Nirbhaya gets justice at last

It is a little over five and a half years that a 22-year paramedic student who has come to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ was brutally gang-raped by a group of fiends in capital Delhi.  She died in a Singapore hospital a few days later. Our judicial process is such that it has taken the ‘due process of law’ such a long time for the apex court of the land to confirm the death sentence passed on the guilty. One of the rapists who was a minor at the time escaped with three years’ confinement in a correctional home. It is a moot question whether a ‘minor’ who is capable of committing rape should at all be treated as a minor. Nirbhaya’s death led to the setting up of the Justice Verma Commission which recommended amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The sections relating to rape were made more stringent. Eventually, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was passed.
It may be argued that neither the harsher penal provisions in the criminal law nor the passing of the POCSO Act has stopped rape and sexual molestation of children. True. But civil society has to ensure that perpetrators of such heinous crimes pay for their crime with their lives and are denied the opportunity of committing the same offence twice. Rapists and murderers can hardly be ‘reformed’ by putting them in correctional homes. Cases of both murder and rape are on the rise and there may be many reasons for this – from economic, social and political to purely psychological. Social scientists will address themselves to the task of identifying the causes and suggest measures of dealing with them.
But society as an organic body has to protect itself from perverts who suffer from no moral compunction for inflicting grievous injuries to fellow human beings to satisfy their lust or greed. Death sentence for rapists has become all the more necessary now because men in power and authority are found to be defending murderers – directly or indirectly. He who commits a rape or murder should know that if he is caught he will have to hang because society considers him beyond ‘correction’. Nirbhaya had fought valiantly against her assailants despite being very much outnumbered. She died and her companion was grievously injured. He will carry the traumatic memory of that night all his life. Her death has not gone entirely in vain because her death awakened social conscience to the need for enacting stringent laws against rapists.

Tuesday, 10 July, 2018