Saturday, 2 January 2010

Justice has to be just

Now there is a Facebook group called Justice for Ruchika. I got invites but am not planning to join. It’s not that I am not angered by the piffling conviction that S P S Rathore got. No woman who has traveled in a Delhi bus will feel differently.

But I am not joining the group for two reasons. One, I feel such groups are no different from meaningless candlelight vigils about which I have written earlier.
More importantly, I am just not comfortable with all that is happening now.

Slapping new charges, filing fresh FIRs (which eminent legal experts like Ram Jethmalani and K T S Tulsi have criticized) is perhaps not the best way of going about getting justice for Ruchika.

The right way to go about it would have been to pressure the CBI to appeal the verdict in a higher court and press for a longer sentence there, which is what happened in the Jessica Lal case, and making sure that the arguments are watertight.

Take the new charges of abetment to suicide. That seems to be on very weak ground. Apparently this had been dismissed by the high court and Supreme Court earlier. The CBI officer who had headed the probe has clearly said that the charge was weak even then because Ruchika had committed suicide three years after the molestation incident and left no suicide note. So on what basis are charges of abetment to suicide be framed and made to stick? Am not sure if abetment to suicide charges can be levied only by relatives saying so or whether it requires a suicide note. I would like to be educated about this.

The immediate rejoinder to that will be that the CBI official was protecting Rathore. Maybe. But that charge can stick only if the officer deliberately overlooked or destroyed strong evidence of abetment to suicide. There is nothing right now to suggest that.

There is unhappiness over the fact that Rathore has got interim anticipatory bail and I heard Anand Parkash saying on television that this shows the system is still trying to shield Rathore. Now this is clearly unfair. Giving bail to someone on a bailable offence is hardly an attempt to shield that person.

The initial outrage over the laughable six months that Rathore got has now snowballed into something uncontrollable and often ridiculous. The Indian Express had an editorial, Call off the mob, which highlights the danger of letting public outrage dictate justice. The points it makes are very valid. The topic of NDTV’s Big Fight programme is going to be “Is media trial the only way to get justice”. This is, quite simply, appalling. There can be no justification for the media arrogating to itself the role of judges.

Like I wrote in the end of my post on the media behaviour in this case on my other blog, the travesty of justice which happened should not become an excuse for vigilante justice.

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