Those Who Burn Women Must Be Hanged Promptly

 There can be no “ifs” and there can be no “buts”. There can be no “may”. The one and the only punishment for those who burn women is that they must be hanged promptly as soon as the Supreme Court convicts them. No escape route should be left open for those who burn women!

It goes without saying that there should be no review petition for them. There should be no mercy petition for them. Our laws must be amended accordingly. It brooks no more delay.

It merits no reiteration that the alarming rise in the incidents in which women are being burnt in our country especially in UP and Bihar are most concerning and the Supreme Court must now step in. It must ensure that those who burn women are not spared from gallows under any circumstances and must be promptly hanged without fail. No one is asking for “instant justice” but they must be punished as per “due process of law” which must be speed up so that a loud and clear message goes out to one and all that, “Be you ever so high the law is above you.”

It is a national disgrace that only one poor Dhananjoy Chatterjee has been hanged in the last 15 years and that too just on basis of circumstantial evidence alone. If Dhananjoy can be hanged in 2004 then why are the other thousands of killers and rapists of women who first rape a women, then gang rape a women turn by turn and then burn her not be hanged promptly? How can they be spared from gallows?

Why are they all not being hanged? Why this selective hanging? Is this is what is enshrined in Article 14 of our Constitution?

What message does this send? Why are the rich and the powerful easily allowed to escape from death penalty? Why can’t thousands of rapists who burn women be hanged and killed like mosquitoes? It is high time and now punishment must be inflicted equally on all criminals, rapists and those goons who burn women to death!

It is most hurting to learn that in a horrifying incident yet another woman in Bihar was set on fire allegedly after a failed rape bid by a neighbour. The accused has been arrested. Why should such demons not be hanged most promptly?

It must be informed here that the woman aged 23 was alone at home in Nazirpur village under the Ahiyapur police station limits of Muzaffarpur districts of Bihar on December 7, 2019, when the accused entered her home and tried to rape her. When she resisted, he allegedly set her on fire. She received 50% burns and was admitted to a government hospital in Muzaffarpur town as was disclosed by Vikas Rai who is Ahiyapur police station officer.

Be it noted, the doctors at the government hospital in Muzaffarpur said her condition was “very critical” and that she had been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit. The victim’s mother, who works at a primary health centre in the district, has lodged a complaint against her neighbour as the accused in the case. Her whole life has been destroyed for no fault of her! Her only fault is that she was born as women and not as men!

Should such killers and demons still not be hanged to due after trying him promptly as per due process of law? Why should we wait for women to die before convicting him? Why should such demons not be tried promptly and punished swiftly and strictly so that a loud and clear message goes that crimes against women would be heavily punished and those goons who perpetrated the dastardly crime would not be spared under any circumstances?

It must also be informed here that the victim’s mother who was totally unconsolable lamented that, “He has been harassing my daughter for the last three years…it was because of continuous harassment and threat that my daughter had stopped going to college…I had also approached the local police several times but no action was taken against him.”

Bluntly put: Why is the police so insensitive in our country? Why are guilty police cops not held accountable for their grave lapses which ultimately culminates in heinous crimes being perpetrated against women with impunity? Why is prompt action not taken against those who commit heinous crimes against women? Why police does no ensure women’s safety?

Moving on, the victim’s mother further revealed that, “She is our youngest child and was alone at home when the man entered the house…he tried to rape her but when my daughter resisted he set her on fire.” The accused who is son of a local strongman and property dealer has also been allegedly issuing threats to the family. Why should such demon not be hanged?

Should our criminal justice system still spare him so that he can further repeat such horrifying act after being encouraged that law has been unable to touch him? Why do we forget that if the Allahabad High Court had not given bail to the accused in Unnao gang rape case, they would not have come out of the jail and would not have been able to stab the women victim and set her on fire who later succumbed to her burn injuries as she was 90% burnt after saying to her brother that, “I want to live. I don’t want to die.”? Why the rape accused and those accused of heinous crimes against women granted bail so quickly by our courts?

