9th December 2019 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Shot
Question – By abandoning principles of justice to calm the rage, we are making the country more savage and less safe for women. Critically analyze the statement. (250 words)
Context –Extra judicial killings/ encounters.
What is meant by extra judicial killings/ encounter killing?
- ‘Encounter Killing’ is the term used to describe extrajudicial killings by the police or the armed forces when they encounter the alleged criminals or suspected gangsters.
Justice verma committee report:
- This report acknowledged that laws related to violence against women are adequate but some improvement could be made.
- Improving the status of women in non-legal ways
- Its legal recommendations included a much-needed broadening of the definition of rape.
- The report also recommended raising the minimum sentence for rape to 10 years.
Efforts made to strengthen legal framework:
- The 2013 criminal law amendment Act (2013) introduced the death penalty for some circumstances around rape, including repeat offences, despite the Verma Committee expressly arguing against this.
- Subsequent laws have raised mandatory minimum sentences and simultaneously raised the age of consent.
Negative Impact of changes in law:
- Further criminalization ( with longer sentences) of consenting underage couples.
- Laws have removed any discretion in minimum sentencing from the hands of judges. There is evidence from other fields of law that removing such discretion actually lowers the rate of conviction.
- Two of the largest categories of rape cases pertaining to consenting couples criminalised by the woman’s family (over 40% of the cases in Delhi) and ‘breach of promise to marry’ (over 25%). Further, conviction in cases other than those involving these two categories is over 75%.
- There is absence of any legal loopholes in laws concerning sexual violence against women but no legal protection is available for adult men from rape.
- Under the new Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, the sexual abuse of a transgender person carries a maximum sentence of two years only.
Issues in legal system related to rape cases:
- Non filing of FIR on due time
- Victims still face cross-examination about their past sexual histories; and
- There is still little by way of rehabilitation or even therapy offered to victims.
- There remain instances, particularly when the accused is a powerful person, where the process of exhausting the individual’s pre-trial options, including attempts to quash charges or shift the trial to a friendlier city, makes a mockery of a fast-track case;
- 2012 rape case life cycle :- Official statistics on the speed of trials by nature of crime are not maintained; however, there is anecdotal evidence among practising lawyers that the average rape trial in a big city at the trial court stage is now completed within two years, but the appellate process takes longer. In the 2012 Delhi case, the trial was conducted within a year, the High Court appeal by March 2014, and the Supreme Court appeal by May 2017. Subsequently, the appeals of the convicts against their sentence — the death penalty — were heard and rejected.
- The need of the hour is to rebuild the lost trust in the justice delivery mechanism in the country and fast-track the process.
Note: There is another article titled ‘An Asian Engine driven by India and China’. It primarily deals with RCEP and India-China cooperation and the need for maintaining peace by both the powers for economic progress of both the countries. This has already been covered in multiple articles. Refer to the editorials of –
- RCEP 31st october 5th November 21st November
- Indo-china cooperation 10th october 21st october