Subhas Chandra Pattanayak speaks on political economy of rape and wrong judicial notion on bail
In the famous Hall of Letters – Sriramachandra Bhawan – Cuttack, the Organisation for the Development of Indian Societies and Human Activities (ODISHA) held on Tuesday evening a debate on necessity of expeditiousness in inflicting condign punishment on perpetrators of rape and/or murder.
Eminent lawyer Sourchandra Mohapatra analyzed existing legal provisions to say that instead of amendment in the existing Laws, change in manners of prosecution need drastic change. The Police, overburdened with multifarious responsibilities of general law and order, should be divested of investigating responsibilities in matter of rape and/or murder, which should be vested in a separate cadre of criminologists with the single mission and specific purpose of reaching the rapist and/or murderer at the quickest possible time. If such a specialized cadre of investigators is created and given autonomous power, both the heinous crimes could be curbed, as prosecution would be precise and timely, he said.
On the issue of condign punishment in rape and/or murder cases, he suggested that instead of death sentence, the minimum punishment should be thirty years of rigorous imprisonment
Former Director General of Orissa Police, Sri Gopal Nand argued against multiplication of law. Creation of new law for quick punishment to perpetrators of rape and/or murder will enhance the load of law when existing laws are so vast that they are not even known in their entirety to the Police. Criminals are escaping punishment through the cleavages as defense takes advantage of multifarious legal provisions and contradictory case laws created by apex judiciary. Regretting that Orissa’s success in prosecution stands lowest in the country at 9.9%, he held the government responsible for this as each and every Police Station is handicapped by serious draught of personnel. Even if online submission of information would lead to compulsory registration thereof, prosecution shall stay stunted because of shortage of manpower in Police set up, he said.
ORISSA MATTERS chief Subhas Chandra Pattanayak called for change in the wrong judicial notion of holding an accused innocent till proved guilty. The criminals are taking advantage of this wrong notion. It should be reversed to holding the accused guilty till proved innocent, he said.
Every offense being bailable at designated levels, said SCP, the concept of bail that keeps the accused bound to the Court till disposal of the case, has its origin in the perception that the accused is guilty till proven innocent. But oblivious of this perception, the Courts are enlarging criminals on bail under the notion that they are innocent till proven guilty, which is helping the culprits to manage prosecution to their own advantage and escape punishment in majority of cases, he pointed out.
As an alternative, he said, when a judge uses his/her discretion to grant bail to an accused, it should be under a stipulated condition that the accused must prove itself ‘not guilty’ of the alleged crime before end of the bail period. Otherwise, the judicial climate shall continue to be congenial to the criminals, notwithstanding stringent laws.
He linked the rise in rape in India to rise in strength of plutocracy. Giving statistics of rape, he showed that ever since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promulgated his capitalist policies, a constant rise in numbers of recorded rapes has overwhelmed the country. The topmost position in wealth accumulation staying unreachable always, capitalism drowns everybody under a feeling of defeat; and people, eager to overcome the feeling of defeat, resort to rape that psychologically gives them a feeling of victory, he argued.
In elaborating how capitalism maddens even top handlers of wealth to perform the heinous crime in pursuit of their latent desire to gain a feeling of victory, he cited the instance of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then the President of International Monetary Fund, who had to be arrested on charges of molesting a hotel maid.
However, there was a feeble rumbling as he cited Brihadaranyak Upanishad to show that even in the earliest stage of empire building, rape was being encouraged by Vedic capitalism.
Justice (Rtd) Choudhury Pratap Keshari Mishra felt that rape is rising as western influence is eclipsing Indian values. While disagreeing with SCP’s suggestion to treat an accused as guilty till not proved innocent, he suggested that for flawless prosecution, the practice of educating witnesses before hearing should be abolished.
With Devi Prasad Nanda introducing the guests, the debate was ushered into business by the Secretary of ODISSA, Advocate Prasanna Kumar Mohapatra, and conducted by its President Sri Ashok Samal. Advocate Chakradhar Behera proposed the vote of thanks.