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Is the verdict in Delhi gang rape and murder case ethically correct?
Additional session judge of Saket session court in New Delhi, Yogesh Khanna, has given death sentence to all the four adult accused for dastardly diabolical brutal crime of raping and assualting a 23-year old girl in a moving bus in Delhi on 16 December, 2012, which eventually resulted into her death.

All the four accused were found guilty of rape, murder and destruction of evidence by the same fast track session court. There were total of six accused and one had already committed suicide while another one was termed juvenile and got maximum punishment of three years accorded to person of his age as per the existing law of the land.

Summarizing the verdict on guilty, judge Khanna said that the death of the young medico was a direct result of multiple injuries caused to her during her gang-rape by the six accused. He further said that nature of those acts suggested that none of the acts were impulsive instead the manner in which those acts were done clearly established the acts as premeditated and preplanned.

The judge also awarded life imprisonment to the accused for gang rape and criminal conspiracy, fining INR 55,000 each in addition as well.

Normally the rape convicts are not given capital punishment in India. It has not been awarded in the Delhi case as well. But the fact that it was a gang rape, it increased the punishment of each accused. The violence and the brutality shown to the victim and her male friend increased it further. The fact is that the victim was gang raped in public place and therefore, it increased further the intensity of the crime.

Therefore, the maximum sentence of death penalty could have been accorded to the guilty but separating the charges of rape and murder is not correct. The minimum punishment, if all were equal culprits, was to be two life sentences to each for the total crimes.

Now first question that comes to mind is that if the death sentence is awarded to each culprit for murdering the victim then whether it is ethically correct? It may be able to stand high on judicial grounds but not necessarily on moral and ethical ones.

The courts act on rationality and objectivity and not on emotions and populism. Is it correct to award death sentences to four accused for murdering a medico student, more so, when one of the rest had already committed suicide under dubious conditions?

The argument is not to view the sentence awarded from activists’ point of view but from ethical and moral angles. Putting it differently, if the act of brutal rape was not the dominating reason for awarding the capital punishment to the guilty, should five die for causing death of a female? And if the sixth accused were not juvenile he too would have got the same sentence. One versus six, is it correct?

Even though I have never studied law but being somewhat objective person, I find it difficult to understand the rationale behind almost six death penalties for one murder. Why didn’t the session judge say that rape was done in such a brutal manner from all possible angles that it surpassed all indecency existing in Indian society and also that after the eventual death of the victim there was no other option left for the court but to award death sentence to maximum possible number of people?

And if the reports in the media are found to be correct then the judge didn’t distinguish between the persons who raped the medico and those who didn’t. He just insisted that since all participated in the act, all were equally guilty. Why?

Here lies the answer. They forgot the first fundamental law about Indian society that there is not much association with the unprivileged and underprivileged in distress and during hard-times. Almost all would abandon the guilty, including their own family members.

The whole judgment is based on the fact that Indian judiciary would have found it so difficult to give different punishments to different people as not punishing equally would have induced caste-based reactions and in view of the upcoming Assembly elections this year and general elections next year they could prove to be fatal for any party or alliance.

The fact is that the sentence is yet to be confirmed by the High Court. After that the Supreme Court would hear the petition for possible repeal or minimally dilution of sentence, should the defense team takes up the matter to the apex court. If the higher courts confirm the sentence, the convicts could appeal to the President of India for mercy. In all likelihood the higher courts shall confirm the sentence and there is no question of mercy being granted by the honorable President of India.

But the fact remains that this is a selective judgment being delivered because of popular sentiments against that particular case. The justice to rape and other sexual assaults’ victims in India is yet too far away from becoming a broad reality. As of now, Indian system is selective in being fair to the privileged ones and unfair to not so.

The Delhi gang rape victim was even though an ordinary citizen at the time of the incident but she did not remain so thereafter. One should remember that the verdict has been awarded against a crime towards a high-profile public figure; sure, posthumously so. 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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