The youngest of the accused in the Delhi gang rape case has been sentenced to three years in reform home.
According to the Indian Penal Code, crimes of murder are punishable by death. More so, after this horrific incident in December 2012, and the public uproar it created, the government of India toughened laws and imposed the death penalty in cases where a victim of rape is left in a vegetative state after an attack.
For many this brought a sense of hope and it was precisely this hope and the expectation of a tougher sentencing that has left the entire nation reeling.
Kiran Bedi, an Indian Social Activist and a retired Indian Police Service officer expressed her frustration via Twitter, saying that “Courts need not be mechanical robots. We make laws and then interpret them not to be enslaved but do justice to victims too“.
However, according to the Indian juvenile court system, 3 years is the maximum sentence a juvenile can receive. By this standard, the convicted murderer received the maximum sentence and justice was served.
Yet, one should ask whether age should have been the only factor that prevented this criminal from being persecuted by the fullest extent? In my opinion, whether the accused was 17 or 18 should be irrelevant. Emotional and intellectual maturity is what should be the focus of attention as opposed to the juvenile’s numerical age. One year does not separate the men from the boys. After all, five of the attackers were over the age of 18 and not one of them acted like a proper man.
Also, according to investigative reports, this man was accused of being the most violent while carrying out this horrific crime. How then is it fair that the most violent perpetrator be sentenced to simply three years at a reform home?
The answer is simple: it isn’t fair. Instead what would be fair is for heinous crimes to be prosecuted differently from ordinary crimes, like petty theft. The judicial system should have in place different legal provisions based on the seriousness of the crime committed. Justice for such crimes should not be determined by age alone. After all, does it really make sense to give a murderer and a thief a similar sentence? I think not.
While the Juvenile Justice Board believes in reform as opposed to punishment, it seems almost ridiculous to believe that such a criminal could truly reform after having committed such a heinous crime.
I am inclined to believe in second chances. However, I am also inclined to believe in justice for the victim, who isn’t with us anymore. The facts remain that this man was one of the six men who attacked her, and ultimately murdered her. I am no lawyer, nor am I a expert. I am however a woman, and this verdict was a slap in the face for women everywhere and particularly in India. On a daily basis women in India are sexually harassed, from catcalls on streets and groping in buses to rapes. Quite often the police refuse to accept complaints by female victims and even accuse them of inviting unwanted male attention by dressing provocatively.
This verdict was an institutional failure and has made the Indian judicial system look like a complete joke.
What are your views? Are you pro-reform or pro-punishment? Are 3 years enough?
We have a voice, use it.
- 3 year sentence for the juvenile in the Delhi gang-rape and murder trial (weeklynewssummary.wordpress.com)
- 17 year old brute assassins government (raeindia.wordpress.com)
- Rape, Murder and Juvenile (In)justice (kaalratri.com)