the past 40 years. Out of all the rape trials in India, only one out of four leads to a conviction. The conviction rate for rape cases in India was 44.3 percent in 1973, 37.7 percent in 1983, 26.9 percent in 2009, 26.6 percent in 2010, 26.4 percent in 2011, 24.2% in 2012 and 27.1% in 2013.

The common man in India is sick of the rape cases being reported everyday, and the delay in justice. A majority of the public welcomed the news of the Hyderabad cops gunning down the alleged rapists. Just hours after the shootings, about 2,000 people gathered at the site to celebrate the police action. They chanted “police zindabad” (“hail the police”), distributed sweets and showered flowers on the spot where the 27-year-old vet’s charred body was found last week and where the shooting took place on last Friday morning. These celebrations are indicative of the hatred that the majority has for the system that doesn’t take the cases anywhere. A section of those enjoying the killings also put forth an opinion that if India

can follow triple talaq like Muslim countries, why not shoot rapists in public, like what is done in Saudi Arabia, or have their genitals chewed publicly by trained canines?

Those coming in support of the killings of the rapists need to be reminded that there are doubts emerging over if those shot were actual rapists. The fact remains that public confidence in a highly politicised police force remains low. Was this encounter to show BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh in poor light, where rapes are aplenty and the victim of the Unnao rape case was once again raped by rapists on bail, who then burnt her and she died in a hospital with 90% burns?

The narrative of the Hyderabad encounter is that the four accused were taken to the site of the rape in the early hours of the morning. They managed to snatch two pistols from the policemen, fired and injured two cops, and were shot in retaliation. The encounter, while has given applause to the police officer by a large section of the society, has also raised serious question about their effectiveness. Were the accused not handcuffed? Does it reflect well on the alertness of the cops and the encounter specialist that four unarmed men snatch weapon from two cops and fire at them?

The debate over instant justice versus the rule of law,should have been put to rest after the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde expressed his views. “Justice loses its character if it becomes revenge”. Many Indians like him, do feel the same way, the law should  be allowed to take its own course, however there has to be timeline to deliver the justice. The government ,the police machinery and the judiciary would do good for the Indian judicial system if he can work on the lines “Justice loses its character if it is not timely.”


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