Two Cases of Gang Violation and Murder That Ended in Death but in Different Ways; Which Is the Better Option?
The two cases
In 2012 a gruesome crime took place in the capital Delhi. A 26-year-old young physiotherapist along with her friend got into a bus to travel to their destination. The time was 8 p.m. Including the driver there were six men on the bus. They decided on a fiendish plan to violate the girl. They started by badly beating up the young man and then attacked the girl. They subjected her to torture and rape and even an iron rod was thrust inside her. After some time the duo was thrown out of the moving bus and left to die. Fortunately, a Police patrol jeep picked up the girl and her friend and took them to hospital
The girl was badly injured but she gave an account of the crime to the police and the place where it has taken place. The police examined the area and found that it is covered by a surveillance camera. After a study of the video recording, the police were able to identify the registration number of the bus and within 2 hours the police tracked the owner of the bus and six-men who were all employees of the bus owner. In a matter of hours, all the six were arrested. It was a great piece of detection and even the home secretary commended the police for tracking the bus and its crew.
The brutal violation of the girl galvanized the people and young men and women in Delhi and all over India began demonstrating against the law and order situation in Delhi and the safety of women. Subsequently, the then Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi also visited the hospital and seeing her condition gave orders for her transportation to Singapore for treatment. Despite this, the girl died and all the six men were charged with rape and murder under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Out of the six accused one was identified as a juvenile as he was 17 years and 6 months old and as per Indian law, he was tried under separate law and given 3 years correction and escaped the noose. The trial and subsequent procedure of review, appeal, and hearing in the Supreme Court as well as repeated mercy petitions continued for 8 years. The last appeal was heard on 20 March this year and rejected by the Supreme Court. Finally, on 21st March 2020, the 4 men were hanged to death. One of the accused had committed suicide in jail about 3 years back.
A similar scenario occurred in Shamshabad near Hyderabad in November 2019. In this case, a 27-year-old young veterinary doctor while going home on her scooter was stopped on the road by four-man and taken to a nearby jungle and repeatedly violated. After the act, she was killed brutally with a stone and her body burnt so that nobody could recognize her. Her body was found at Shadnagar nearby on 28 November, the day after she was murdered. The police were able to get hold of a clue and identified the veterinary doctor and began investigations. After examining the footage from the installed CCTV cameras the were able to lay their hands on 4 men who after interrogation confessed to the crime.
The case attracted a lot of attention and the Chief minister promulgated a fast track court to try the accused. The rape and arrest elicited outrage in several parts of the country. The family of the victim was not happy. What happened next looks like an episode from a book by Mickey Spillane the master writer.
10 policemen took the 4 accused to the same spot where they had committed the crime. The ostensible purpose was to reconstruct the crime and recover the mobile phone of the girl. As per the police version, the four men attacked the police and in the melee, they were shot dead.
The killing of the suspects drew widespread support in India, where faith in the criminal justice system is low.
In the Delhi rape and murder case, the trial lasted for 6 years and after that, the court passed the death sentence on the accused. One of the accused had already committed suicide and the other was not tried as he was a juvenile. The trial and procedure of appeal to the High Court and Supreme Court further delayed the execution. This continued for 2 years. Finally, the accused as per the Indian Constitution applied for pardon to the president.
Most lawyers refused to represent the accused except for one lawyer called A K Singh who repeatedly continued to file appeals again and again. The result was the hanging had to be postponed three times because of the review applications. This delay in execution was agitating the public and even the mother of the girl commented that this delay in execution will send a wrong message to other criminals. Finally, on 20th March the accused lawyer was looking for ways to stop the execution and was thinking of approaching the International Court of justice. The SC finally rejected the last petition and all 4 were hanged at 0530 on 21st.
The four convicts were taken to the gallows by force and hanged together by the Hangman who received Rupees 20000 for his work. The Hangman, when questioned about how he felt about the hanging, said that it has been delayed too long and he was happy to send the criminals to hell.
The moment the men were hanged, jubilation broke out all over India and people who had gathered outside Tihar jail distributed sweets.
In the second case, the police chief carried out what he had done earlier. He is a man with a strong reputation and it was definitely on his orders that these four rapists in Hyderabad were taken to the same spot and shot dead. The moment the news of the killing came out, girls and women came on the street and garlanded the police and many young women tied the Rakhi which is a Hindu custom of tying a thread by the sister to the brother as a mark of respect. The public was extremely happy that these four criminals have been killed and not allowed to go for trial which would continue for years. Wheather in such crimes, the second option is better or the earlier option of a judicial trial is open for discussion.
Recently in a discussion in the Singapore club, this topic came up. Many of those present were of the view that Police in Hyderabad did the right thing. Many felt that the type of judicial system prevalent in India it takes years and years for a case to be decided. They felt the trials are indefinitely delayed. The Supreme Court has even set aside the death sentences after stating that the individual has been too long on death row.
in the second case, it is summary justice and the people are happy. As things stand the rule of law must be followed but so also the will of the people. Indian judicial system which is inherited from the British is greatly antiquated and calls for a speedy trial and disposal of cases.
Even in the United States sometimes the execution stayed. I member reading about the famous case of Caryl Chessman, the Red Light Bandit who raped many girls and women. He was on death row for almost 15 years and while in jail also wrote 4 books.
Crimes against women in India are on the increase and until summary justice is not meted these crimes may continue Delhi has come to be known as the rape capital of the world. It was imperative that the four men who were hanged on 21st should have been executed years earlier. No wonder the people celebrated the killing of the 4 rapists in Hyderabad. Where does one draw the line?