- Challenges in Criminal Justice system
Demonising the legal system won’t help
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In a recent Hyderabad rape case, police first turned away the victim’s family when they went to lodge a complaint and claimed that the accused, who were under heavy police protection, tried to escape and had to be killed.
From protesters to the commentary on social media, the demand for the instant killing of the accused from all corners created the public opinion for the abandonment of the rule of law that appears to have led to the incident.
The argument is that the rule of law is not giving women justice, and laws need to be amended to create a stronger deterrent and provide quicker closure to victims of crimes of sexual violence.
However, above argument can be challenged by the fact that (As per National Crime Records Bureau 2017), the chargesheeting rates and conviction rates in cases of rape as well as rape and murder are higher than that for all other violent crimes, while the pendency rates are roughly the same as the average for all violent crimes.
Challenges in Criminal Justice system
There is demand to create new stringent laws against women violence. However, some of the existing legal provisions, against rape crime, are too harsh in ways that harm both men and women, and other important legal provisions are not being implemented.
Even Justice Verma Committee Report recommended to improve the status of women and broadening of the definition of rape. The report also recommended raising the minimum sentence for rape to 10 years.
The 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, introduced the death penalty for some circumstances around rape, including repeat offences, despite the Verma Committee expressly arguing against this. Subsequent laws have raised mandatory minimum sentences and simultaneously raised the age of consent.
There is no legal protection for adult men from rape, and under the new Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, the sexual abuse of a transgender person carries a maximum sentence of two years only.
Longer appeal time
Official statistics on the speed of trials by nature of crime are not maintained. However, average rape trial in a big city at the trial court stage is now completed within two years, but the appellate process takes longer.
False Speedy trial
In the case of powerful accused person, the process of exhausting the individual’s pre-trial options, including attempts to quash charges or shift the trial to a friendlier city, makes a mockery of a fast-track case. Hence, accused should be heard at a speed that maintains the spirit of providing speedy justice to the complainants.
Denying to file an FIR by police, victims still face cross-examination about their past sexual histories; and none or less rehabilitation offered to victims.
There is no doubt that the anguish of people in the aftermath of such horrific rape crimes is justified. However, as hard cases have already made bad law in India, there is still demand for more laws. Instead, there is an urgent need to adopt the principles of justice.