Headline : Retributive justice Editorial 6th Dec’19 TheHindu
Outcry for women’s safety after Hyderabad incident:
- The heinous rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad in late November shook the collective conscience of India.
- It resulted in an outcry for justice for the victim and outrage over the persisting lack of safety for women in public spaces.
Creates societal pressure on justice system for quick justice:
- Such societal pressure for justice invariably weighs upon legal institutions, as the police are required to find the culprits immediately and the judiciary to complete the legal process without undue delay.
But rule of law and procedure must continue to be upheld:
- But these institutions must uphold the rule of law and procedure even in such circumstances.
The ‘encounter’ of the accused was celebrated:
- The killing of the four accused of the rape and murder of the veterinary doctor by the Hyderabad police was celebrated by people in Hyderabad and across India.
Shows anger against gruesome crimes as well as justice system:
- The jubilation over the killings by the police stems from the public anger and anguish over the burgeoning crimes against women.
- There is a perception that the legal institutions are ill-equipped to deal with such crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
However, the encounter raises questions:
- The police claim that they killed the accused in self-defence does not sound fully convincing, and raises disturbing questions.
The encounter must be probed:
- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has deputed a fact-finding team to Hyderabad to probe the incident.
- The guidelines set by the Supreme Court to deal with such events, including the need for an independent investigation, must be strictly observed.
Some improvements in justice system from earlier times for quick justice in gruesome cases:
- There has been greater awareness and improvement in both the policing and judicial process following the ‘Nirbhaya’ case in December 2012 in New Delhi.
- The Telangana government had, in this case as well, issued orders for setting up a fast-track court to try the four accused.
- If the Hyderabad police had followed the successful prosecution similar to the Delhi case, this case could have also brought closure to the case in a time-bound manner.
Much more needs to be done:
- However, much more needs to done in terms of registration and charge-sheeting of sexual crimes by police and addressing the pendency in court of such cases.
- Existing laws on sexual crimes and punishment need better application.
But severe retribution cannot be justice:
- In any case, recourse to brutal retribution as in the case of present ‘encounter’ is no solution.
- On the contrary, the political sanction to deliver such swift retribution would only be a disincentive for the police to follow due process. It may even deter them from pursuing the course of justice.
- Far from ensuring justice to the victims, bending the law in such cases would only undermine people’s faith in the criminal justice system.
- Justice in any civilised society is not just about retribution, but also about deterrence, and in less serious crimes, rehabilitation of the offenders.
GS Paper II: Polity