Crime & Punishment

The verdict on the Delhi Gang Rape case is out. The convicted party was a juvenile at the time of the crime,just five months short of his 18th birthday.In less than three years at a reform center he will lead a free independent life. The crime he committed was the most gruesome. He not only raped the victim twice,injected an iron rod and assaulted her and removed her intestines with his bare hands.

Anger,outrage,shock and disbelief was the overwhelming response from the public. The gruesome-ness of the crime ,screams for a harsh punishment – if not hanged till death at least a life sentence is what was most warranted.But that was not to be.The job of the judiciary was to stay objective and perhaps they thought that the “gruesomeness” of the crime  does not equal the harshness of punishment.

It also asks a fundamental question : do we as a society believe that people don’t change ever ? Once a criminal always a criminal? If this a unanimous belief, then why do we have separate yardsticks for other crimes like domestic violence or corruption ? Once a corrupt politician – will always be a corrupt politician – he will never change. So why allow him to run our country ? Once an abusive husband  – will always be abusive – why let him be your husband?

Yet we are strikingly tolerant  when the perpetrator is someone known. Why this dichotomy? Why this duality?  Wy can’t you put your foot down every single time there is a crime committed? Because at the root of it – most of us dont believe in the system,or its justice or its accountability. Until shit hits the fan and we are at the brink of destruction we don’t learn.

The Mumbai gang rape perpetrators perhaps saw the Delhi gang rape case unfold on television. But did it deter them ? No. Between last December and now there have no reduction in crime rates. What does this tell you? That no matter what the agitation or the outcome – criminals will be criminals – and they will not change. So the question is why have them around once they convicted?

If the country as a whole believes people don’t change wonder what the judiciary is really trying to defend here? Its time to rethink about what stand do we take as a person. We cannot condemn a criminal we don’t know personally on one hand and be tolerant about someone we know in our own homes.The crime  and punishment have to correlate simply because a crime is ageless and independent of proximity to the criminal.





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