INDIA/SRI LANKA: Gang Rapes, Justice and Civilization in India and Sri Lanka

An incident was reported in December 2019 from India regarding the gang rape of a woman and what happened thereafter. The news of the gang rape stirred up a massive protest from many parts of India. Among those who were involved in the protest were sections of the intelligencia of India such as Professors, doctors, professionals and the like. Also involved in the protest were the journalists. Modern social media networks would also have contributed a great deal to this protest.

As a former postgraduate student from Jawaharlal Nehru University mentioned, “today in India to get any kind of action regarding a crime there has to be an expression of mass outreach.” It happened over and over again that the getting the criminal justice system to work it is not possible anymore to expect that mere making of complains would lead automatically to serious investigations leading to trials before the relevant courts. It would be observed on the basis of so many cases that unless there is some kind of mass agitation and outreach nothing really happens.

Outrage expressed by way of mass protest changes the character of a criminal investigation in to public protest which may affect the politicians in power. Perhaps it was this insight that is being manipulated by the those who directly or in directly influences these mass movements to engage in such protest. Only things that may adversely affect the political order at a given time leads to action seems to be the underlying belief behind such organized expressions of outrage.

However the ultimate outcome of this protest was not the apprehension of the culprits and then bring them before the courts and prosecute them for the offenses they have committed. The investigations in to the gang rape would have exposed the circumstances under which it happened and all the factors and individuals that in fact participants of the crime. Such a criminal investigation is an educative process for the whole society and particularly to women who are in vulnerable positions to know the manner in which such serious crimes take place and what make it possible for such things to happen in the modern circumstances of a powerful country.

However what happened was something very different. It was announced that the four accused were caught and the next thing to hear was that these accused were taken to the crime scene to identify certain things. At the crime scene the suspects attempted to fight back and to escape and that as a result the police shot all the four of them dead. This is not an unfamiliar tale. It has happened over and over again in several of the South Asian countries where after report of serious crimes there are incidents of similar nature having taken place.

Something that happened with the murder of these alleged criminals was that there were mass celebrations in many parts of India about expressing happiness about the murder of these alleged criminals who have supposed to have committed the gang rape. From the point of view of the political order the such celebrations is the kind of affirmation of approval of the manner of punishment for serious crimes such as gang rape. The political establishment has won the day by creating an impression that it will act decisively on issues such as these.

Any intelligent observer would see the sinister nature of these developments. Once the gang rape was reported the duty of the state was to act through its normal agencies and officers to make sure a thorough investigation is carried out in to the crime. The society has a right to know what evidence was available against each of these accused as to regard them as possible culprits of this sinus crime. The basis of judging the guilt of these accused is not emotional outburstbut the actual scientific investigations in to the crime. The Indian police system has enormous experience on dealing with such crimes and also they have the resources necessary for the conduct of such investigations.

The purpose of the investigation is not somehow to pick up some persons as the guilty of the crime and thereafter immediately go in to summary executions. The investigations are primary the means by which the society gets to know about the truth of the allegations and also the truth about the actual involvement of particular persons in the crime. The society is entitled to this knowledge. The state cannot deprive the people of knowing the actual details of how a crime takes place with the information that has been gathered though a proper system of investigation. It is important for the security of the society itself that the investigations are carried out in a manner prescribed by law and that at the stage of the trial to make the knowledge in which the crimes took place to the society as a whole.

What this comes to is the centrality of the right to a fair trial not only in order to maintain a credible system of justice but also to protect civilization. The civilization has to rest on the reason and the belief in truth. Yet punishments are deposed from the exercise of reasonable methods of establishing guilt and when the truth of a matter is forever hidden from the people the civilization itself takes a step backwards. When such steps backward happens over and over again people even lose interest in the whole process of criminal investigations and fair trials.

Crime and punishment under those circumstances are reduced to a triviality. It is a kind of a cynical trick played before the masses in order to create an impression of generating some kind of a basic pleasure rather than in order to prove the truth of what has happened. The truth is a serious exercise engaged by following tested methodologies which ultimately must prove before the people the rationality of what has been concluded. Common sense demands that what is irrational is forced likely is also untrue.

What is revealed by this incident as much as in all kinds of fake investigations and punishment is the generation of the belief that justice and the institutions of justice are unimportant sector in the social life.

Even in seriously degenerated situation like this it is possible for justice to reassert itself. This could be done by first of all at the policing system through its hierarchies to conduct credible investigations in to the whole incident such as the gang rape, as to the involvement of the four suspects as to whether they were the real culprits or whether the actual culprits have been left out in order to create and instant way of creating an impression of having solved a problem.

If the policing system regards the killing of these four by the officers were in fact a legitimate exercise of self defense then that matter should also be first investigated and actual circumstances should be established before coming in to conclusions.

How is it that people who were already in police custody was taken to the scene of the crime as alleged without taking proper precautions to ensure the security of these prisoners as well as security for the officers who are engaged in these operations. Many things should have gone wrong to create such a situation if the story of actual resistance by the four alleged criminals was to be taken seriously at all.

The investigations should proceed on the basis as an investigation to the four murders rather than beginning with the assumption that it was the exercise of self defense that has been happened. Self defense is a defense that can be taken by the suspects at the stage of the trial. It is not for the police to come to a conclusion before the entire issue is thoroughly investigated and the investigation reports are submitted to courts.

Thus ultimately the defense of the system of justice goes back to the courts them self. Under circumstances where circumbing to mass expressions of outrage genuine or fake they may be, is to abandon the civilization itself. Saving the justice system and saving of the civilization itself now rest on the more serious approaches that should be adopted by the police hierarchy and judicial itself.

However, this begs tbe question. It is weaknesses of the system of administration of justice that makes people report of othermeans to get attention, such as expression of mass rage. Hiow could such a system of administration of justice resolve the very problem?

The situation is worst when in the face of allegations of gang rape, every one remain silent and no authority is willing to do anything due to various kinds of pressures and fears. The people having realized that the system cannot be moved to action, think it futile to intervene anyway. This illustrated throught a case reported from Sri Lanka.

A young Chinese woman went to Sri Lanka, with view of staeting a small business. She has reported that she was introduced to a Sothern politician who promised to helpo. However, soon the politician sought sexual favours and finally together with two others gang raped her.

She complaint to the police, but found it difficult to get them to take any action. After much effort, the police filed a case in a magistrate’s court, which issued orders to arrest and produced the suspects. Now, several months passed but the suspect remain at large. She had written to for President, Justice Minster and aAtorney G about het situation and requesting them to ensure her justice. She was written also to several Sri Lankan Diplomatic missions . Report of her incident was reported in Colombo Telegraph and several other publication. But the system of adminstratioin of justice has failed to move.

She has written her story of the failture to get justice and what she has leaned about the system thus:l

“ My case has definitely showed serious Sri Lanka corruption and a failed system. I only need one SIMPLE step, which is to arrest and produce suspects at court. I don’t mind if court grant bail to suspects and have years of trial later. But police simply ignored the judicial procedure. Even senior official at Attorney General office is scared. It’s because the politician is from SLPP and SLPP has huge influence to Sri Lanka and Galle. The election is coming on 16 Nov and SLPP has high opportunity to win. I worried my case will be completely ignored after that because of political influence. It’s not fair to me for the long period of harassment and ignorance.”