After a long trail of protests and hunger strikes in response to the Kathua Rape case, the government has finally taken an action on the issue by extending the Punishment for the Rapes of minors under the POCSO Act, 2012. From now onwards, if any person in India commits rape of any girl below 12 years of age, the maximum punishment for him will be to ‘hang him till death’. A similar ordinance was passed in 2012 for the rapes of adults after the nation-wide protests seeking justice for Nirbhaya. But the real question here is that we have been increasing the punishment for the rape cases, but the Rapists easily get away with these punishments because of the sloppy Judicial System of India.
As per a recent report by the times of India, over 3 lakh cases relating to sexual harassment and abduction including rape are pending in various courts of India. Out of these, more than 31,000 rape cases are pending in High Courts whereas, most of the remaining cases are in the district courts. Many of the cases in district courts are pending since past 5 years and the victim hasn’t got the justice yet. Even after the verdict from the district court comes, the culprits will be able to appeal to the higher courts which will again take few years to deliver the verdict due to this huge pendency of cases. And above that, Indian law has a provision where the accused can’t be kept in prison till the trials are being conducted in his or her case in any of the courts. The accused just need a good lawyer and some money to get the bail.
The Voice Raiser feels that along with the lack of judges this three level appeal system is also somehow responsible for the sloppiness of Indian Judiciary System. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. But in our country, the pendency is so much that the justice is being delayed in each and every case. In most of the cases today, the culprit can easily roam freely till his whole life if he has the power of money. I know that these are some serious allegations on our judiciary system, but our own constitution gives us the right to speak against injustice. Asking for improvement in the judiciary system is in no way a disrespect of the court.
So, the real solution to the problem of rapes will be to improve the quality and speed of the justice that is being provided by our courts. Can’t we make sure that the judges at the district level have the credibility equivalent to that of a Supreme Court judge? Can’t we put a limit on the time within which the Judges will have to announce the verdict in each case? The current government has tried to improve the speed of the justice by announcing special fast-track courts in Rape Cases, but even these fast track courts last three to four years in our country because of the huge pendency.
Another concern with yesterday’s ordinance is that the death penalty has been introduced only for the rapes of minors below 12 years of age. There was already a provision of death penalty for the rape of an adult. But what about the minors whose age lies between 12 and 18 years? Isn’t a crime against them equally condemnable?