There seems to be an emotional storm once again in Delhi post the release of juvenile convict of 2012 Delhi gang rape case. Yes the accused is free now and will be leading his life in the society under the vigil of an NGO. However the blot he has cast on the face of society and mankind would never let him free, neither from the society, nor from the self.
The ire against the incident is so inflammable among the minds of the people that it is obviously feared to be ignited any time and hence the juvenile is kept under monitoring of an NGO instead of sending him to his home in Badayun in Uttar Pradesh.
The juvenile was one of the six men who were found guilty in the Nirbhaya gangrape case where a medical student was gang-raped and thrown out of a moving bus. The government flew her to a hospital in Singapore for medical treatment but she succumbed to her injuries. Outrage over his release had the government exploring their legal options on whether they can charge him under the National Security Act and keep him in jail for a longer time.
The crime was heinous enough not only to shock us into facing the horrors of rape, but also to examine the way the law regularly deals with it. But there is another horror we need to confront: the systemic apathy in delivering justice in rape cases. In all the noise seeking the ‘right quantum of punishment’ for a rapist-murderer who walks free tomorrow, the sheer scandal of the lack of forensic laboratories can’t be ignored and converted into mindless rage.
Judgments regularly enter a state of limbo due to the inordinate delay in forensic results reaching the courts. The result is a mockery made of the special fast-track courts (FTCs) that deal with sexual violence against women. There are nine such FTCs in Delhi, but the rate of disposal of cases has been abysmal. Delhi Police records show about 25,000 DNA samples awaiting reports from the state’s two forensic labs. This asymmetry is nothing short of criminal.
Justice delayed is justice denied, and nowhere is this truer than with crimes like rape where victims find it more difficult to pursue cases. More certified forensic labs must be set up on a war footing. This is not a demand-supply crunch, but a problem of priorities. So, even as we register our anger at a rapist murderer walking free tomorrow, a portion of that outrage should be directed towards setting up more labs that will facilitate justice being delivered more promptly. Before demanding stricter punishment by stretching the law, let us stop ignoring the procedural tools we should already be having in place to deliver punishment according to the existing laws of the land.
But sooner or later…Justice will prevail!