3 Step approach to prevent Rape; for Justice Verma Committee
Posted January 1, 2013on:
Honorable Justice Verma Committee
This is with reference to the invitation for suggestions on amendments to Criminal Laws relating to Safety and Security of Women. I do believe that laws can protect people but I also strongly believe that laws can only protect people from the aggression of that particular offender. So, if the idea is to prevent an incident like Delhi gang rape from happening ever again in the main land of India, IMHO, we need to take a three step approach (not quick-fix workarounds) as listed below; sorted based on priority.
- Strengthen self defense laws so as to make it people-friendly as opposed to governance-friendly.
- Overhaul the criminal justice system to deliver quality judgments on a time bound manner.
- Improve and standardize law enforcement procedures.
Strengthen self defense laws
It is impractical and impossible to give police protection to every single women in this country. Historically, Indian police and law enforcement authorities have been posing the major threat to women. And it is a known fact that nearly 99% of them evade the legal process and go scott free. Any steps towards that path will be doing more harm than even an ounce of good. This is where Gandhiji’s words makes more sense than anything else; “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look back upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” [Autobiography page 446].
All citizens have the natural god given right to self-defense, which is recognised by the Indian Constitution as well as the Indian Penal Code, however this right is meaningless without the right to have the tools of self-defense! Honorable bench of Supreme Court (D.K. Jain, H.L. Dattu) ruled in Sikandar Singh & Ors. vs State Of Bihar on 9 July, 2010
25.It is well settled that the burden of establishing the plea of self defence is on the accused but it is not as onerous as the one that lies on the prosecution. While the prosecution is required to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the accused need not establish the plea of self defence to the hilt and may discharge the onus by showing preponderance of probabilities in favour of that plea on the basis of the material on record. In Vidhya Singh Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh16, this Court had observed that right of self defense should not be construed narrowly because it is a very valuable right and has a social purpose. (Also see: Munshi Ram & Ors. Vs. Delhi Administration17; The State of Gujarat Vs. Bai Fatima & Anr.18 and Salim Zia Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh19.)
The only hindrance to citizen’s right to self defense is now the Government of India. I humbly request the honorable commission to seriously consider urging the government to amend Indian Arms Act 1959 and Arms Policies/Rules in a way that self-defense tools can be made available to the law abiding citizens as easy and cheap as knives and axes. Had any one of those couple who boarded the bus in Delhi carry a fire arm this heinous crime would have never occurred. Just by showing the gun or firing a warning shot could have prevented it, or in worst case scenario they could have injured the offenders if not take their life.
Showing Sandy Hook school shooting for denying this right doesn’t attract any merits because 99% of mass shooting spree in America happened in gun-free zones. (The offenders know that there will be zero resistance!) In Britain as well, when their government imposed a gun ban, crime rate went up 40%. [Handgun crime ‘up’ despite ban – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1440764.stm]
Overhaul the criminal justice system
1) Stop Abuse of The Legal Process. Consider false accusations equally heinous as the allegation itself. (conviction rate of criminal cases are under 30%. 70+% are false or fabricated or have no locus standi)
2) Take perjury as a serious offense and punish the wrong doers so as to reduce the abuse of law and free up the resources.
3) Stop Media Trial that influence and create hindrances in legal process.
4) Multiply the number of courts/benches 100 times (if needed) to deliver time bound verdicts. I believe, Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.
5) Remove hard coded “PRESUMPTIONS” from the statutes and let Judiciary apply its mind. Judging based on presumptions is tantamount to lawlessness!
6) Remove categorical exemptions in the process based on caste, creed and gender.
7) Implement complete judicial reforms including but not limited to make erring judges accountable.
a) Amend criminal procedure code to include trial by jury.
b) Let all courts have division benches rather than trial by single judge, to reduce human errors in making rational decisions. (If supreme court has more than 50000+ pending cases that is a clear indication that our lower courts are delivering crap)
c) Include judiciary in Public Service Commission to SELECT judges based on quality, rather than ELECT/NOMINATE them. If Judiciary is to be kept away from legislative system, then introduce Judicial Service Commission so as to ensure the quality of judges.
d) Implement a perceptual monitoring system similar to PMP in which managers have to undergo several assignments and meet certain criteria to maintain the ‘status’. Those who cannot maintain the ‘status’ should be disqualified to judge other people’s life. This will ensure maintain and improve the quality of judgments.
Improve and standardize law enforcement procedures.
It is time to quarantine the age old unscientific thuggish colonial style of investigation. It is worth imitating the most modern investigation procedures followed by developed countries like sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit, Sexual offense evidence collection (SOEC) kit or Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) kit. This way our law enforcement officers know how to deal with a sexual assault case and what all data/evidences that they need to collect in order to ensure a higher rate of conviction.Such a kit consists of small boxes, microscope slides and plastic bags for collecting and storing evidence such as clothing fibers, hairs, saliva, semen or body fluid, which may help identify the assailant and provide evidence supporting prosecution in a criminal trial.
Although a kit’s contents may vary, it may include:
- Bags and sheets for evidence collection
- Swabs for collecting fluids from the lips, cheeks, thighs, vagina, anus, and buttocks
- Blood collection devices
- Comb used to collect hair and fiber from the victim’s body
- Clear glass slides
- Envelopes for preserving the victim’s clothes, head hair, pubic hair, and blood samples
- Nail pick for scraping debris from beneath the nails
- White sheets to catch physical evidence stripped from the body
- Documentation forms
Most importantly there should be ample amount of forensic labs which should ensure no more than a weeks delay in delivering the results/reports. For fully implementing all the suggestions made above we can raise the funds by abandoning the invasive, tyrannical and illegal UID/Aadhaar project and divert the funds for building the most needed long overdue criminal justice infrastructure in less than 2 years time.