Legal Essays and Articles

  • Article Posted By: garima6000 Posted on : 4/10/2015 6:04:29 PM

    Why capital punishment doesn’t make sense in Rape cases?

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    According to National Crime Records Bureau, a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Rape is a heinous crime which robs an individual of her dignity and leaves scars in her mind for a long time. The reason why the death penalty should concern all women is because of the increase demanding death for rape that followed the “Nirhaya Rape Case”.

    According to the statement of Supreme Court, capital punishment should be given to the “rarest of rare cases”. The statement is very subjective even though there is a specific clause to the effect of identifying the rarest of the rare crimes. 

    On the death penalty for rape it is worth reading the Justice Verma Committee report, the Committee has argued that introducing the death penalty for rape could lower the conviction rate rather than enhancing it or acting as a deterrent. It has recommended instead, that the punishment should be from a minimum of 10 years to life, with “life imprisonment” redefined to mean the end of the natural life of the convict. It has also pointed out that across the world; the majority of countries have revoked capital punishment.

    Within the existing, and deeply flawed, criminal justice system in India, introducing the death penalty for rape will throw up many more problems than it will solve. We need justice for the victims of rape. But for that we need an efficient criminal justice system that registers cases, that collects evidence and that prosecutes. This is far more important than an extreme form of punishment that might allow judges to pass lenient sentences because they are not convinced that the crime deserves death.

    In fact, punishing someone to simply deter others and not for the individual’s actions is the classic definition of cruelty. As author C.S. Lewis wrote, "If deterrence is all that matters, the execution of an innocent man, provided the public think him guilty, would be fully justified."

    Punishment for crimes against women: Justice Verma Committee opined that death penalty should not be awarded for the offence of rape as there was considerable evidence that death penalty was not deterrence to serious crimes. It recommended life imprisonment for rape.

    “Rapes haven’t stopped since amendments” because we are not sentencing enough rapists and murderers to death. If the determination and efficiency that was shown by our criminal justice system in the Nirbhaya case and the Shakti Mills case became the norm instead of the exception, the number of rapes would come down in India. Strict, swift and guaranteed punishment is not just the best remedy to increasing criminality but also a moral imperative for a civilised and conscientious society.

    Conclusion: Making only stringent laws would not establish the law and order in our Country. But in such special cases government should take strict action against Guilty and set an exapmle for prospective criminals. For this, rather than death penalty, swift arrest and fast track / speedy trail leading to conviction can instill fear of law in guilty. Death penalty cannot be deterrent unless speedy and sure delivery of justice can be ensured. Perpetrators of such inhuman acts do not deserve an scrap of mercy and should be punished in the harshest possible way. Having said that, I don’t think capital punishment for all rapists is the way forward. Capital punishments should be given in the rarest of rare cases where rape is committed in the most barbaric and inhuman manner imaginable.I am in no way suggesting that some rapes are less heinous that others but we have to consider the gravity of the crime before giving punishments.The courts must make sure that the person who committed the crime cannot be integrated into our society in the foreseeable future before giving him the ultimate verdict. As far as rapes and sexual harassment is concerned, I believe fast-track courts should be the way forward. The perpetrators should be punished as soon as possible and such strict and swift implementation of the law will deter future rapists.

    Above all, we need to be a society mature enough to stop blaming the victim. Only when we stop saying, “Don’t get raped” to our females and start saying “Don’t rape” to our males, things will change. 

    References: -

    1. Justice Verma Committee Report (Chapter- Sentencing and Punishment) 
    2. The Hindu Newspaper: Editorial dated February 17, 2013 – Crime & Punishment
    3. Criminal Amendement Act, 2013- Bare Act
    4. Wikipedia for statistics on Rape cases


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