Sunday, August 27, 2006

Alwar rape case verdict

A fast track court of Rajasthan in a rape case of a German national created a history of some sort and gave a new meaning to the term "speedy justice" when it took only 23 days to announce the verdict of the case, whereby it convicted the accused and sentenced him to seven years in prison. In a similar incident in May 2005, a Jodhpur court just took an astonishing 16 sittings to convict and sentence two men for raping a German woman.
This two decisions will go a long way in reposing the faith of judiciary in the mind of the 'common Indian' citizen or would it be more appropriate to use 'foreign nationals'?
The common and perhaps the most crucial factor that led to the justice being delivered in such a quick time was that the victims in both cases were foreign nationals. The scenario would have been quite different had the victims been Indian national.
The word "prolonged litigation" has stagnated the judiciary to such en extent that even a small petty offence takes year to be decided. Though in the present case the high court taking a suo-motto cognizance of the offence ordered the investigating agency to complete the investigation in one month time, thereby paving the way for a quick investigation, prosecution and judgment. The judicial activism showed by the court was exemplary to say the least, but then why is this "activism" active in some cases only?
In the present case the cops filed the chargesheet in four days, though they had ninety days and the forensic lab too followed suit by submitting its report in four days rather than taking months.
The question that needs to be answered is that why this job-efficiency and determination not practiced in other rape cases or crime?
It was not the first rape case that was to be before the Rajasthan high court and surely it would not be the last. Why isn't the same thrust put on disposing and hearing the rape cases in which the victim is an Indian national?
The reasons for this two-pronged approach are clear. In the present case the victim was a German tourist, and the incident occurred in a state which is heavily dependent on foreign tourism. So it was more than vital for the state government to take a personal interest in the case. Secondly the victim had right people at the right places. All that was required was pulling some strings in the German embassy.
The media too played its part and made sure that the plight of the German woman was felt by everyone. It has once again proved that it has its own idea of what should be covered and what shouldn't be. It seems that the media through all these years of print and electronic journalism has arrived at a position where it can decide which "rape" is to be highlighted and which is not to be. Or else why the rape of a poor village woman is not reported as extensively as this present case was covered?
All this proves that the judiciary, the police and the media have adopted a double standard, which is based on the status of the victim.
No doubt that our judiciary does deserve a pat on the back, for showing that if it wants it can deliver what is expected from it. It has set a precedent which if ideally followed would go a long way in upholding justice. However "double standards" should be done away with. A rape is a rape, a crime which kills a woman before she dies, and differentiating this unpardonable crime on grounds of social status is just not tolerable.


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