Why should bail rules not be changed when the crime pertains to women? Why should the provisions of bail not be tightened so that the accused don’t get bail easily in cases of crimes against women? Why in cases of crimes against women is jail not made the rule and bail made the exception unlike in other cases where “Bail is the rule and jail is the exception” so that criminals think ten times before committing any act of crime against women?

Simply put, what is happening in our country? Why are we just happy after hanging one poor Dhananjoy Chatterjee in last 15 years? Why are the rapists cum murderers in other cases being spared inspite of direct evidence available against them? Why the rich and powerful criminals are being spared repeatedly?

It must also be disclosed here that the Muzaffarpur Police Superintendent Jayant Kant said that, “The main accused has been arrested and will soon be sent to judicial custody”. But this one step alone is not enough. Why should our laws not be amended to punish such accused who try to burn women and make an attempt also in this direction with mandatory death penalty? Why do we keep allowing such incidents to happen repeatedly in our country? Why there is no zero tolerance for increasing crimes against women in our country?

It must be asked in simple and straight language: Why have we become completely insensitive to crimes against women? Why there is an alarming increase in incidents of most horrifying crimes against women in our country by either burning her or gang raping her or throwing acid on her? Why should all such barbarous act of crime not be punished with mandatory death penalty?

What also must be asked here are a few more troubling questions: Why is judiciary not acting most strongly against all such most reprehensible acts of violence against an “armless and helpless” women in this regard? Why are the rights of the accused given the topmost priority? Why accused facing serious gang rape charges are allowed to come of the jail on bail and then stab and burn alive the women they had earlier gang raped as we saw most shamefully and most disgracefully in Unnao?

It must also be asked: Why don’t those in the helm of affairs of judiciary realize that if judiciary even now fails to act and swiftly and sternly punish the accused then people will completely lose their faith in our Indian judicial system which already stands corroded to a great extent and will start taking law in their own hands which will for sure lead our country to complete anarchy, lawlessness and destruction? Can we dare to afford this at this critical juncture? Why are we then not acting now? No wonder, people threw flowers at Hyderabad police for killing 4 gang rapists cum murderers accused!

How many incidents of burning women on one pretext or the other should I write to highlight that crimes against women of worst nature like burning women to death, throwing acid on her, gang raping her etc are most rapidly increasing?  Why criminals have no fear of law? Why do they feel that they can easily save themselves? It is because criminals easily get bail and just 3 rapists are hanged in last 40 years which must now compel judiciary to do some serious introspection as to why no gang rapist barring Ranga and Birla have been hanged in last more than 40 years instead of just raising question marks on the Hyderabad encounter alone!

Needless to say, it is because of the excruciatingly glacial pace at which our criminal justice system moves that these criminals, gang rapists etc can make an open mockery of law as they want, whenever they want and wherever they want as they like! Why our lawmakers have never been serious in ensuring that they are hanged for their misdeeds? Why escape routes are left open for them in our criminal justice system thus defeating the very purpose for which justice system is meant?

It is not for nothing that senior and eminent Supreme Court lawyer Subramanian Swamy who is also a famous politician minced just no words in blaming corrupt politicians for the increase in crimes of worst horrifying kind against women. It is a hard fact and an unpalatable truth which we cannot deny that 45% of our elected representatives from every party in Parliament have serious criminal cases of rape, murder etc pending against them! Can we ever even hope that such lawmakers will ever make strict laws to stop the rapidly increasing crimes against women?

No doubt, we are really nothing but “fools” if we hope so! This alone explains why only 3 persons have been hanged for rape cases in last more than 37 years! Shame on them for having utmost soft corner for criminals and giving them the privilege of mercy petition and then not deciding it in decades so that they are not hanged and shame also on us for having elected such lawmakers who never want mandatory death penalty for rapists in our country and who always want that they should not be hanged!

What a crying shame that a girl child is not safe even in the home district of Nagpur from where our incumbent CJI – Sharad Arvind Bobde hails! Just recently the body of the five-year-old daughter of a farm labourer with her head smashed was found on an agriculture farm in Linga village in Nagpur district! CJI rightly warns us of the perils of “instant justice” but it is high time and now crimes against women have to be fought on a war footing if we want that the people’s faith in judiciary stands restored!

