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Crime and Punishment

The courts need to adopt consistent criteria for handing out the death penalty.

Three recent judgments on gang rape delivered this month, together and separately, demonstrate how the judiciary’s approach to the death penalty is inconsistent. It is unclear how it decides which case is the “rarest of the rare” deserving capital punishment.

Of the three, the case that took the longest is that of Bilkis Bano from Radhikpur village in Gujarat. On 3 March 2002, Bilkis, then 19 and pregnant, was gang-raped by a mob of Hindus from her village and left for dead. Her infant daughter was killed before her eyes. Fourteen members of her family were slaughtered. ­After this horrifying ordeal, when she gained consciousness, Bilkis managed to make her way to a police station to record her complaint. The policeman on duty refused to register her first information report (FIR). It took her 15 days of persistence to file an FIR. Even then, the police deliberately ignored the precise details, including the names of the men who raped her and killed her family members that she had given. Not surprisingly, the case was thrown out in the magistrate’s court.

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Updated On : 27th Aug, 2017

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