Gravity of The Offence And Severe The Punishment
“As you sow, so you reap”. It is apt even in the matters of criminal offences and consequent punishments. The recent judgment of Mumbai High Court in Poojari murder case is an eye-opener. The lessons in Penology always remind us the scope, limitations, expectations not only of the accused, their family members, but also the legal professionals and students with regards to the nature of punishments awarded to them.
The theme of the paper is better understood if the following queries find appropriate replies:-
1. Are the reformists who advocate about the Human Rights vouchsafe the justifiability of the punishments under the present day scenario?
2. How far the hardcore criminals got attuned to the modern theory of restorative justice?
3. Is there any drop in the rate of criminal offences especially rape, sexual offences amounting to murder, culpable death etc. in view of the criticism against retributive punishments?
4. Why in India alone, unlike the neighbouring countries, retributive justice does not find any support or positive thinking despite increase in the crime rate leaps and bounds in the 21st century?
5. Is it not high time that the judicial system needs a relook to rewrite their decisions confining to earlier system of punishments as a sober, lenient view on the offenders is no more warranted?
6. Is it not because of moderate punishments that juvenile delinquency also shot up?
The recent happenings day in day out across the World sent shocking waves to one and all and forcing us to ponder over this alarming issue to find a proper solution to control, curtail, prevent such barbaric and inhuman acts.
The need of the hour is that not only the judiciary but also the authorities’ concerned need to view such an attitude of the criminals seriously and punish them severely sending a clear message that the offenders will not be let off easily.
The focus of this paper is to highlight the need and urgency to reconsider and relook at the increase in the crime rate alarmingly in India, more so in view of the leniency in awarding punishments. Though the retributive punishment theory is old enough, considering the present scenario, a serious thought need to be given to change our minds including the judiciary to revive the same theory unhesitatingly without any second thought for the peaceful and meaningful existence of the people in the society. Although there is a view that it is a primitive type of punishment, the unrepentant, unrealistic, unpardonable attitude of the offenders should undoubtedly force us to change our thinking and positive outlook, which so far have not borne the fruits of our faith, as such the need has arisen again to get back to the old and proven theory of punishment, since the reformative theory of punishment is of no avail.
The advocates of human rights have no convincing answers now to support their views with no iota of change in the minds or deeds of the offenders, who deserve no sympathy at all and need to be dealt with harshly, mercilessly. Even the so called moderates, reformists, social activists who raised their voices against capital punishment find it very difficult, at times to convince themselves to hold such views these days, in view of the ongoings, across the World as any effort made by the judiciary, authorities concerned, psychotherapists, sociologists did not yield fruitful results anymore.
The question before us now is whether the reformist theory can survive anymore, how best the offenders are treated on humanitarian grounds or sympathies showered on them as fellow human beings. Do they still deserve modest treatment? My humble submission is certainly not.
Offence And Punishment
Punishment amounts to physical suffering to the convicted offender. The criminal justice aims at the infliction of punishment as retribution to the offender for the harm done by him or the guilt of the action by him.
The origin of retributive theory of punishment is based on the age old practice or belief of vengeance against the person who caused harm or for wrongful action of such person. It is based on the principle of “evil for evil” or “eye for eye”, “a tooth for tooth” etc. The retributive justice is based upon the fulfillment of moral justice to satisfy the sufferer or members of the family who feel that real justice is done by awarding the punishment to the offender or guilty. It has been said that a peculiar practice is in vougue in some muslim countries where; if a pardon has to be granted to an offender, the consent of the victims or members of his/her family is necessary. The criminal justice system mandates punishment based on the severity of the offence. The pure theory of law of Kensen states “If ‘X’ happened, ‘Y’ ought to happen which means if ‘A’ killed ‘B’, ‘A’ ought to be killed, and the theory of retributive punishment in fact is an offshoot of pure theory of law. It is needless to say that equity of law or the ends of justice shall be met only if the culprits are booked soon without any delay, prosecuted and punished depending on the gravity of the offence as otherwise it amounts to the failure of the administration of justice which no state cannot afford to do, so more so in a democratic state. Criminal justice demands that judiciary needs to carefully and meticulously examine the way the offence was committed, motive of the culprits and assistance of the agencies sought, before awarding the punishment. I am of the firm view that “Harsher the punishment lesser will be the rate of crimes’ and chances of bad blood running in the individuals are reduced and peace and amity will prevail in the society. The recent case of Ayesha’s murder in Andhra Pradesh in year 2007 is an example of set back on criminal justice system, the way the real culprits are let loose and an unconnected , unrelated, innocent person(Syam Babu) was made to serve imprisonment for Seven(7) Years, despite the parents of the victim / deceased stood in support of the accused. What does this case tell us about the role of the Police department or any other agency who tried to mislead the authorities concerned? Does it not amount to the failure of criminal justice system at one stroke?
Can anyone deny the fact that justice has been dispensed with in collusion with influential persons, police departmental higher ups? Is it not true that an attempt is made to shelve the offenders for whatever may be the reason? Does it not amount to hushing up the case by putting an innocent person behind the bars? Whom to blame? Is there no protection, security and safety to a common man in the hands of so called police who are supposed to be the “saviours”? Why no action is taken against the police personnel despite passing the strictures against them and the way they mishandled the whole case only to favour somebody? Why the so called leaders or Human Rights activists remain silent in this matter even after the verdict of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana? There are so many questions that need to be answered. Of course this is not a lone case that has been sidetracked. It is right time for all intellectuals, media, officialdom and dutiful citizen to ponder over this menacing issue and honestly question their conscience as to what does a common man think of criminal justice system.
The recent verdict by the Supreme Court of India in Nirbhaya Case (2012) and also Bombay High Court decision in N.Poojari (2012) (murder of software engineer) in the month of 2017 (both after 5 years of duration) are in full support of the retributive justice; making known to the World that the judiciary is upright and totally against the law breakers and punish them, impartially for their wrongdoings.
These two decisions are indeed eye-openers in reiterating the stand that the offenders should get the punishment that they deserve.
The moral of the day is “No culprit whoever may be, should go unpunished”.