It must be underscored that there has to be zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women and girl! The accused must be tried promptly and a fixed time limit must be set in all such cases for trial to happen and cases to be decided. It brooks no more delay now anymore!

While it is true that “Justice hurried is justice buried” but it is equally true also that “Justice delayed is justice denied”! It is good to learn that amid the outrage over the death of the Unnao rape victim by brutally stabbing and then burning her, the UP government has finally woken up and has now announced that it would set up 218 fast track courts for speedy disposal of cases of sexual crimes against women and children. The State at present has 42,389 pending cases of sexual offences against children and 25,749 pending cases of rape and by none other than UP State Law Minister – Brajesh Pathak.

He further revealed that given the high number of pending cases and to ensure their speedy disposal, 218 new fast track courts would be set up, including 144 for sexual crimes against women. He also said that, “Out of this, 144 will be regular courts and will hear only rape cases. For crimes against children, under POCSO [Protection of Children from Sexual Offences], we are going to open 74 new courts.”

He further disclosed that, “New posts of judges of the level of the Additional Sessions Judge would be created in all the 218 courts. The government had estimated a budget of Rs 75 lakh per court. The Centre would bear 60% of the costs and the State the remaining.” This is really a good step in the right direction and other States too must emulate UP in this regard!

But this alone is not enough! Our laws must be also amended accordingly as is being contemplated also as was disclosed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah who had said that IPC, CrPC and penal laws will be amended drastically as it has been continuing from the British colonial era and it is the need of the hour also! Those who burn women or throw acid on women or cause grievous hurt to women must be awarded mandatory death penalty and for this to happen our penal laws must be amended accordingly! It brooks no more delay anymore!

Sanjeev Sirohi

Why Only One Dhananjoy Chatterjee Hanged Till Now?

                                     Let me begin by first and foremost saying that, “A rape is a rape and under no circumstances can ever be justified! Even if a woman roams nude or is habituated to sex, this can be no ground to justify rape”! Even Supreme Court has time and again reiterated this!  Yet it is the single biggest misfortune of India that in last 15 to 16 years, only one poor rapist named Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged for rape cum murder of a Class XI girl and that too on circumstantial evidence alone and still he was not given the benefit of doubt! Why this zero tolerance as shown in Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s case not shown in other cases also? Why should we be not ashamed of it?

While lamenting about this, senior and eminent Supreme Court advocate Colin Gonsalves very rightly pointed out that his petition was drafted by prisoners of Tihar jail and we cannot dispute that this was rightly termed as “miscarriage of justice! Why in many other similar cases like that of Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case where a law student studying in LLB who was raped and murdered by her senior was the convict not hanged similarly?

Just because the convict was affluent and powerful! This is just one case I am citing. There are many more such cases where we see that the rich and powerful very easily escape death penalty by hiring a battery of eminent and experienced lawyers and escape with far lesser punishment! All this happens right under the nose of the Supreme Court and still we see nothing changes in last so many years! This is what I find most worrying!

What is even more deplorable is that our legal system proceeds on an excruciatingly glacial pace for which no one else but our lawmakers are directly responsible! Who are these lawmakers? Those who are elected to Parliament and 45% of them are facing criminal cases including that of rape case! Why should these lawmakers not be barred from entering Parliament until they are finally exonerated not by just lower court but by the top court? How can we expect such lawmakers to make tough laws?

This alone explains why we have all this review petition, curative petition, mercy petition etc which ensures that cases are not decided in time and by the time cases are decided finally the family of victims lose all hope and break down completely! Should we be proud of this? Why there is no mandatory death penalty for rape cases? Who is protecting them?

The Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu very rightly said that,  “What happens even after punishment is given (to convicts). We all are witness…appeal, mercy (petition)… can anybody think of having mercy on such people? This kind of violation of dignity of women cannot go on unchallenged. What is required is not a new bill; what is required is political will, administrative skill and then change of mindset and then go for the kill of the social evil.”  He has very rightly expressed his utmost unhappiness on the niggardly and glacial pace with which our justice system moves most excruciatingly which completely destroys the morale of the parents and relatives of victims which under no circumstances can ever be justified by anyone! The Vice President has very rightly and eruditely suggested a rethink on the practice of allowing convicts in such heinous crimes to go in for mercy appeals because the death sentence of convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya case, which saw major protests and tougher legislation, were still to be carried out. He also very rightly suggested that photographs of those guilty of crimes against women should be published to instill social stigma and fear in them!

Police encounters in which undertrials are killed cannot be justified. But we saw how just recently in early morning hours of December 6, 2019 when the police killed all the four rape accused in Hyderabad gangrape-cum-murder, there was a national rejoicing as we saw for ourselves in different newschannels and even MPs and Chief Ministers as well as former Chief Ministers welcomed this and a huge crowd of people started throwing flowers on those policemen who killed them! This is mainly because we rarely see rapist being hanged and our legal system proceeds so slowly that many people now have lost faith in the capability of our judicial system to deliver justice in time! This is most dangerous for our country and for this not  just Supreme Court but even Parliament which comprises of our lawmakers and many of whom are themselves facing serious crime charges must introspect honestly and make tough laws in this regard including barring all those MPs who are under the scanner!

Why should a civilized society have any soft corner for such “dreaded goons” who indulge in gangrape? Why do our courts display leniency towards such dastardly acts of crime and why mandatory death penalty is not awarded to such “dreaded goons”? Why those committing such dastardly acts are not awarded mandatory death penalty in all such cases where either a child is raped or gang rape is omitted accompanied with murder?

Why in our IPC punishment for gangrape is classified according to age? Why are “minors” who are less than 18 years of age allowed to get away most easily by just spending 3 years at the most in a child reform house? Why should any form of leniency be shown even for “minors” who “brutally vandalise” the very dignity and wellbeing of a female without any fault of her?

Why should those rapists who know how to gangrape be let off just by citing their age factor? How can Centre justify it? How can Parliament justify it? How can any Court justify it?

Why are rapists released for some time on bail? Why the life and safety of victim is not cared for by the police? Why do we see that rapists after coming out of the jail many times corner the girl and then killed her by either burning her as we saw most recently in Unaao in UP where the women was raped in March and then just recently while she was going to a court in Rai Bareli in a rape case was most brutally attacked by 5 men who had earlier raped her and was burnt 90 percent? Still our Parliament will keep dwelling on whether to award death penalty to such rapists or not!

Why women does not feel safe anywhere in India? It is because our politicians, Judges, lawmakers feel most happy and proud to note that in last 15 to 16 years just one poor Dhananjoy Chatterjee is hanged for rape cum murder and do just nothing to ensure that others against whom there is strong evidence also unlike Dhananjoy’s case where evidence was just circumstantial are hanged similarly! Should we be proud of this and does it enhance the reputation of our country in the world?

Under the amended law for rape, no “discretion bomb” in the form of “may” should be left which has been mostly abused in favour of the rape accused and the punishment should only be death and nothing but death so that all those who rape are promptly hanged and not once in 15 or 16 years as we saw in case of Dhananjoy Chatterjee! There should be no life term, no twenty years but only death for gang rape. It is most unfortunate that even under the 2018 amended Section 376D of IPC which prescribes punishment for gang rape we see that the punishment  is not less than twenty years but which may extend to life! Why “may extend to life”? Why so much of leniency that even for gang rape we see that punishment starts from twenty years but extends only to life and here too discretionary power rests with Judge which is shameful and what is most shameful is that there is no mention of death penalty even here leave alone making it mandatory? This must change now!

Why different punishment prescribed for gang rape on woman under 16 years of age as prescribed in Section 376DA and that on woman under 12 years of age as prescribed under Section 376DB of IPC? Why only life imprisonment under Section 376DA and not death? Why option of life and death in Section 376DB of IPC?

Why even for repeated offenders there is no mandatory death penalty and why the option of life term is added simultaneously in Section 376E of IPC?  All these escape routes must be closed now forever so that rapists are never able to take advantage of the loopholes in our legal system anymore now! But are our politicians, lawmakers and Centre ready to do this or will they be happy with just face saving exercise and lip service? Only time will tell!

