Nirbhaya Verdict – The End or A New Beginning?

On May 5th, The Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for the four convicts – Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh in the Nirbhaya rape case. Another key accused Ram Singh, died in custody. The sixth accused was a juvenile when the crime was committed. Hence, he was sent to a reformatory for a period of three years, the maximum sentence that can be awarded according to the law when the crime was committed.
On an unfortunate night of December 12, 2012 a  23 year old paramedic student was horrendously raped by 6 men in a moving bus and then thrown out of the vehicle along with her male friend. She succumbed to her injuries on December 29th, 2012 in a hospital in Singapore.
This spine-chilling case of rape jolted the entire nation’s conscience. Rape is ghastly and the manner in which this girl was treated termed this case as ‘rarest of the rare’. The girl was termed as ‘Nirbhaya’ – one who is not scared. In immense pain too, she recorded her complete statement of the horrific incident.

There was a major upheaval among the public for more stringent laws to punish the offenders of sexual crimes. There were nation wide protests and candle light march to bring justice to Nirbhaya and to strictly penalise the convicts. This was a case that led to making of and amending many laws pertaining to acts of sex crimes against women. The Nirbhaya Act or the Anti Rape Bill came into existence in 2013.  The new law mandated death penalty or rigorous imprisonment of a minimum term of 20 years which may extend to life, under Section 376 A of the Indian Penal Code for whoever commits rape, which leads to the death of the victim or leaves her to be in a “persistent vegetative state”.

The death penalty inferred by the Supreme Court to Nirbhaya’s offenders is a perfect tribute to her by the Indian Judicial System. It upholds the belief in the judiciary and instills confidence that justice can be delayed but cannot be denied.
The question now is whether this judgement shall act as a deterrent for the offenders of sexual crimes? Will a capital punishment put an end to sex crimes against women? Will the under reporting of sexual violence stop?Will the conviction rates increase? Will the victims of sexual assault be bestowed with the justice they deserve? Will the survivors of sex crimes be treated with respect they deserve and not be subject to public scrutiny? Will the nation be a more safe hub for women to step out without any inhibition or fears?
The day the answers to the above questions are answered, justice shall be granted to the whole of women tribe. The nation celebrates and applauds the capital punishment of the four convicts but one cannot answer that why despite tougher laws, rape continues. Capital punishment can act as an ointment on the grave wounds of Nirbhaya’s parents but can never make up for the loss that not only the convicts but the police and the legal system as a whole has conferred upon them. Had there been strict and stringent laws in place; had the police been vigilant about the crime rates in the society; these crimes wouldn’t have occurred or could have been prevented.
The solution is not just capital punishment but also implementing the judicial acts against sexual violence in place. Every sex crime should be reported by the society as a sexual assault survivor has nothing to be ashamed of. It is she who has been wronged. Today one among four cases see the light at the end of the tunnel of the judgement day. The day each and every case of sexual assault case is subjected to justice in TIME, that day is going to be a Women’s Day in its true sense.

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