After Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana, now Arunachal Pradesh under Chief Minister Pema Khandu has become the 4th state to legislate a death penalty for rape convicts of girl children below 12 years. The decision comes after recent incidents where people resorted to mob justice by dragging and lynching two rapists of a 5 year old who was raped and murdered after being kidnapped.
The Arunachal Pradesh Criminal Amendment bill 2018 was passed unanimously by voice vote in the state assembly, the bill seeks to amend sections 376AA and section 376D of Indian Penal code to include death penalty forrapists of children below 12years. The bill also proposes to introduce harsher punishment for outraging the modesty of a woman by extending the punishment upto a period of 7-10years of imprisonment with heavier penalties by revising existing sections 354, 354B and 354D.
Amidst voices of dissent against a death penalty that often buttress the hypothesis of rehabilitation of the perpetrators of the crime, who believe in molding the social behavior of the society at large as a deterrent against rape instead of capital punishment, the crude reality remains that the sexual crimes against women have only been increasing appallingly in the absence of a stringent and speedy law enforcement system. Today, it is the absence of fear of law or fear of stringent punishments that has led to the rise in crimes. While training the law keepers to be more pro-active and empathetic towards the victims is always a priority it is also essential to strengthen the hands of our law makers along with the law keepers to give them a decisive hand to deal with perpetrators of repulsive crimes like rapes.Our justice system across the nation must be emboldened with stricter legislations to fill the gap between de jure and de facto practices so as to contain the endemic sexual crimes against our womenfolk that have made them to live amidst constant fear and vulnerability. And this fear of vulnerability can be vanquished only when there exists, a formidable iron hand of law and its enforcement that actual protects and not pretends to protect.
Our masses are huge consumers of visual mediums of communication and entertainment, and in this era of internet and widespread freedom and choice for a plethora of unrestricted creative, glamorous and adult content on electronic and digital mediumsthere is hardly any scope for practicing any self-restraint or reflection for any moral or ethical obligation.And in the absence of any such deterrent on the consumption of creative entertainment, the molding of social behavior of the society becomes a challenge especially in a society like ours with people from diverse socio economic, cultural and religious backgrounds, and it is in this context that it becomes all the more imperative for our law enforcers and law makers to establish a stricter deterrent so as to equalize the right of women to live fearlessly.
Most developed countries that have done away with capital punishment for sexual crimes have been able to arrive there only after practicing much more severe legal actions while they gradually set right the social behaviors with one absolute law for all. But in a country like India where we are still grappling to establish one law of the land for all, a heinous and repulsive crime like a rape, especially against a young child who has not blossomed yet,should not be tolerated and cannot be subject to political concessions of subversiveepithets like ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘rehabilitation’. It is precisely here that our justice system should draw a line and reinforce that faith amongst the public who have only been continuously and consistently hearing about instances of obnoxious numbers of sexual crimes against women and children. The mob justice of lynching in Arunachal Pradesh although cannot be justified at the outset, the sentiments of the people should not be lost. It is important to understand the helplessness and outrage of the people who must have resorted to it fearing an ineffective justice system and repulsing a lethargic and long battle for justice.These sentiments are not limited to the victims or their family members alone, it is a mass sentiment of people towards inappropriate punitive system that neither inspires any hope for the masses nor fear among the perpetrators of the crime. And in such a gloomy situation a strong message of deterrence is the need of the hour and one can only sincerely hope that nopolitical correctness of ruling governmentsor the megalomania of humanitarianism takes over the much needed course correction mechanisms in the society.And amidst such encouraging affirmative moves by these four states which hopefully should soon spread to other states, it is really time to shun the obscenity of ‘boys will be boys’ narrative and perhaps introduce some penalties for such loose comments too!