“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
This quote came to mind when recently, the Supreme Court announced its judgment to commute the death sentence of the prisoners responsible for killing of our former PM Rajiv Gandhi along with sixteen other commoners. On one side, people are rejoicing and feeling that at last, the apex court heard the perils of the prisoners who are languishing in jail since the last two decades; while the others are asking: what about the judgment of those who have been killed and their families which have suffered. This is an endless debate. No one side can justify their cause and hence satisfy another. We all know killing is the most perilous crime and it degrades the virtue of being human. But then death sentence is meant for rarest of the rare cases. You may call this the rarest one where the PM, along with other people who were wounded, was killed. If the death sentence was so compulsory in this case then why did the prisoners have to suffer for so long in jail, which is if not more, but at least equivalent to death sentence? It is an endless wait for the prisoners until the day they stand in front of the rope and take their last breath.
But then, delay is the type of governance we have. We love and embrace it in all forms of government functionaries. Our politicians and babus sit on the file and do not want to take any decision for which they have to answer in the future. It does not matter if it is related to even security of the people or meting out justice. The basic tenant of the Indian constitution which is Right to Life and Liberty is certainly affected in this case. Either you free a prisoner who is found to be non-guilty or you give him the sentence decided by the court at the earliest. This will not only affirm the belief of the people in the Indian system but will give a message to all who take advantage of the slow pace of the judicial system.
As the debate goes on, hopefully this time the government will do the needful, so that the mistake made in this case may not happen in future. This is beneficial for the country as a whole, where Crores of cases are pending in courts and the convicts are waiting for their turn to get justice.
By Hitesh Singh Pundir