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

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Ethos of Justice and Its Adversaries

Rape atrocities tragically suggest that justice is in dire need of egalitarian commitment by every citizen.

Handing over the Hathras rape atrocity case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to proceed with the investigation indirectly questions the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police’s rationality to pursue the case without prejudice. Further, it has been suggested to bring even the CBI inquiry under the supervision of the Supreme Court. The role of police is seen as complementing the partisan position taken by the local Savarnas whose response seems to favour the accused. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has been more categorical in expressing its reservation about the role of the UP police in (mis)handling the Hathras rape case of a Dalit woman. According to media reports, the parents of the deceased have accused the police of being soft on the Savarna castes. As was evident from the television reporting, some of the Savarna members went ahead with conducting a mass meeting in support of the accused in the case, thus violating the law and order situation in the vicinity. In this regard, what is more astonishing is the discriminatory response that the members of the Savarna community seem to have offered not in favour of the victim but in defence of the accused. The response is more shocking on two counts: ethical and legal. Ethical conviction, if not compulsion, is necessary particularly for a sentient human being to at least refrain from siding with the accused if not expressing grief over the loss of a human being. It is not the benumbing brutal rape that has emotionalising impact on the Savarna consciousness, but what rules such consciousness is the caste affinity that suddenly jumps out of the Savarna skin.

What is at issue here is the caste consciousness that trumps both moral and legal consciousness. Caste consciousness weighs heavily on the moral judgment of some the members of the Savarna community, thus making the latter both indifferent and insensitive to the tragedy inflicted on the victim. An ethical initiative taken by the sentient being helps in motivating such a being to actively side with the victim. If this initiative, for subjective reasons overburdened by caste consciousness, finds it difficult to come forth, then one expects the members from Savarna community to respect the judicial system that as a common good is also available to the Savarnas. So, it is in the interest of the Savarnas to be law-abiding citizens to at least side with legal procedures. This does not seem to have happened in the Hathras rape case.

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Updated On : 20th Oct, 2020

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