The Acquittal of Death-Row Convicts in the Rape Cum Death Case is Disturbing!

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  • The Nirbhaya case which gained wide publicity within and outside of India also paved for more stringent guidelines whilst dealing with rape-cum-murder cases. The brutality and inhumane act with which the most heinous crime was perpetrated by the men involved had shaken the entire conscience of the country.  All the important stakeholders involved viz. the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary had unanimously believed that such brutally violent sexual crimes against women should be stopped at once by introducing watertight deterrent measures.  And the obvious measure was to strengthen the existing laws by supplementing them with clauses that leave no scope for the perpetrators to wriggle out of the possible loopholes in the system.

PC: Pradeep Sahoo

  • However, the absence of presenting foolproof evidence against the sick-minded monsters despite clearly demarcated guidelines has been the bane of law enforcement agencies. The basic tenet of policing most often than not gets compromised leaving the victims and their families distraught.  It happened again recently as the country woke up to the news of the Supreme Court acquitting three death-row prisoners in the 2012 Chhawla gangrape-murder case.  The court’s reason being several procedural failings during the investigation and trial yet again mirrors a terrible state of affairs.  Note that this crime happened in Delhi just months before the Nirbhaya case that jolted India and led to the reform of sexual assault laws as mentioned above.
  • Sadly, the shoddy prosecution carried out over 2013 and 2014 as well as the Delhi high court’s failure to spot these lapses show that the Nirbhaya-inspired change of laws didn’t engender enough systemic changes. SC noted that 10 material witnesses of the 49 witnesses’ prosecution examined weren’t even cross-examined by defence counsel, and many witnesses weren’t adequately cross-examined.  The court also said trial judges weren’t expected to be passive umpires but are required to question witnesses to reach a correct conclusion.  The accused are often unable to secure competent legal assistance.  A fair trial requires a judge to adequately interrogate the prosecution version.

PC: Radhika M

  • Worryingly, there were big lapses in the investigation too. A test identification parade of the accused wasn’t conducted despite there being some eyewitnesses to the victim’s kidnapping.  Astonishingly, the trial court and Delhi HC accepted the police version of the accused’s arrest, confessions, and recoveries without corroborative evidence.  Further, even the manner of discovering evidence, collecting samples, and dispatching them for forensic analysis violated procedures, creating room for false implications.  Thus, the trial court and HC awarded death penalties despite such infirmities.  This was a case where police, lawyers, and judges failed in their discharge of duties.  We, the citizens, are desolate with very troubling questions arising within us.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.