Day After Hyderabad Encounter, Editorials Decry ‘Instant Justice’

Here is what the editorial columns of major newspapers had to say about the deaths of the 4 accused in the encounter

5 min read
Hindi Female

Crime as Punishment

Calling the recent encounter killings in Hyderabad, an “anti-democratic spiral”, an op-ed in The Indian Express, notes that “due process and established norms” are being junked in the name of the common man.

With MPs like BJP’s Rajyavardhan Rathore and Jaya Bachchan, among many other political leaders, lauding the unexpected deaths, the editorial notes that the “brazen choreography of events” were a result of a call for execution coming from the well of our Parliament itself.

Calling out the Indian political class for whipping the masses into a “toxic primal anger”, the article goes on to say that regardless of public sentiment and pressure, the guilt of the accused should have stood trial to be judged only in a court of law.

“In the name of the people, the call is going out to junk due process and the established norms by which a civilised society decides to affix guilt and punishment, the checks and balances that stand up to the excesses of power. The many lynching incidents in the last few years have already warned how a corrosive search for the “enemy” is leading to brutal violence, whether against “child-lifters” or “cow smugglers”. Moreover, in an iniquitous society, public outrage is easily gamed when those in the dock are the “others” — the poor and the working class.”
Excerpt from editorial in The Indian Express

Hyderabad’s ‘Instant Justice’ is Shameful, There are Ways Out

Stating that it was “episodic anger” like the kind witnessed in the recent rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad, that tends to “legitimise extra-judicial killings in the face of delayed justice”, Furquan Ameen writes in The Telegraph, that there has been little implementation of the various recommendations put forth by the Justice Verma Committee constituted in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang rape.

Citing statements by various women’s rights activists and lawyers on the lack of will displayed by the government to prevent crimes against women, Ameen details the various recommendations of the Justice Verma committee on things like registering complaints, police reform and the role of the judiciary.

“Ultimately, the committee’s recommendations dealt with a range of issues affecting the police and legal system that hinder speedy trial and the effective delivery of justice. But to what extent have the recommendations been acted upon? Lawyers and activists say not much, pointing out that there has been little effort to ensure a “social and physical infrastructure to prevent crimes against women”, something the Centre and states had been advised to work on.”
Furquan Ameen in The Telegraph

Retributive Justice: On Hyderabad Vet Rape and Murder

This op-ed piece in The Hindu states the claim of the Cyberabad police that they shot dead the four accused in the rape and murder of the vet in Hyderabad in “self-defence”, “stretches credulity” and raises disturbing questions.

The article notes the political sanction that the encounter killings received would disincentivise the cops from following due procedure and such bending of the law to provide ‘justice’ to the kin of the victims, would only work to further undermine the faith of people in the criminal justice and delivery system.

The jubilation seen on social media platforms and on the streets over the killings by the police stems from the public anger and anguish over the burgeoning crimes against women. There is a perception that the legal institutions are ill-equipped to deal with such crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Yet, while much more needs to done in terms of registration and charge-sheeting of sexual crimes by police and addressing the pendency in court of such cases, there has been greater awareness and improvement in both the policing and judicial process following the horrific bus gang-rape in December 2012 in New Delhi.”
Excerpt from editorial in The Hindu

Delay is Deadly: Police Must Register Zero FIRs

This piece in The Times of India highlights the all too well-known struggle faced by many on a daily basis when it comes to having the cops register a police complaint in a timely manner, without dismissing it as being not in their jurisdiction.

Citing the recommendation of the Justice Verma committee that mandates that a zero FIR must be filed in the case of a cognizable offence, which can be transferred later to the correct police station, the article notes that “shooing away aam admi and aurat” is a convenient way for the police machinery to resist change and reform.

It states that the brutal rape and murder in Hyderabad highlights the catastrophe of a delay in registering an FIR when it comes to serious crimes.

“Perhaps not all policemen know about Zero FIRs. But a worse possibility is that shooing away aam admi and aurat is a convenient habit they refuse to change.What is creating a crisis in India today is not the absence of right-minded laws but lack of right-minded implementation. When police tell a desperate complainant in the middle of the night that she should take her plea to the next neighbourhood, it makes a mockery of motto like ‘Freedom from fear forever’. This culture of administrative apathy needs to change.”
Excerpt from editorial in The Times of India

Dead Before Trial: Let’s not Celebrate Encounters

Stating that the explanation offered by the police of the events that led to the deaths of the four accused, this piece in The Times of India notes that it laid bare “the colossal incompetence of the police.”

Going over Telangan’s long history with “infamous encounter killings”, the article states that such knee-jerk reactions to such crimes and the subsequent lauding of the police force revealed terribly disturbing realities. Noting that the grief and disappointment of people awaiting speedy justice by courts is understandable, the op-ed notes that the Constitution and criminal law today ensures that all powers are not vested in one institution.

“Allowing police to play judges and executioners will foster a lynch mob mentality, already discernible in recent hate crimes. Recall the bus driver wrongly paraded as accused by police for murdering an eight-year-old Gurgaon school student. If kneejerk reactions become the norm crimes and injustices will not just proliferate, the latter will also be irreversible. A nationwide systemic overhaul must ensure that all rape trials are fast tracked. Extra-judicial killings are no substitute for diligent policing and a responsive justice system. It is unfortunate that the alleged Hyderabad rapists were killed before their guilt could be proved.”
The Times of India

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