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Who will enforce the Judgments of the Courts

The lone survivor of 26/11 attack, Kasab will face verdict today on what is said to be one of the fastest concluded trails in the country. But as a cynic, I hardly have hopes that the Union of India would do anything proactive to send a message loud and clear to the external enemies of the country who walk-in and walk out of the country with impunity.

India must be one of the few countries in the world where there is absolutely no deterrence for the criminals convicted of crimes, heinous or petty. As it is, we have an overburdened judiciary empowered by archaic laws, giving very poor rate of deliverance of conviction but what remains very very worrisome is the poor rate of enforcement of a convict’s punishment.

A couple of months back the Supreme Court of India made an observation on the indifference of the Central Government to initiate action on the mercy petitions of 26 convicts lying with the president of India. The reason for procrastination by the Government of India, on this subject, defies logic. While the President is within her right to dispose of the mercy petition, the onus of following up these for resolution with the President’s office lies with the Central Government.

More recently, the US had turned down the plea to extradite Headley to India. One doesn’t cease to wonder what would have India done with Headley even if the US had handed over him to us. Today, it would not be out of place to suggest that it’s a common perception in the eyes of an ordinary citizen that being on the wrong side of the law in our country offers no disincentive and is rather seen as an opportunity for those who want to make a career for themselves in Politics. Neither the existing laws are reformist nor punitive to act as a deterrent for the criminal. Right from making an arrest to the final step of getting a conviction, the process of delivering a judgment is tardy and time consuming; not to mention about the corruption, inefficiency and inadequacy of the local police, a subject which requires another debate. Even when the judgments are delivered, the enforcement becomes an issue in most of the cases. Those who finally end up in jails, in most of the case, turn bigger criminals and enjoy the free food, clothing and shelter provided at the expense of tax payer’s money. Most of the prisons have become institutions of higher learning for the petty criminals who graduate into bigger criminals during their time spent in jail.

But the most serious and troublesome lapse is the lackadaisical attitude of the entire establishment going soft over crimes committed against the nation. Look at the case of Afzal Guru. Even the jihadi elements across the border and within India must be laughing all the way to their hideouts when they see a lackadaisical and pussyfooted approach of the Government of India. Its more than 5 years since the man was sentenced to death. Looking at his case, it would be no surprise, if Kasab, even after getting convicted, lives to a ripe old age on the Biryani served by the state of India. The indifference of the Government of the day and all political parties on this matter reflects a hand-in- gloves approach to anti-national and criminal elements of the society. The politics played by the UPA government over Afzal Guru is a case which calls for severe condemnation. By sitting on his case and giving the logic that 20 plus mercy applications are pending before the president’s office is a mere exercise in petty vote bank politics. It’s also an affront to the community whose sensitivity has been used by the government to defer action on Guru. The government should realize that no community in India will shield criminals from conviction as long as due process of law is followed. The President of India is obliged to honor the punishment accorded by the Supreme Court or convert these cases into clemency. Whatever but someone must act either ways and dispose of the cases to their logical conclusion. Before it gets late the nation must sit up and realize that a booming sensex alone will not help and that a robust law enforcement mechanism working to deliver justice remains the most important element for the democratic, economic and social well being of the nation.

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Navin Kumar Batta




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