NIRBHAYA .. A Case for Introspection

Yesterday, that is 20th March 2020, four convicts, of the original six culprits,  involved in gang rape and murder of a young woman, known now to the world as NIRBHAYA, were hanged to death. The crime was committed on December 16, 2012 in Delhi. That means to say that seven years and  three months and four days elapsed between crime and punishment.

It is worthwhile and educative to go through the timeline.

In the year 2013, that is the year following crime, three significant events take place. In March 2013 one of the suspects, Ram Singh, commits suicide in jail. In September of that year Juvenile Justice Board sends the juvenile to correction home for three years. In the same month the Fast Track Court (FTC) sentences the remaining four accused to death penalty.  This means that exactly nine months spanned the crime and the first award of punishment.

Within six months, that is in March 2014 Delhi High Court upholds the penalty awarded by the FTC.

After a lapse of three years and two months, which is in May 2017, Supreme Court upholds the verdict of High Court.

Between confirmation of sentence by the Supreme Court and execution, two years and ten months did elapse. During these thirty four months legal activities involved mercy petitions and review petitions. The lawyer exploited all loopholes in IPC to ensure that his clients got as long a lease of life as possible. The lawyer even managed to file a review petition, which was dismissed,  barely six hours prior to scheduled time of hanging.

It is notable that, in about seventy eight months, between September 2013 and March 2020 nothing happened in “real” terms. The original sentence by FTC remained unaltered. Out of these seventy five months six were taken by the High Court for confirmation. This is reasonable. A further time of thirty eight months were taken by the Supreme Court for upholding the High Court verdict. This long duration may lead to raising of eyebrows. A further period of thirty four months was consumed by review and mercy petitions. This may prompt people to ask questions about credibility of our legal system.

We need to look at the final seventy two months or six years with a magnifying glass. It comes to mind that the Supreme Court could have possibly expedited the case. Legal procedures involving reviews and mercy petitions need to be looked into critically. Government of India’s Law and Justice Department has a major role to play here in order to bring about proper revisions.

More By  :  Dr. KS Raghavan

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