It’s taken almost 5 years. On 16th December 2012, a young girl lost her life when she was subjected to a brutal rape attack, an attack that shook the nation’s conscience and jolted it out of its apathy, albeit fleetingly. There were cries of shock and horror, followed by protests, candle-lit vigils and demand for action. Government funds for women’s safety and an emergency distress call number were hurriedly set up. And yet, justice evaded Nirbhaya, despite the 5 accused (the 6th person was put to trial as per the juvenile act ) being given death sentence by a fast-track court and was upheld by the Delhi High Court.
It has taken 5 long and painful years for our judiciary to give this judgment – in a case which was so public and almost a landmark (though unfortunately not solitary) incident, which removed all myths about women’s safety in India ; a case which was so clear in terms of facts, a case which was so resounding in terms of its impact on our collective national conscience, a case where the victim had a dying statement recorded clearly, the police was supportive and committed to resolving it. There were few cases which have all these elements in place. And yet, the judgment took 5 years.
Yes, it is a judgment which we can hope will deter such crimes against women in every possible way. We must applaud that every single court of law, across all levels in this country, has remained consistent in their judgment.
But we must reflect and ask ourselves as well as the legal system this question – What does it say about our legal system when justice comes so late in a case so crystal clear? What hope do the lesser known cases – which might be as heinous in our rural heartlands, our bustling cities or even our ‘secure’ homes, have?
Sexual violence and gender injustice is so deep-rooted into our system. The only recourse left for someone who has gone through that is to reach out to the law. But when law takes such a long time to give justice, sometimes the apathy that the nation was shook out of , settles back in.
A swifter judgment has higher impact – not only on those who were shaken by the brutality, but also on those who committed it.
Justice delayed is justice denied goes a popular maxim, and it’s true. If a judgement comes late, it comes at the cost of faith in the judiciary. We need quicker punitive action – only then will women be safe in this country.
By Simran Oberoi
Simran Oberoi is an independent HR Consultant in Bangalore, with HR Advisory, Knowledge Development and Research expertise of over 13 years, in Rewards & Compensation, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Development, HR & Social Media. She has worked with consulting firms like Hay Group, Aon Hewitt and PricewaterhouseCoopers in the past, in India as well as Asia-Pacific leadership roles. Simran is also a keen baker – you can find her recipes at https://ovenderfulhealthybaking.wordpress.com/