News18» News»Opinion»Death Penalty for Rapists Not Wrong, But Failure to Differentiate Between Suspect & Guilty Means Anarchy
4-MIN READ

Death Penalty for Rapists Not Wrong, But Failure to Differentiate Between Suspect & Guilty Means Anarchy

File photo of policemen guarding the area where the four accused in the rape-and-murder case of a 25-year-old woman veterinarian were shot dead by police in Hyderabad.

File photo of policemen guarding the area where the four accused in the rape-and-murder case of a 25-year-old woman veterinarian were shot dead by police in Hyderabad.

It is not without reason that the law itself doesn’t accept police probe and the statements given to cops by witnesses and suspects as trustworthy and unless the entire evidence are reproduced and accepted by a judge.

While the killing of four suspects in custody and at the hands of Telangana police can no doubt be criticised and condemned for innumerable reasons and no person who is not driven either by ignorance or acute frustration emanating out of our collective helplessness to protect our womenfolk even from the ultimate atrocity of rape and murder, will condone such killings.

To save our society from the result of these actions which are clearly counterproductive to the goals they seek to achieve. It is of vital importance that in these emotionally surcharged times, where rival opinions are out for each other’s blood that some professionals remain focused on the universal ultimate aim of our society to atleast protect our womenfolk from extreme forms of violence without wasting any further time.

This entire emotionally surcharged public outrage vying for the blood of now deceased four suspects is based on the fact that it is these very four suspects who have committed this ghastly crime and no one else.

This fact is derived from another presumption ‘as to why would police name these four out of millions others living in Hyderabad or elsewhere in the country’. Of course police being a neutral investigating agency has no personal axe to grind against them or any other vested interest. The moment anyone removes these presumptions from her or his mind, the entire reaction to this situation would change in a moment.

Any person with a little experience in the field of criminal law practice or anyone who has a brush with police functioning can easily envisage various scenarios why police doesn’t act neutrally during investigations of any kind.

It is not without reason that the law itself doesn’t accept the police investigations and the statements given to the police by witnesses and suspects as trustworthy and unless the entire evidence, including statements, are reproduced and accepted by a Judge they carry no weight in the eyes of law.

I find compelled to remind here that law is not some meaningless notion based on whims and fancies of its authors, rather it is pure science and reasoning which has been developed by the combined wisdom of innumerable generations as best method for going to the bottom of conflicts and crimes.

Even otherwise most of us know a number of reasons why police is not upfront on a number of, if not most, occasions. Innumerable examples are in public domain where police has manipulated investigation to save the high and might and those who have other resources.

Manipulations of investigation to save face in highlighted cases are also not uncommon. In the present case of Telangana, where the state government and the police were firstly under tremendous pressure to instantly arrest the ‘culprits’ and thereafter to get them instantly hanged or shot in public.

In such circumstances, the scope for being tempted to become instant hero in the eyes of public is quite hard to resist. Only political leaders and police officers of impeccable integrity and honesty can be expected to resist this temptation.

Undoubtedly such leadership is rare to find in our polity and police forces today and therefore by celebrating (not just condoning) rather than punishing such brazen acts, we are exposing ourselves to a situation which is just the opposite of what our pious intentions are to forgo all settled principles of rule of law. This obviously is giving a short cut to Politicians, Bureaucracy and Police to cover up all their deficiencies and mistakes of not being able to provide safety and security to women folk instead they can gain instant stardom by gunning down just anyone to satiate the anger and euphoria of people in wake of such ghastly crimes.

There is nothing wrong if our society now desires, harsh punishments on the lines of Islamic Law for such crimes especially against women and children, but we should never short charge our legal procedures to such an extent that we diminish dividing line between a suspect and a guilty.

If we do that, it will lead to a situation where there would be anarchy and in times of anarchy the worst sufferers are the weakest sections of any society and no doubt women, children and the old are the weakest sections of any society.

Lastly, the present applause and clapping for police is no doubt a tight slap on the face of our legal system and all its stake holders, including Judges and Lawyers that public is preferring the Police over Judges for getting justice, call it their ignorance or foolishness but people do have a point our judicial system has failed to live up to their expectation of providing justice, one of the promises of the Preamble of our Constitution.

(Author is a senior advocate and a criminal lawyer. Views expressed are personal)