Everyone has welcomed today’s Supreme Court verdict, of rejecting the death penalty review petitions of three of the remaining four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape case. However, activists are of the view that capital punishment will not help in deterring offenders and hence will not help in the greater cause.

Ravi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini said, “In fact, death penalty is not the long-term solution to the issue we are dealing with here. Since there was public pressure and the fact that the crime was very serious, so Supreme Court has given this verdict. Now the verdict has become the law of the land.”

Need to do a lot more

“But there are several cases of serious offences on women and children that I think we need to do a lot more than just pronouncing capital punishment. We feel that the country need systemic changes, institutional setup, increase in investigation. Since there was a lot of public hue and cry in this case, so death penalty seems like the right decision but government of India needs to invest a lot more in law-enforcing agencies,” he added.

Advocate of the Kathua rape and murder case of an eight-year-old nomad girl, Deepika Singh Rajawat, also has similar views. “It is definitely a relief for the parents of Jyoti (Nirbhaya) and the judiciary has once again proved that it is against rape. It is a good move, but I have always said that capital punishment can’t curtail rape cases. We are satisfied with the SC judgment but even after this case, thousands of other cases have happened too in the country.”

Sensitization is key

When asked what can help reducing such crimes, Rajawat said, “First of all, our government should be conscious of what they say. Somebody in Yogi Adityanath’s government recently made a pathetic rape threatening comment. It is very unfortunate. We cannot have such elected representatives and then think of ways to stop rape. As much as we need sensitization among the general public, I feel even the government officials need sensitization so they can deal with such issues with more clarity.”

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Ranjana Kumari, head of Centre for Social Research, has stood firm with Jyoti’s family in all these years when the parents kept making rounds of the courts. She is extremely happy with the SC decision to reject the convicts’ review petitions. “Supreme Court has done the right thing by dismissing the review petition because the case has been conclusively proven that it is ‘rarest of the rare case’ and the convicts have committed the most heinous crime.”

“First of all our government should be conscious of what they say. Somebody in Yogi Adityanath’s government recently made a pathetic rape threatening comment. It is very unfortunate. We cannot have such elected representatives and then think of ways to stop rape,” – Deepika Singh Rajawat

Justice delivered

“The thing is it took six years and still one person has not filed the review petition, now he will also do it. Then they will go for mercy petition to the President. But anyway, Supreme Court has delivered the justice we were all waiting for, especially for the parents. They are brave people and have gone through the pain for so many years. And with this SC has sent out a clear message that finally one will get the punishment,” said Kumari.

Crime scenario as grim as ever

While the 23-year-old’s brutal rape and murder and the following protests and demonstrations did force the government to set up the Verma Commission and amend laws, their implementation has not brought about much change. In fact, even after the 2012 case, many more such cases have come forth, targeting not just with adult women, but younger girls and even infants. So capital punishment and due processes have clearly not curtailed the crime.

“In spite of POCSO, rape and molestation have increased so much against girl children and that has happened basically because the conviction rate is extremely low. What we need in such cases is that judgment comes out within six months  and that proper investigation takes place in such cases,” said Mariam Dhwale, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.

So can capital punishment bring down the number of rape cases? Maybe not. But did the Supreme Court have any other choice, but to hang the rapists considering the fact that a billion Indians were seeking justice? Most definitely no.

Picture credit- Zee News

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