Review Rape Justice

  • Atul Sobti
  • India
  • Dec 12, 2014

Another Nirbhaya…but thankfully this brave girl has lived. We promised to change the world…at least our laws and our security system…for Nirbhaya. We have been found wanting….again. Something is rotten in this State of India. Have we just made the police the fall guys after each tragedy? Even the judiciary often acts more as a police fault-finder than as a partner in justice. It’s perhaps time to hold the judicial system to account...and maybe question its very basis. What is this ‘due process’ of law that allows even rapists and murderers to be given all the latitude and bail and even escape, for the flimsiest of reasons? Is due process linked to the hiring of ‘slick’ lawyers? Are the accused the only ones with human rights? What about the unfortunate victims…and their families? What does justice delivered after many years mean to a person who has been raped or whose family member has been murdered? What deterrence is this for any potential rapist or murderer, or someone who has already committed these heinous crimes? Kiran Bedi has put this in context very succinctly: “Our criminal justice system is accused-centric’ not ‘victim-sensitive’

Why can’t judges (or a District Commissioner outside of major cities) directly take responsibility of all rape cases, integrally with the police, to ensure that a verdict is delivered within a week – rather than waiting and then finding lacunae in the evidence? There should be no adjournments, no ‘tareek pe tareek’. Let interrogation, and confession, of a rapist take place in front of a judge – and be taken as ‘legal’ evidence. Let the judges ‘handle’ the slick lawyers who ‘expertly’ find ‘loopholes’ for even the guiltiest of clients. It’s ironical that a judge, with all his/her qualification, experience, acumen and sensitivity, has to sometimes ‘rule’ wrongly, despite probably ‘knowing’ otherwise. Surely the foundation of the rule of law was that it should be a saviour for innocent citizens; it clearly was not meant to be twisted to perversely act as a saviour for the guilty. A judge as jury would be the most forceful deterrence.  And surely women, half of society, deserve at least this much, for helping rid them of a most heinous crime that is perpetrated only on them. Yes, the ‘volume’ of cases may be high to start with, but surely the police and judges (and DCs) can together make it half very fast…and if harsh sentences are given within days, we could  see a miraculous reduction in rape cases. Similarly, let the jails be filled to capacity to start with…it would be a ‘happy’ situation, though hopefully short-lived.

The very basis of Justice today, of accepting that some guilty could go free as long as no innocent is punished, may need to be questioned (specially with regard to rape cases). The chances are that almost every rapist and murderer that has been given bail or found ‘innocent’ and set free, has been emboldened to ‘strike’ again. Maybe, as a most rare of rare cases, rape justice should mean ‘guilty (if charged by a woman and the man not able to prove immediate innocence) till proven innocent’. 

Outside of the police and judicial system, the accountability should be clear. Every (yes, every) rape case would need to be reviewed by the DC of a district, and a report prepared every week. The CM of every State would need to address the Press on this every month, along with the (State) Home Minister.


It’s difficult to say this, but please do not allow the media to compel you to take ‘action’ (like, an instant thoughtless ban). It would also be good if the police were less ‘media savvy’, especially with photo-ops with criminals and ‘bites’ on ‘progress’ that would either negatively impact/compromise the case. The price we paid for the 26/11 ‘coverage’ should never be forgotten. 

Our women are crying out.
In Gurgaon, on an average:
there are 20 cases of eve teasing reported every day;
there are 3 cases of domestic violence reported every day (yes, women are beginning to speak up against criminal family members).
And these are only the reported cases.
We surely hear of this every day, but we seem not to listen. It’s time we woke up.


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