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