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The High Courts in various parts of India certainly seem to have been busy these past few days. And sadly, not always for the right reasons. Yesterday, was judgment day for the Pratibha murder trial, and what was widely believed to be an open-and-shut case.
Here was an innocent employee, trying to get to work for her graveyard shift – completely deceived by the shuttle driver that picked her up, drove her to a desolate corner outside Bangalore, committed what can only be described as a heinous crime, and heartlessly ended her life in the process. There is absolutely no way that this criminal deserves any consideration, any mercy for what he did. The only explanation he could come up with was that he hadn’t had sex since his wife had gotten pregnant and so he was desperate?
So yeah, before the judgment came out, the reasonable expectation was that he would get the death sentence – not just to punish him for what he did, but equally importantly, also to send a stern message to society to seriously deter other such occurrences in the future. That would simply have been the right thing to do – what the man got instead was instead a sentence of much lesser severity, he was sentenced to a lifetime in person. Of course, he could always win a pardon based on good behavior, other circumstances etc and there is the possibility of him being released back into mainstream society, but for now, the sentence calls for just Life Imprisonment. Very disappointing, to say the least!
While the sentence itself seemed much milder given the crime, what was truly shocking was the explanation for the reduced sentence.
“There was no dominating control over the deceased. She was not a helpless woman,” the Judge noted in his 113-page judgment, adding the crime was not enormous in nature and not in the “rarest of rare” bracket. This was not a case of bride burning and not against a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or minority religion.”
No, I am so NOT kidding – this was the actual justification that was used. A rape committed at gunpoint…in the middle of the night, in an isolated corner of the city, and then promptly followed by murder. And the honorable custodian of justice in the state has this explanation to give? He doesn’t think this was enormous?
Let’s think for a second – how much more could the accused have done for it to fall into the “enormous” category? What else should Prathibha have endured? She wasn’t burned alive, so lets spare a thought for the killer and thank him with a reduced sentence? And yeah, the icing on the cake – that she didn’t belong to a specific caste or religion? Seriously? Was Pratibha being Hindu the justification for why this wasn’t as ghastly a crime? Which genius even wrote these laws? And here we are, aspiring and hoping that this nation will be a world superpower one day in the future, when we can’t even honor basic morals and values? What kind of example is this setting?
The poor soul hasn’t suffered enough, it seems like. I am sure she’s tossing and turning in her grave, wondering how much more she is going to have to endure? This judgment, in my humble opinion, is a grave mistake. To me, a punishment serves 2 purposes – it punishes the guilty for the crime they committed so they get their due and cannot commit another crime again in the future but more importantly, it also serves as a deterrent for other potential criminals.
This judgment does neither one satisfactorily. For a crime as enormous as rape (and yes, no matter what the honorable judge says, it is enormous), I would recommend that the least punishment is dismembering the guilty – to me, that will serve both purposes to a sufficient degree. Yes, I know that sounds harsh but any punishment should fit the crime, you know? I hope this mistake doesn’t get too far, and is quickly rectified. If appealing to a higher court is what it takes, then I hope that happens. Yeah, I know, am the hopeless optimist!