31st December. 10: 00PM. The police raided a bar and a teenage girl was caught drunk with her boyfriend. Let us see what can happen the next.
The girl is taken to the police station. The officers will make an interrogation . The media representative will click the photographs. A ‘perfect’ news story will be broadcast on the channels next day. The principal of the girl’s school has been already informed. She is suspended from the school .The parents of the girl are in a pitiable condition. The father, bit her in annoyance. The girl committed suicide. This is not the end of the end of the matter .It remains controversial for the days.
Another reaction is different. The girl is called to school. In the meeting room the principal, a few senior teachers, counselors, and a doctor remains present. The parents of the girl are also called The girl is explained the effects of her wrong deed. A few bitter words are more than sufficient to point out how her misconduct can damage her reputation, how gravely she has hurt the parents and school authority! The physician present there can explain the ill effects of the wine on the body. The matter is not wound up here .Everyone present in the meeting gives her a chit, showing some positive qualities in her. She is , thus motivated to develop these elements. The next day she goes to school. Everyone behaves in such a way as if nothing happened. The school and the parents monitor her secretly. It is noticed that she is not involved in such activities again.
Traditional system of justice is victim centered. The Restorative system is criminal centered. The victim is, of course, not ignored .But the most prominent aspect is that the criminal is not humiliated. He can realize his mistake but not degraded. He is given a chance of reconciliation. The movement began in Canada in mid-70s.It minimizes the importance of physical punishment. It is an approach to understand the crime from the culprit’s point of view. The reason behind the popularity of this new way is the partial failure of the conventional method of justice. A large number of organizations have been working throughout the world for this noble purpose. The program has been given the title Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP).They help the criminal to introspect, convince the victim and bring the solution agreeable to both, besiderestoring the financial loss to the victim, the institutes also try to divert the attention of the criminal to the positive activities. They motivate the miscreant for the works to prosper the community.
The approach the restorative system keeps is more comprehensive than the conventional one. It looks at the criminal not only in the terms of definition but also as an average human being whose lawless act cannot be not intentional but incidental. Moreover, the conduction of justice does not remain limited among the court, the victim and the offender, but it also involves other institutes. The event is looked from different angles.
A million dollar question comes now, as far as India is concerned. Who should be prosecuted in the traditional court and who should be proceeded for the restorative punishment? The chance should be given to only those whose criminal acts are accidental .The chance of rehabilitation should be given to those who are ready to accept the blunder they committed. It can be given to those who are ready to pay or recover the damage caused to the victim. The restorative system can be proved meaningless in the case of the terrorists or serial killers. As mentioned earlier this system can be useful only when the criminal accepts his indiscretion.
In our country, the implementation of this system is in primary stage. Acute care should be taken by the government before putting this principle into practice, Otherwise the benefactors of so called human rights always remain ready to raise their flags for the ‘protection’ of every criminal.
By Milind Majumdar