PEOPLE LOSING FAITH IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

TELANGANA ENCOUNTER MODEL RAISES MANY QUESTIONS

 

By Arun Srivastava

 

All the four accused in the case of rape-and-murder of a 25-year-old veterinarian were killed by police in an encounter last Friday morning. While the killing of the criminals in encounter was celebrated and the policemen received applauds across the country from the frustrated and desperate urban middle class, a significant segment of the people expressed apprehension at the police design which according to them was nothing but extra-judicial executions in character and nature.

 

If police is to be believed the encounter took place just around break of dawn when the unarmed accused, lorry workers aged between 20 and 24, were taken to the scene of the crime for a reconstruction of events as part of the investigation. The police while justifying its action said that the accused snatched weapons from police, fired on it and tried to escape. The police fired in retaliation in which the four accused died.

 

The four men were arrested on November 29 for raping and killing the woman and burning her body. The incident obviously led to pouring of widespread outrage and indictment and also drew a parallel to the horrors of the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder of a physiotherapy intern in Delhi. Though the Supreme Court had awarded death penalty to the perpetrators of the crime, even after seven years of the verdict they are yet to be hanged.

 

No doubt the people were already feeling dejected and letdown by the police, politicians and the judiciary. The mercy petition from them is still pending with the President of India.  The killing of the four accused has served as the balm to the hurt sentiments of the people. Even the father and the sister of the victim expressed happiness and thanked the Telangana government and police.  This was instant reaction.  

 

Like Delhi girl who was named Nirbhaya the Hyderabad doctor is nicknamed as Disha. Nirbhaya’s parents also expressed satisfaction and the hope that their daughter’s culprits would be hanged soon and justice would be theirs. Disha’s parents are gratified that they would not have to wait for seven years for justice. The celebratory scenes at the ‘encounter’ site and people congratulating the police and shouting slogans such as “Telangana Police zindabad” should sound warning bells for the police and political establishment of the country. Their long suppressed feeling of getting justice got exposed yesterday but it would prove to be of short duration. The same people who distributed sweets yesterday would not hesitate to throw stones on the police and politicians.

 

Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan, might have been correct in advocating lynching of rapists in Parliament, but her observation simply underlines her failure to have a say in the governance and administration.  Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor said extra-judicial killings were not acceptable. He is right. But will he clarify that for how more time and period this will continue?

 

The encounter is an attempt by authorities to distract people from the government’s failures to safeguard women’s rights. This is yet another tactical ploy to blunt criminal justice system. According to Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, the killing of the four men is not justice but a “ploy” to shut down demands for accountability from the police, judiciary, governments, and justice and dignity for women.

 

No doubt she is right. But will she clarify what they have done to force the government to punish the police in such cases. Police has not been taking action against these criminals and on their part these people were creating havoc with the blessings of the police. In Delhi case the rapists were awarded hanging. But why so far the order has not been executed? On one or other alibi they have been enjoying their lives and freedom. The people from judiciary have made mockery of the system. She described the incident as the admittance of utter incompetence and failure of criminality on the part of the entire political and police system and accused Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao of deflecting the “whole issue”.

 

The fact of the matter is rape has been institutionalised in recent years. With woman turning into commodity, she has lost ethical value and relevance.  What has been matter of concern is it has acquired enormous character precisely after NDA government coming to power and Modi becoming the prime minister. The bare fact remains that criminals joined his party and were being used against anti saffron forces and parties.  During the last six years, they had free run. This in fact is corroborated by the government statistics.

 

The government records reveal that 92 rapes have been taking place every day since 2017. More than 32,500 cases of rape were registered with the police in 2017. Indian courts disposed of only about 18,300 cases related to rape that year, leaving more than 127,800 cases pending at the end of 2017.nstances of brutal rape and violence against the women who report it have given India the dismal reputation of being one of the worst places in the world to be female. The incident in Unnao took place a week after the veterinarian was abducted by four men in Hyderabad.

 

India has been in the international spotlight over the handling of sexual assaults by the authorities. Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous, is notorious for its poor record regarding crimes against women, with more than 4,200 cases of rape – the highest number in the country – reported there in 2017. Earlier this year, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh was widely criticised for protecting a party legislator charged with raping a 19-year-old woman in the same Unnao town.

 

Police claims the killing of the four rapists as encounter. It is a common knowledge that hero worshipping is liked by the Indians and a stern action against criminals boosts the TRP of the government and especially its police. Significantly encounters take place only after criminals attack the police and this time it was the same.No details were immediately available about how many police officers had escorted the four accused and whether they were handcuffed or bound together as is usually the case.

 

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police every day. But the actual number of attacks is far higher, with a government survey finding that 99.1% of sexual violence cases go unreported, often due to pressure from family members.

 

Crime is a threat to freedom and democracy. Reduction in rate of crime is essential for stability, security and development of the country. However it cannot be achieved without an effective Criminal Justice System.  Undeniably the present CJS has failed to deliver and is likely to collapse if remedial steps are not taken immediately.

 

The vested interest are out to turn it dysfunctional and useless. There are four essential prerequisites to generate faith in CJS: efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and fairness. Besides CJS has four stages which are: registration of the case; investigation of the case; trial of the case; rehabilitation and corrective measures. Criminal Justice System has failed largely due to poor investigation, poor prosecution and lack of a system to assess evidences. Those who are in know of the police operations claim that almost all the criminals are good friends of the police and in most of the cases operations are planned with due consultation and even participation of the policemen.

 

Common people want efficiency, accountability and zero tolerance against corruption. But the question emerges, how can this be achieved? The reforms will include: criminal law reforms, both in substantive as well as procedural laws; institutional reforms of police, prosecution, courts and prisons, etc; qualitative improvement of people and material involved in Criminal Justice System. (IPA Service)

 

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