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Friday, March 14, 2014

Still a long way to the gallows!

The decision of the Delhi High Court upholding the death sentence imposed by the lower court against the convicts of the infamous Nirbhaya rape and murder case of December 2012 was on expected lines. After all the four butchers deserve no mercy and if at all there was any punishment higher than the death penalty it would have also met the cause. Yet there is still a long way to the gallows, an appeal in the apex court followed by a mercy petition to the President is apparently on the cards. Absolutely legal delaying tactics, yet I am convinced that ultimately the perpetrators of the heinous crime would indeed pay back by hanging.

Despite the huge national outcry that followed the ghastly crime and the awarding of the death penalty, rape is not yet off from the daily headlines. Perhaps the reality that the wheels of justice indeed grind slowly in this nation of ours gives enough hope and encouragement to criminals of all hues and shades to carry on with their activities unabated. After all justice is yet to be finally dispensed to the murderers of an ex prime minister of the country and it often appears that perhaps by a quirk of fate they may even escape the noose that they so rightfully deserve.

And therefore crime continues unabated. The retribution for the crime is available only through the judicial system of the country that is definitely fair yet agonizingly slow. And that leads a common citizen to wonder, often at times when he feels threatened, that it may indeed be better for the nation to follow the punishment systems of the middle-east or a developed and almost crime free nation like Singapore where swift and deterrent punishment has almost eliminated crime and ensured adherence to rules.   

And justice delayed is actually justice denied. Even within the bureaucratic machinery punishments for obvious and glaring cases of misconduct as well as malafide take years to settle. Perhaps it is a case of those who can make a change being beyond the system and hence never being able to really appreciate the need for introducing systems that are the need of the times. 

Misplaced compassion is also often a reason. Even the greatest of our religious books, the Gita does not condone misplaced compassion on the underserving. Arjuna who is moved by a bout of compassion when he witnesses his own men poised to fight one another on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, is counselled by the lord to do his duty and not be moved by misplaced compassion.  

“Chalta hai” typically defines our national attitude. Concern only for the self without realizing that our welfare lies only in the welfare of the society, is perhaps the bane of our social system. Sadly confining oneself within the general rules of the society is regarded as a sign of a person who has not really arrived, in total variance with the conduct one witnesses in developed societies. It is indeed sad and a sign of backwardness of our social structure that social hierarchy invariably plays a vital  role in interactions, whether it is between a traffic constable and a bureaucrat in a white ambassador or a man on a bicycle and one in a car.

“Rules are for Fools” and “Might is right” are two proverbs that I came across right at the beginning of my career almost thirty four years ago.  And what a fit they have been. Rules and processes are discarded or applied on a case to case basis to favor or disfavor. It is not like the developed world where yardsticks remain the same irrespective of the power or wealth at the disposal of the individual under consideration and the judicial systems dispense justice that is swift and deterrent. 

Perhaps it is all about being a developed nation or being one of the developing ones. Yet the transition would only happen if we move forward as there is absolutely no premium on standing still. 

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