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The Nirbhaya case of 2012 took what might be a final turn on Tuesday. The Supreme Court has dismissed the curative petitions filed by two of the convicts, which could be the last port of call in the legal realm for them before their execution is carried out, though the Mercy Plea before the President could still come in the way. As per standards of Indian judiciary, seven years in the progression of a case is by itself a fast-paced progress, as several cases remain undecided for decades. The final word from the five-member apex court bench was that there was no merit in the present plea to avoid capital punishment.
Capital punishment is rarest of the rare awards from courts and is delivered only in extreme cases. Admittedly, the Nirbhaya case was one, considering the cruelty with which a hapless paramedic was pounced upon in a running bus – to which she and her male friend were called in obviously with mischievous intent – and gang-raped in the most heinous manner, resulting in her death a few days later at a hospital. The incident shocked the nation and led to an unprecedented outrage.
The incident had led to massive public outcry and a new law against rape and cruelty to women had been brought forward. Feelings were that the law would help to curb such heinous acts against women, but the Supreme Court itself noted some days ago that the law did not prove to be of much help, considering the way such cases continued to take place. This meant, the job remains unfinished and more ways and means need to be found to ensure safety for women in public places.
It must be stressed in this context that if a case like this continues even after eight years then something is seriously wrong with the judicial system in this country itself. Justice delayed is justice denied. Also, cases dragging for long years meant additional exertion on the part of the judiciary, thereby wasting its precious time. A straight case often turns out to be not so, caught as it is in the labyrinth of arguments, submissions, and counter-arguments. This is the luxury that a developing nation where multitudes live with bare minimum income cannot afford. The more the cases carry on, the more the expenses for the complainants and the pressure on the judicial system.
Judges must be freed from cases in the normal course to attend to new cases. Instead, the tendency often is to give a long rope to one and all to try and divert the course of justice by picking loopholes. This has to end!