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Head Constable Vilas Shinde's Murder Exposes The Injustices Of Our Legal System

02/09/2016 11:55 AM IST | Updated 02/09/2016 12:16 PM IST
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Mark Manuel

The criminal laws in our country suck. They are as outdated and unrequired today, as the British rule under which most of them were framed in the 19th century. As a result of which our police lack the legal machinery to properly investigate crime, apprehend suspected criminals, collect evidence and establish the guilt or innocence of the accused. The courts are similarly hindered in determining the punishment of the guilty.

My sympathies lie with the Mumbai Police. It lost Head Constable Vilas Shinde of the Traffic Control Branch to an unprovoked and brutal assault in public by a pair of brothers who were only 17 and 20 years old. Shinde was just doing his duty. Now the police, whose emotions understandably run between heartbreak for the dead policeman's family and hate for the killers, are seeking legal opinion if the younger brother can be booked for Shinde's murder as an adult or whether he comes under the protection of the Juvenile Justice Board.

If at 17 a teenager is "man enough" to rape or commit murder, then he should be old enough to take the punishment that comes with such crime.

To my mind, nobody should take anybody else's life unless he is willing to pay for it with his own. And if at 17 a teenager is "man enough" to rape or commit murder, then he should be old enough to take the punishment that comes with such crime. No question about it.

I cannot understand of what use are our fast-track courts if four years after the Nirbhaya gang-rape case shocked the nation, justice has not been done nor seen to be done; not only are the main accused still challenging their death sentence in the Supreme Court, but the juvenile (and, by some accounts, the most brutal) among them was released last December and "rehabilitated" by the state.

Tell me, if your daughter, sister, wife or mother was savagely raped, or if your son, brother, husband or father was brutally murdered, what would you wish to do? Kill the rapists and murderers with you own bare hands, right, and never mind the court's verdict? Me, too. So that must undoubtedly be the mood in the Mumbai Police when Shinde died from his injuries after battling nine days for his life in the ICU. And they have his killers in custody, too; only, they must run from pillar to post to do what is legally right because India is a democracy and lawmen cannot take the law in their own hands. But criminals can. They have no respect for the law, no fear of the police, and they are getting bolder.

India is a democracy and lawmen cannot take the law in their own hands. But criminals can.

India is not the Wild West of 19th century US, which was characterized by lawlessness, but if push came to shove, would you hesitate to take to arms to defend your family and home? I wouldn't. But poor Shinde, he had no chance to defend himself. He must have thought his police uniform gave him all the protection he required. The embers of his funeral pyre have not quite stopped burning, and already there is a move to exploit his murder and politicize the issue. A Shiv Sena MP has criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the party's bigger brother in the Maharashtra government, saying if the Sena had the Home Ministry no goon would have dared to attack a cop. Sanjay Raut, who is also the editor of Saamna, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, said in a direct attack on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who also holds the Home portfolio, "We would have handled these criminals in a different way. A legislation on paper or a chair in Mantralaya is not enough to ward off such thugs. Who occupies that chair is also important."

Hear, hear!

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