Crime and Punishment

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Opinions

Ignorance is seldom bliss. Not in cases, where retribution is harsh and where people have become victims of their own ignorance.

Not in this case, for sure either. A young student and his accomplice will do time in prison for some five and three years each now.  For a crime they probably had no idea of. Had the student known and foregone having sex with his girl friend, who is a minor, perhaps, he would not had faced the law in its cruelest form.

But the law is clear. Even if it is consensual sex with a minor, it is still a statutory rape.

At one hand, the problem is not with the law or the justice system. It is with ignorance of the people and their lack of understanding of the prevailing laws of the land.  Yes, if that student had gone ahead despite his knowledge of the law, he deserves to be punished. And if the student had committed the crime, without an inkling of the consequences, yet the law must punish him.

On the other hand, there is actually no humanity in the justice system. What is wrong must be punished. Those wronged must be given justice. Criminals must be brought to the book. It is all fair and square.

But subtle ambivalence does exist, in diverse forms. For example, in villages and rural pockets, the tradition of marrying off girls in their early teens is still alive. This is usually unusual but true. The matrimony is in defiance of this very tenet of the law – even if it is consensual marriage of convenience – this is still a punishable crime.

The essence of the law is the same. Yet, it manifests differently, at different times. We have seen our own share of amusing verdicts passed by the courts in recent times.

A man charged with siphoning off money worth a few millions is sentenced to some hundred years of imprisonment. While the very judicial system sentences another man for embezzling more money for some 10 years in jail. A gang rapist of an old woman gets a lenient sentence than a man who is convicted for corruption.

These are some incongruent aspects of the law. Perhaps, we may not understand the gentle nuances and complexities of the legal system. But again, what is up front and apparent cannot be sidelined. Already there are misconceptions that the judiciary is a two tiered system – one for the poor and other for the rich and the powerful. This may not be true with the Judiciary but the perception is.

The Judiciary has to prove this perception wrong. In a marketing terminology, the Judiciary will need to do some re-branding about its image. It needs to  sell the idea that Judiciary is a true ambassador of justice and truth. And gain the confidence of the people.


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