The past track record in cases like Nirbhaya and many others are not very inspiring but they can still be rectified! The ball is in court of Centre, lawmakers and Parliament for it is they who enact the law and it is they who ensure that rapists in Nirbhaya case like many others are not hanged even after being convicted by the Supreme Court and even after their review petition gets rejected by Supreme Court as they just sit on mercy petition and don’t decide it soon as we saw in case of killers of former PM late Rajiv Gandhi whose mercy petition kept pending for decades! Should we be proud of this?

Must act now without fail or else our democratic system will crumble and if gang hanging is not done it is people who will then do mob hanging like we are seeing also in many cases! No more excuses! No castration, no jail term, no life term and no minor excuse but only death as they deserve to be hanged at the earliest and killed like mosquitoes! No mercy for them, no review for them and no other escape route for them! Only death!

Why rape cases are not decided within few days or a month? Why sentence is not handed out promptly? Why cases keep pending for decades first in lower courts, then in high court and finally in Supreme Court?

Why can’t this be corrected by our lawmakers by amending law accordingly and setting a fixed time limit for deciding rape cases? Why is time limit not set for deciding review petition? Why is review and curative petition not abolished in heinous crimes like rape and terror?

Why mercy petition is not decided in few days or why should it not be abolished altogether for rape and terror cases? Why only the rights of the accused takes precedence over the rights of the victim? Why even our lawmakers prefer to look the other way on this all important issue as we have been seeing since last 72 years?

It is high time and now concrete steps must be taken on ground to ensure that our penal laws are amended and the most strictest punishment of death penalty be imposed uniformly on all those indulging in gang rape and there should be no “mercy petition” facility for such “dreaded goons” who display the worst form of violence against women whom we all worship in one form or the other like Durga, Gauri, Kali etc or in form of our mother and sister!

Can gangrape of any female accompanied with murder be justified under any circumstances? Can any punishment less than death penalty be ever justified in such cases of heinous crimes? If still Centre says “Yes” then it must immediately abolish death penalty for all types of crimes for it has no right to be on our penal laws if it cannot be awarded to those who indulge in gangrape or even rape accompanied with murder!

What the hell is Centre doing? How long will it keep inviting views from all on this? How long will it shy away from amending our penal laws to make it mandatory for death penalty to be imposed in all cases of rape or gangrape accompanied with murder? How long will female keep getting raped, gangraped and murdered?

Needless to say, this alone explains that why we are even below Pakistan and Bangladesh when it comes to “happiness index”! No time is spared to hang those who commit heinous crimes in Pakistan and Bangladesh. But see what is happening in our country!

Those accused in Nirbhaya gangrape cum murder case have not even been hanged till now seven years later even though Supreme Court has awarded them death penalty and their review petition have also been rejected! They are now availing the facility of “mercy petition” for which no definite time limit is specified for deciding it due to which they remain pending for many years! How can all this be justified by anyone on any ground whatsoever?

Why is gang rape in India not accompanied with gang hanging? Why should they be allowed to escape on any ground whatsoever? Why should they be allowed to escape punishment citing age as a reason? What message are we sending by exempting minors from strictest punishment?

The biggest treachery that our politicians have done with our Constitution is to ensure that heinous crimes like gang rape or rape accompanied with murder, terror crimes funded by foreign countries are not punished with mandatory death penalty and also by not abolishing ‘mercy petition’ privilege for such “dreaded goons” and terrorists!  Why our judicial and legal system saves rapists and more crucially gang rapists from being hanged? How many gang rapists have been hanged till now since 1947 till 2019? We all know the answer! We all must be terribly ashamed of it. All Supreme Court Judges and all senior and eminent lawyers whom I would term “legal giants” like Soli J Sorabjee, Harish Salve, Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi among others must introspect on this and give their expert advice to enhance the reputation of judiciary in the eyes of people and restore the waning confidence among the people which is a matter of utmost concern for all of us! We just cannot now afford to sit idle anymore!

Sanjeev Sirohi