In the din of the Supreme Court verdict upholding 10% Quota for EWS yesterday, a very shocking judgement by the Apex Court bench comprising CJI UU Lalit, Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi literally setting free three men sentenced to death for a very dastardly gang-rape and brutal murder of a young 19 year old girl in Delhi, went completely un-noticed without an uproar.

A young 19-year-old girl was abducted from Delhi’s Chhawla area by three men when she was returning home from work with her three colleagues who lived in her neighbourhood on February 9, 2012. The girl was reportedly working in Gurgaon’s Cyber City area and was returning from her workplace when she was abducted near her home by three men in a red car. The cops found her mutilated and decomposing body four days later on 13th February 2012, in a mustard field 30 km away in the Rodhai village of Rewari district, Haryana. The three men reportedly took turns to gang rape her, poured acid in her eyes and inserted broken pieces of liquor bottle in her private parts. She had been brutally assaulted with various things including car tools and earthen pots. She was left to die by the demonly criminals in the mustard field. A Delhi court convicted the three accused men – Rahul (27), Ravi (23) and Vinod (23) in February 2014 and were awarded the death penalty which was upheld and confirmed by Delhi High Court in August 2014.

The Supreme Court after more than eight long years, brought a devastating end to the fight for justice for the distraught parents of the unfortunate victim by coolly acquitting the three men and setting them free, raising several disturbing questions on the justice delivery system in India. This verdict further brutalised and killed the young girl all over again as the Supreme Court decided that the evidence was not conclusive to prove the guilt of the accused.

The victim’s lawyer, Charu Wali, said the High Court had upheld the death sentence on grounds which included the DNA profiling. She pointed out that the DNA expert who handled this case was the same who had given his expert opinion in the infamous Nirbhaya case too. The lawyer further said that the postmortem report stated that the victim was brutalized even after her death. She said they used a heated spanner to brand her body, even after murdering her.

Needless to say, the Supreme Court judgement is a heartbreaking deathly blow to the parents. Women and child activist, Yogita Bhayana who led the struggle for justice for the victim’s family for a decade is hugely dejected and wondered if such criminals are not handed death penalty who would. 

Diluting of the sentence from capital punishment to life imprisonment in this case would have been a very bad development, a total acquittal and setting free in society such devilish criminals to continue to perpetrate such crimes with impunity makes it as bad as the crime. The outcome of this case only shows that the Nirbhaya case without national outcry and media glare, would have met the same fate as the present case.

The reason for awarding such a baffling judgement overturning a death sentence to acquittal is far more curious. The apex court reportedly said that the trial was vitiated because of ‘glaring lapses’ during the course of trial and 10 material witnesses out of the total 49 witnesses of the prosecution were not cross examined by the defence. It beats logic as to how an accused can make a capital out of his own lapse during trial to claim the trial was not fair. The Supreme Court stated, the trial court acted as a “passive umpire” in this case, when it is supposed to actively question the witnesses to reach conclusions.

This case brings to fore many disturbing questions about the diametrically opposite views of the High Court and Supreme Court on the matter. If the High Court was right in convicting the accused, then they are now let off scot-free after commission of one of the most horrendous crimes. If the conviction was wrong, then the real culprits are freely roaming in society to commit further such crimes without any fear of the law.

Notably, the same bench of Supreme Court comprising the very same judges in this case had in another case in April this year made a bizarre quote from Oscar Wilde’s play, ‘A Woman of No Importance’, that “every sinner has a future” as a justification to quash a death sentence of a Mohammad Firoz who had raped and killed a four-year-old girl child from Madhya Pradesh.

Clearly, the Supreme Court of India seems to have a penchant for nurturing future of rapist murderers rather than give a sense of justice to the families of victims of spine-chilling crimes perpetrated on young girl children and women. 

Or does the lady of justice only shower her benign grace when the victim is a Bilkis Bano hailing from a certain community?

More than ever, such gross judgements only highlight the crying need to abolish the collegium system for appointment of Judges which leads to total nepotism and despotic unaccountability. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is an empty slogan when we not only fail to prevent such brutal crimes from happening but also fail to deliver justice.

Image sourced from internet.