Rape Convicts Must Be Hanged At The Earliest From Now

“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.”

These are the priceless words not of me or my best friend Sageer Khan or of my advocate friends like Amit Sharma, Dheeraj Kaushik or Ajit Yadav or Parvez Alam or others but of Rajya Sabha Chairman who also happens to be the Vice President – M Venkaiah Naidu who has 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!

Why is it that rapists are not killed like mosquitoes in our country? Why when rape cases number many thousands in our country are all those thousands not hanged promptly? Why is it that lawmakers and even judiciary does not bother that only one rapist has been hanged in last 15 to 16 years who was Dhananjoy Chatterjee for rape cum murder of a Class XI girl on circumstantial evidence alone and who was so poor that senior Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves disclosed that his petition was drafted by prisoners of Tihar jail? Why in many other similar cases like that of Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case do we see that inspite of “clear and categorical” proof the rapist does not get death penalty and escapes with far lighter punishment just because some very eminent and experienced lawyers take up their case as the rapist hails either from a very wealthy family or holds key position like that of IAS or IPS etc? Why has Supreme Court allowed all this to happen right under its very nose? Supreme Court as well as Centre and Parliament has lot of explaining to do on this!

As we all know, the gruesome, cowardly and dastardly act of gang rape and cold blooded murder of 27 year old government veterinary doctor in Hyderabad has left the whole country shocking and seething but as usual yet once again the common person is feeling totally helpless as our Government in Centre does nothing to ensure that the real culprits are sent to gallows as early as possible! What we instead see is that politicians cutting across party lines light candles, light lamp and say strongly that they stand fully with the victim and their family! All this reprehensible sham must end now!

Why do we overlook what Meenakshi Lekhi who is New Delhi MP said that often people who participated in candle marches (protests against such crimes) were the ones who also protested against death sentence to the accused. She also very rightly pointed out that, “This should be made available to the public for them to know what is being said. I also feel that physical training should be made compulsory for girls in all schools.”

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?

Jaya Bachchan who is Samajwadi Party MP could not really control her emotions while speaking in Parliament and she burst her anger by saying that, “I know it is a little harsh, but I think these kind of people need to be brought out in public and lynched.” I cannot but cry on reading what Jaya Bachchan has written because she is an isolated case and the majority of MPs are just not prepared to even ensure that mandatory death penalty law be enacted for all rapists and not just this they are just happy to purchase time by setting up Committees and make some few minor changes! This alone explains why Vice President Venkaiah Naidu underscored the importance of political will and to go for the kill!

But a big question mark hangs on this and we have to wait and watch as we have been seeing since last 15 to 16 years that only one Dhananjoy was hanged! Even the rapists of Nirbhaya after being convicted by Supreme Court and their review petition being rejected are still not being hanged and Nirbhaya’s mother keeps crying and lamenting about this but in our country more prominence is given to price of onions which leaders from different parties are raising right now! Mob lynching certainly cannot be permitted in a democratic country like ours but when Supreme Court convicts rapist they must be sentenced to death and should never be allowed to come out of jail under any circumstances as this severely jeopardizes the very safety of rape victim as we saw most recently in Unnao!

Cricketer Harbhajan Singh sought PM Modi’s attention and wrote that, “Shame on all of us we keep letting these things happen again and again but nothing changes. Why can’t we make strict policy against such criminals and hang them in front of whole town to set the examples 4 others # Need ur attention Narendra Modi Sir.” Another former cricketer VVS Laxman who hails from Hyderabad where the 26 year old veterinary doctor was gangraped turn by turn and then set on fire by 4 men said rightly that, “It is time to punish and give no respite to the culprits who perform such inhuman and horrendous crime. Hoping for a swift action from Narendra Modi Ji and the Indian Govt.” Virat Kohli who is Indian skipper wrote: “What happened in Hyderabad is absolutely shameful. It’s high time we as a society take charge and put an end to these inhuman tragedies.”

But the moot question is: Will Centre act? Will it wake up from its deep slumber? Will it take steps to amend laws accordingly so that no escape route is left for those “dreaded goons” who indulge in rape or gangrape accompanied with murder?

There can be just no excuse for rape unlike murder where there are certain exceptions like “grave and sudden provocation” among others. A rape is a rape and must be punished with death once proved beyond doubt! Even if a woman roams nude then that also cannot be an excuse under any circumstances to justify rape! The mentality and psyche of police, politicians and society as a whole must undergo a huge change in this regard!

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!

Sanjeev Sirohi