On a day when a large section of parliamentarians expressed appreciation for the encounter killing of the four accused in the gangrape and murder of a Hyderabad veterinarian by police on Friday, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tells The Indian Express that asking for blood is not the function of Parliament.
What do you have to say about the incident in Hyderabad?
Our role to be a society is based on the rule of law. Everyone has been clamouring for justice for the victim of the horrible, heinous crime, but at the same time, justice should come through a judicial process. We don’t know the full details. If it turns out that the police really was facing a risk of violence from the suspected criminals, naturally pre-emptive action on their part may be justified. But as a general principle, it should remain that the guilty must be punished through due process of law, because the law of the jungle cannot prevail in our law enforcement practice.
This is the second instance in Telangana of an instant justice system delivery. Do you think it is a trend now?
We already have toughest rape laws after Nirbhaya (the December 16, 2012 rape case). Sadly, not even that could prevent the incidents. What we also need is a comprehensive policy of prevention, we need to see that our police is strengthened… We need a serious level of gender sensitisation, starting from Class 1. Our boys must understand, not only mothers and goddesses are to be respected, but the girls also. What we needed is a complete prevention approach.
Are you going to raise this in Lok Sabha?
The problem is that everyone who was taking the floor on behalf of their party, including my party, spoke about punitive action. I don’t believe that’s the whole answer.
Do you think lawmakers and enforcement agencies are reacting to mob demands?
I have been very concerned. Even on the Nirbhaya Act, I was unhappy with the amendment to the Juvenile Justice Bill to try people under the age of 18 as adults… I believe that if we look at exceptional cases, we make bad laws… This instant response to the anger of the crowd is not what is supposed to be happening in a deliberative body like Parliament. We have seen it happening too often.
An argument in favour of such quick action is the undue delay in delivering justice.
Many people feel that our justice system is slow, non-efficient and weighed down by procedural delay and very often at the end, not enough punishment is meted out. Because of the popular feeling – whether the people who studied the penology would agree with that, I don’t know – there’s always a cry for blood when a tragedy such as Unnao, Hyderabad and Kathua (rape cases)… Asking for blood, I don’t think, is rightly the function of Parliament and I don’t think that a society based on the rule of law should be overlooking the greater significance of a predictable legal judicial system in our country.