Priyadarshini Mattoor Case Verdict- Some Random Thoughts on the Apex Court’s Verdict - By Saritha Thonoor

Deterrent Theory or Retributive Theory - Which should be choosen for a rapist?
Recently the Apex Court in the controversial “Priyadarshini Mattoo Murder Case” has commuted the death sentence of Priyadarshini’s murderer, to life sentence.
The Court said “The appellant was a young man of 24 at the time of the incident and, after acquittal, had got married and was the father of a girl child. Undoubtedly, also the appellant would have had time for reflection over the events of the last fifteen years, and to ponder over the predicament that he now faces, the reality that his father died a year after his conviction and the prospect of a dismal future for his young family. On the contrary, there is nothing to suggest that he would not be capable of reform. There are extremely aggravating circumstances as well. In particular we notice the tendency of parents to be over indulgent to their progeny often resulting in the most horrendous of situations. These situations are exacerbated when an accused belongs to a category with unlimited power or pelf or even more dangerously, a volatile and heady cocktail of the two. The reality that such a class does exist is for all to see and is evidenced by regular and alarming incidents such as the present one. Nevertheless, to our mind, the balance sheet tilts marginally in favour of the appellant, and the ends of justice would be met if the sentence awarded to him is commuted from death to life imprisonment under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.”
Criminal law has traditionally been taught and analysed as if the gender of criminals and their victims is irrelevant. The fact that appellant has married after committing the crime and has got a child under that marriage, is it a reason for commuting the death sentence; especially in this case as the appellant had tortured the victim many times despite of various warnings and the victim was even under police protection fearing an attack from the appellant. The appellant has brutally raped and murdered a lady legal luminary in the making, will the commutation of his death sentence encourage other rapists in this nation? Proponents of the reformative theory itself accepts that the theory doesn’t work in case of hard-core criminals, isn’t Priyadarshini’s murderer a hard core criminal? Does not parents of Priydarshini have a right to see to it that the murderer of their child gets appropriate punishment or does that fade away on the appellant’s marriage and subsequent birth of a child under that marriage?
Is our Apex Court going to a point from where it cannot be saved ???

4 comments: (+add yours?)

Raghul Sudheesh said...

This post reminds me of the open letter written to the then Chief Justice of India after the pronouncement of verdict in the Mathura rape case. Good Work Saritha !!

Leo said...

It is said that the Laws and Rules are meant for a "Civilised Society,” to keep the "Civilisation Alive.” Though a little old, we still have some of the best laws (not the ones used by the Brits but by successive amends).
Today, in any part of the world, if you have money, you for sure know the politicians who are high and mighty. The guardians of the laws wag their tail at your sight, they work for you and then you have the power not to bend or twist the laws and rules but to break them as and when you wish.
You become too civilised and you do not require the laws then. In India too this is no exception, may be you could do a little more... Do you need proofs - well, then Ruchika, Jasica Lal, Nitish Katara, the rapist son of an Orissa IG (I think he still is a fugitive sorry, feels he is above law), Telgi, the (caught) gangsters, and the list goes on and on... (am very sure the list is going to be quite long in the near future). Even if you are convicted under pressure, there are your friends in the government to help you with long paroles, treatment outside jails, visiting sick relations in your family, etc). These are just a few cases what you get to at least read and hear because they have somebody though a little weak in the society to carry the fight forward. What about the innumerable ordinary people in our society even the Gods are unwilling to help?
Take another scenario, Ajmal Kasab, he is a terrorist caught alive. Do you know that he is the safest human being alive on the face of this earth?
Why is the tax payers' money wasted on these criminals to keep them alive? Why is it that these criminals are given only a life (Except Ajmal Kasab) when they do not deserve to survive even for an iota of a second? Why is the law so lax and weak on inhuman criminals who are devils? The answer is my opening sentence, isn’t it, or could be the second paragraph? Convicting them with just life sentence after all possible delays is like awarding them with some civilian honours of our country.
Hopefully, I'll not be punished for asking these questions. If you ask questions you are a culprit and a potential threat to the society.
It is time for us to wake up and wake up the society as well to be more civilised (if not civilised).

Leo said...

It is said that the Laws and Rules are meant for a "Civilised Society,” to keep the "Civilisation Alive.” Though a little old, we still have some of the best laws (not the ones used by the Brits but by successive amends).
Today, in any part of the world, if you have money, you for sure know the politicians who are high and mighty. The guardians of the laws wag their tail at your sight, they work for you and then you have the power not to bend or twist the laws and rules but to break them as and when you wish.
You become too civilised and you do not require the laws then. In India too this is no exception, may be you could do a little more... Do you need proofs - well, then Ruchika, Jasica Lal, Nitish Katara, the rapist son of an Orissa IG (I think he still is a fugitive sorry, feels he is above law), Telgi, the (caught) gangsters, and the list goes on and on... (am very sure the list is going to be quite long in the near future). Even if you are convicted under pressure, there are your friends in the government to help you with long paroles, treatment outside jails, visiting sick relations in your family, etc). These are just a few cases what you get to at least read and hear because they have somebody though a little weak in the society to carry the fight forward. What about the innumerable ordinary people in our society even the Gods are unwilling to help?
Take another scenario, Ajmal Kasab, he is a terrorist caught alive. Do you know that he is the safest human being alive on the face of this earth?
Why is the tax payers' money wasted on these criminals to keep them alive? Why is it that these criminals are given only a life (Except Ajmal Kasab) when they do not deserve to survive even for an iota of a second? Why is the law so lax and weak on inhuman criminals who are devils? The answer is my opening sentence, isn’t it, or could be the second paragraph? Convicting them with just life sentence after all possible delays is like awarding them with some civilian honours of our country.
Hopefully, I'll not be punished for asking these questions. If you ask questions you are a culprit and a potential threat to the society.
It is time for us to wake up and wake up the society as well to be more civilised (if not civilised).

J S said...

Hmm.. Though the topic is a bit old, i thought i should comment on this (which are purely subjective) - for two reasons; 1. That this issues is bound to arise in future cases and 2. I started reading these posts only very lately..

I should disagree with the author on the fact that the writing proceeds on the basis that either of the theories of retribution or deterrance is to be accepted while awarding sentences in criminal cases. Probably as all of us are aware, the concept of penology / penal justice is essentially founded upon three theories - the retributive, deterrent and rehabilitative theories.. All these theories are essentially trying to view the same thing from different perspecitves.. The retribution from the view point of the victim, deterrence from the view point of the society and rehabilitation from the view point of the accused.. All these theories are like different religions, the ulitamte aim of which is one - God in case of relition and Social Harmony in case of these theories.

The option is left to the court.. Which theory is to be applied hence depends on a whole lot of issues.. But i would never suggest that any one of these theories are to be followed. What a good judge has to look at is the possible way to balance all these theories.

I also dont find any force (purely subjective) in arguing that when the victim falls within the feminine gender, the gravity of the punishment should increase... Male or female victim, the punishment should depend on the accused - whether he is amenable to correction, should depend on the society - whether the society can prevent such crimes in the future and ulitmately should depend on the victim's mental trauma - whether the punishment is sufficient retribution to the mental trauma.. These have to be in the best proportion, and should not over weigh each others..

Regards..

Jayashankar

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