Watered Down Justice - Eastern Mirror
Monday, February 06, 2023

Watered Down Justice

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jan 29, 2020 10:40 pm

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital, triggering a massive outpouring of public anger, and came to be known as “Nirbhaya” or fearless. In January 2020 the supreme court of India issued death warrant against the 4 individuals convicted of the crime. Although the death warrant was issued on 7th January the date for the punishment had already been shifted once to 1st February with another delay forthcoming due topre-existing mechanisms for the grant of mercy petitions. One of the four convicts in the case to be hanged on 1st of February has challenged his execution using the last legal resort in the Supreme Court known as the curative petition. Akshay Singh, 31, is the third convict to challenge his hanging with the curative petition. This has led to criticism from various sections of the society. Last-minute petitions by the convicts have been widely seen as desperate attempts to stall their hanging. The delay has been heavily criticised by many including the parents of the victim. In light of these developments the government in a petition to the Supreme Court asked for a change in the guideline in the death row cases so that convicts cannot keep delaying the sentences by exploiting legal options.

This type of dissatisfaction with the long and time consuming of judgement is not new in the context of the Indian judiciary. In the contemporary times we have seen various cases which have frustrated the Indian population. Various cases have forced the common public to take to the streets to demand justice from the judiciary. Hence the question that confronts us today is in relation to the efficacy of the judicial systems and is a reform necessary. Before delving into the question of reforms it needs to be mentioned that reforms are a constant process and expecting overnight changes is improbable but in the present context the society wants to see a sincere effort being made to reform the judicial process. Moreover it also has to be kept in mind that while delay in the deliverance of justice is problematic it cannot justify impatience.

What may be more important is to review the process involved with the granting of mercy petitions. Firstly, the Indian judicial system should develop a mechanism to differentiate cases or have a separate mechanism to deal with cases of gender related violence as it would enable the judiciary to deal with cases of a wider variety. Secondly, in regards to the mercy petition a particular time frame should be set so that individuals convicted of crimes deserving of the death penalty would be brought to justice in a respectable time frame. Lastly, with the social changes taking place in the contemporary world the various structures tasked with the maintenance of the rule of law in the society need to make their internal workings more transparent and fluid. While we may rest in knowledge that these convicts will eventually be punished. The delay in the judicial process leads to watered down justice.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jan 29, 2020 10:40:05 pm