This post has been written by Drishti Mehra, a student pursuing a B.A, LL.B. from Amity Law School, Noida.
A number of rape cases in India in the past few months have put a spotlight on the issue of gender-based attacks in the country. Experts say deep-seated patriarchy has created a “second-class” status for women in India, in the brutal rape case of Priyanka Reddy has raised similar concerns as after the Nirbhaya case of 2012 and it shocked the whole nation with this amount of brutality prevalent in the human race and it created a horrifying atmosphere not only for women but the whole society. Even after the major criminal amendments in Section 375 of the IPC which came in 2013 for rape cases, this incident left the entire community startled and some serious concerns were raised, is India really a safe place to reside for women or for them go out alone in the streets? With various marches, online strikes, dissatisfaction was portrayed towards the slow judicial system but more importantly the lack of awareness of these kinds of crimes amongst the people.
The four men who were allegedly accused of the rape and murder of Priyanka by setting the body on fire, humungous amount of insensitivity was seen as her remains were dumped by the accused 25 km away from the scene. She was minding her own business, going to pick her scooter from the plaza, and faced a death we wish on no one. On the very same day, they were caught and arrested by the Hyderabad police. Eight days later when they were taken to the crime scene to reconstruct it at around 5 a.m in the morning, they tried to attack the police officials and run away but it resulted in the encounter of one the four accused and the news broke around 6.30 a.m in the morning. When this case took place everyone in the nation was hoping of the outcome similar to this one but everyone analyzed this encounter as in the first place the feeling of helplessness, anger, fear, and restlessness were altogether mixed up among the women of the country. As this was the ideal outcome but still the people were divided and the question that was justice really served was raised.
As the first thought in everyone’s mind was that they deserve this punishment rather than being in a jail cell and going to courts for their trial which would take years for the justice to be delivered and with no guarantee as to if the justice will be given to Priyanka or not. The same happened in Nirbhaya’s case but back then everyone believed that this is really the right thing to do by giving them a peaceful death and not feeling of shame, guilt and maybe the consequence that they could have suffered more and people would’ve trusted more the judicial system of the country. After the Nirbhaya case, the police was under immense pressure as once again the people of India were united against this brutality, it was sure that change was around the corner by the formation of strict laws in our judicial system but by encountering them they received a merciful death and the other half of the people were of the view that if seen legally this encounter was illegal and no one can take law in their own hands, there should be enough trust on the judicial system of India.
As many people were in dilemma what was right or not, the judiciary and National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) were of the opposite view of this encounter as it was reported that all the accused were taken to the crime scene and if one of them signaled others to escape and tried to snatch the police weapons and then the police started firing which resulted in their death. NHRC took the Suo-moto rite of sending the investigation team at the crime scene for further investigation who would prepare a detailed report. As the commission was of the view that persons arrested for this heinous crime were only accused and not yet convicted by the competent court and if they were proven guilty then punished according to the punishments prescribed in law, the commission was of the opinion that by encounter killing the wrong message will be delivered to people and their trust from judiciary would be revoked. The same view was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India as two PIL’s were moved by the advocates GS Mani and Pradeep Kumar Yadav and another by ML Sharma who registered an objection to the extrajudicial killing of the accused who had not proven guilty and in PIL of other two advocates they filed police has taken law into their own hands and did the encounter without conducting the proper investigation, they added that by this fake encounter killing the reaction of the public was diverted over this rape and murder case. No one has the right to take law in their own hands even if it is the police, the court alone by following the procedure can punish the accused if proven guilty.
As concluding the topic, brutality seen in this case was tremendous and people like these rapists don’t deserve to live one more day and they are the greatest threat to women’s security. Among the people of India different emotions of anger, helplessness, fear, and restlessness were there and despite the Nirbhaya’s case process of justice and it’s a delay to deliver the justice people were still having hopes from the judicial system of the country, unlike in this case the accused were killed in an encounter by the police officials of Hyderabad. Considering the situation emotionally it was the correct step taken by the officials and the accused deserved for their sin.
Similarly, according to the law, there was no right given to any authority even though the most powerful investigating authority i.e. police, had no right to encounter the accused then and there as they were not proven guilty by any competent court. People may have different emotions regarding this case but it doesn’t change the fact that only the court following the procedure can give justice, by this kind of action the wrong message will be delivered in society and would encourage people to go this way despite trusting the judiciary.
In my opinion, the act done by the Hyderabad police was a complete misuse of the authority and taking justice into their own hands. Under the circumstances, the situation was understandable of tremendous pressure from the public after Nirbhaya’s case but acting illegally was not the solution, police officials may be the heroes of the society who punished the accused but they were accused of the gruesome crime and not convicted by any court. Although there is no speedy justice and many loopholes are available there but trusting the judiciary and courts is what the best option available otherwise people would forget the difference between right or wrong and by this kind of action every other man will try to seek justice on their own.
Image from here