By K.B. Ganapathy, Editor-in-Chief
The day of new dawn in India’s judiciary and the legal system was 5.5.2017. The Supreme Court confirmed death sentence for four rapists in 2012 Delhi rape case. There were actually six rapists but one of the convicts, Ram Singh committed suicide in Tihar Jail while the other was a minor. This ‘minor’ who committed the crime of a ‘major’ was tried in a Juvenile Court and served time in a remand home.
An NGO is entrusted with his after-care and he is working as a cook in a hotel incognito. But he must be watched. The ‘basic instinct’ will possess him as he grows and with the kind of violent sexual perversion he exhibited in the case of that unfortunate 23-year-old physiotherapist intern, Nirbhaya, he is a potential danger to society. You are warned.
Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence in this case, it might be a good idea to observe 5th May every year as the ‘Women’s Safety Day’ like ‘AIDS Awareness Day’. It will be an annual warning to all the potential rapists and those who have a propensity to molest or misbehave with women.
We must remember that but for the TV and Press media this rape too would have passed into the dustbin of criminal history of our country; the case ending with a delay of 10 or 15 years, the accused released on bail and finally either acquitted or the criminals getting away with minor punishment. So the attention and action.
Pressure was put on the Police by the public to catch the culprits. There were public protests of candle light march on the streets of Delhi and also in other cities throughout the country. It became a national shame as much as an issue and our MPs and Ministers were forced to take note of the most heinous and diabolical crime.
As a result, the law relating to juvenile justice was revised. Now the minors in the age group of 16-18 can go on trial under the regular law, the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Rape was also brought under the crime punishable with the most severe of the severest punishment — death. With the amendment to the law, rape was also made a non-bailable offence.
Another progressive development that has come out of this case was the establishment of 400 Fast Track Courts all over the country to try these cases. A unique fund called ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ with Rs. 1,000 crore was set up to take care of the rape victims and related matters. A complaint is heard that no plan is worked out to utilise this Fund so far. But let us hope, it will under Modi.
Another positive result of this case was establishment of over 3,000 Women Police Stations all over the country and more may be needed considering the prejudice seen in the general Police Stations against women complainants, specially in sex-related cases.
One issue that seemed to overshadow the question of punishment in the case of a rape convict is about awarding death sentence. Following Nirbhaya’s rape and later her death, the nation’s conscience was seered and the government appointed a Commission under former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma to suggest strong laws to deal with sexual offences. Sadly, it was not in favour of death penalty for offences of sexual assault of this kind. Thanks to NGOs, apparently their daughters were never raped and they never suffered the kind of pain and trauma a rape victim and her parents suffer. These NGOs and even the Human Rights Commission protested and said No to death punishment. Could be that Verma Commission was influenced by these sham sentiments of humanism. These are the ones who are kind even to the terrorists. Mercifully for the country, Supreme Court did not think so.