Rajat Sharma

A look at how rapists take undue advantage of loopholes in legal system

akb0808The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a review petition by Akshay Singh, one of the four convicts in the infamous Nirbhaya gangrape murder case. The same day, a Delhi court directed Tihar jail authorities to issue notice to all the four convicts apprising them of their remaining legal remedies and gather their responses within a week. The court will hear the case on January 7.

Under Rule 837 of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, the jail superintendent has to inform the death row convicts that if they desire to submit mercy petitions , they should be submitted in writing within seven days of such intimation. For issuing death warrants, review petitions of all convicts have to be dismissed.

The statuses of the four death row convicts are presently at different stages. One of the convicts Mukesh has said he will not submit mercy petition and another convict Vinay withdrew his mercy petition. The fourth convict Pawan has filed a petition in Delhi High Court claiming that he was minor at the time of crime in 2012.

Seven years after the horrendous Nirbhaya incident, her mother on Wednesday, with tears in her eyes, asked the additional sessions judge: “They have their rights, what about our rights?” The judge told her, “I know someone has died, but there are their rights too. We are here to listen to you, but we are also bound by the law.”

There was nationwide outrage over the Nirbhaya incident seven years ago. Even though the courts have handed out death sentence to the convicts, there are loopholes in the legal system which are being taken advantage of by the convicts. These loopholes are the main reasons for delay in delivery of justice.

You will be surprised to know that in Delhi alone, after the Nirbhaya incident, there were 14,384 rape cases in Delhi alone till date, and no death sentence was given in a single case. Courts gave verdicts in only about 800 cases.

The first big reason behind delay in delivery of justice is the attitude of the police. It has been noticed that police is normally reluctant to file cases for incidents of sexual assault and rape. In some cases, the rape survivors are harassed by the police, and their families are persuaded not to pursue the cases because of “social blot”.

The second reason is: slipshod investigations by police. Because of unprofessional investigation, the prosecution’s case fails to stand legal scrutiny. The third reason: paucity in number of forensic labs where DNA of samples can be tested. The fourth reason: paucity in the number of prosecutors. In some POCSO cases, there were hardly any prosecution lawyers available. The fifth reason: witnesses turn hostile during cross-examination in courts.

Bunched together, the attitude of the police, long legal procedures and societal outlook, collectively exert too much pressures on the minds of rape survivors and their families. In several cases, police fail to provide security to rape survivors, the victim turns hostile due to threats and intimidation and the rapists go scot free.

Now that the hearing has been posted till January 7, it is now clear that Nirbhaya’s killers will not be hanged in 2019. Her parents will have to wait till next year for justice to be delivered.

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