ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Justice or Revenge in ‘Nirbhaya’ Verdict?

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When the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence to four convicts in the 16 December 2012 gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, also known as the Nirbhaya case, the entire visitors’ gallery burst into joyous applause in Court. It was consistent with the unprecedented outrage and indignation that the rape and brutal assault on Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, had provoked across the country. It might have been a rare occasion for the Court to experience such a popular approbation, which reverberated across the length and breadth of the country. The popular sentiment expressed satisfaction that justice had been done, but had it really? Awarding the barbaric punishment of death for the crime of rape and murder is rooted in a similar culture, and qualifies as revenge, not justice. Instead of establishing how the case was the “rarest of rare” by carefully weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors, the Court invoked the phrase “collective conscience” (read, mob mentality) to justify it. There was no consideration of the mitigating factors in the case in terms of convicts’ age, socio-economic background, the possibility of reform, or any such aspect. There was little to no mention of the failures of the police who are responsible for such crimes to a large extent, nor any query about preventive steps. Justice should be necessarily concerned with these issues.

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Updated On : 2nd Jun, 2017

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