In 2012, the whole nation went on streets, protesting and fighting together for a girl who was brutally gang raped in the capital of the country. Yes, we are talking about the Nirbhaya’s rape case happened on 16th December seven years back. But even after seven years of the brutal incident, the accused seems to be well and alive. Not until recently when the whispers went around that all the four accused will be hanged soon!
On 9th July 2018, The Supreme Court of India denied all appeals and follow up review petitions by the accused. All four of them are already on the death row and will most likely to be hanged by the end of this year.
Nirbhaya convict wrote a mercy plea
One of the accuse of Nirbhaya rape, Akshay Kumar filed a mercy plea and in a 14 page petition, he says- “Why death penalty when age is reducing… it is mentioned in our Ved, Purans and Upanishads that… people lived the life of thousand years… now it is Kalyug, in this era, age of human beings have reduced much. It has now come to 50-60 years… this is almost a true analysis… when a person faces stark realities of life, then he is no better than a dead body”.
The petition further says that Delhi’s air pollution is bursting and is like a gas chamber, people are already dyeing by air pollution, “Life is going short to short, then why death penalty?” this isn’t enough, in the end the petition he even quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s famous advice- “Recall the face of the poorest and most helpless man.” What kind of senseless petition is this? On contrary if everyone here in the capital are dying due to pollution, not everyone is committing rape?
Unfortunately under Indian law, any person sentenced death by court has the right to appeal for mercy from the President as their last recourse. And in the name human rights, these culprits seems to be seeking an escape. However, the petition was rejected. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs also wrote to the Rashtrapati Bhavan suggesting that a review plea filed by the accused be rejected by the President.
The case came into light once again after a doctor in her mid-20 from Hyderabad was gang raped and burnt alive and the Unnao’s rape victim was set on fire. Amidst this chaos one question that always seems to haunt us is of course, women safety in the country.
What does NCRB reports has to claim?
A recent report by NCRB reveals darker side of the crimes against women. According to the report, a total of 3,59,849 cases were reported of crimes against women in 2017. Among this UP tops the list as 56,011 cases of crime against women were reported alone. Followed by Maharashtra with 31,979 cases and 30,002 in West Bengal. Rape by known persons still bears a large part of all the cases reported. Out of 32,559 reported cases, in 93.1 percent cases the accused were known to the victims. A total of 6,63,33 cases of abduction was reported, an increase of 4,152 cases of attempt to rape were seen in 2017. According to Thompsons foundation’s survey, India is the most dangerous country for women worldwide, every 3 minute a crime against women is committed somewhere in the nation. And then if we take a look at pending cases, 108 cases of rape and murder are pending in 2017 whereas out of 108382 cases of female abduction 14,406 are still pending. When on one hand only few cases of rapes are reported in the country and out of them so many remains in the pending quo, what fate awaits for women in the country? A survey also reveals that 24% of men has committed sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Nirbhaya funds utilization suggest why women in the country still remain unsafe. But what is this fund? Nirbhaya Fund was created in 2013 to ensure safety of women however it hasn’t been used well! Under this fund, the Centre gives a sum of 10,000 crore to the states, which in turn is spend on programmes meant for women’s safety but despite this initiative hardly any women can say they have been fearless. Utilization rate of Nirbhaya Fund has been very dismal as less than 9% of the money has been used. The department of justice has too donated to the Nirbhaya Fund. None of the states or UT’s has utilized any fund given to them by the department, according to the Centre’s reply in Parliament. So, in the end the promises made during the 2012 protest remains hollow from inside.
And here we are only talking about the areas related to sexual violence against women. If we go through the statistics including dowry deaths, female feticide, genital mutilation, murder, cases of jilted lovers and gender patriarchy, the results might be shocking. Crimes against women is a continuous loophole that just don’t end.
Coming back to the accused of Nirbhaya case, the whispers came out in the form of several clauses. One of them is of course the order of making 10 ropes to the Buxar jail. The Buxar jail is the only prison in India with the required expertise for preparing hanging ropes that are asked to be durable enough to hold heavy weights such as of human and allow for spontaneous death of the convict being executed. Together with this, the Tihar jail has also requested for the services of hangmen from UP. All the four convicts are now lodged in Tihar jail and the only among them, Pawan Gupta who was not in the jail before, was recently moved there from a nearby prison. And these are the major reasons why speculation came out that the government might be planning to hang them very soon.
Though, this is kind of a good news for us, but this soon isn’t so soon enough right? It’s been seven years of that gut wrenching case and the convicts are now being planned to be hanged. So what is the reason behind this delay?
When we talk about India, according to NCRB, a government agency, claimed that as many as 64.7% of Indian prisoners have not yet been convicted. And this is because the country doesn’t have enough judges to seek cases. We have an inefficient system because of the shortage we face of judges. According to another survey by the Indian Bar Association, since 2010, there were over 30 million cases pending in courts across India because of having only 11 judges per million people. This leaves India with a tenacious pile up of cases waiting to be heard. A report by the same also claims that many of the prisoners have never been to court on a single day in 5 years. So this is where we exactly lack. This mess in our justice system only ends up harming the interests of the country.
So what do we need to do now and how do we make our system more efficient is up to us. Apart from this making India a better place for women to live in also falls in our interest.