Not Honour, Your Honour

In past few days two Supreme Court statements got me thinking. First was when SC asked the center to “legalize prostitutions [as] they can’t curb it” (link). Right steps, wrong justification?

I mean, by that logic, we should legalize female foeticide, terrorism, dowry related killings/tourture, domestic violence — basically all major crime.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not subscribe to a view that prostitution is a crime. I would strongly welcome legalization of prostitution on more principled grounds: activities between consenting adults should be outside the control of state, when no one’s rights are violated. What needs to be tackled are the ‘coercive’ aspects of the trade: minors/adults forced into the trade, or held in it against their wishes, the unholy nexus between pimps and police, the harassment of the sex workers, denying them basic human rights, and so on.

Of course, the matter of weather the plight of commercial sex workers would change post legalization is another matter altogether. And, it’s for others to comment (those who know the ground realities better). But that’s a digression.

So back to the other (and more important) SC commentary while converting Death sentence of Dilip Tiwari, also upheld by the Bombay High Court, into a life sentence:

“[Outside caste marraige] is held as the family’s defeat. At times, [elder brother] has to suffer taunts and snide remarks even from persons who really have no business to poke their nose into the affairs of the family. Dilip, therefore, must have been a prey of the so-called insult which his younger sister had imposed upon his family and that must have been in his mind for seven long months” (link)

Again, I’m ambivalent on the issue of capital punshiment (or to be truthful — I’m against it). But, what I cannot understand, is the differntiation that is made here, on grounds that the person may have ‘suffered taunts’.

Let’s put that in context. Let’s say a person is being taunted in society, because his wife did not bring in enough dowry, or that she hasn’t been able to deliver a male child (as happens routinely in our society). Now this person gets angry, and does what: beats/tortures his wife, or sends her back to her parents, or even kills her and her parents, and young siblings. Will anyone reduce the severity of punishment in such cases? Of course, not! And why? For the simple reason, that aggression is legally tolerated only against the one who’s tormenting, not those who are innocent.

If Dilip, in the moment of rage, had killed, even brutally, those who ‘had no business to poke their nose into the affairs of the family’, sure, he might be considered for ‘temporary insanity‘ plea, and get a reduced sentence. But a gruesome (as noted even by the Court), and pre-meditated murder (there were two people assisting him) of those, who’re basically innocent, apart from the crime of going against ‘genuine caste considerations‘ (sic!). They didn’t even spare a 13 year old kid, for God’s sake …

It gets worse, if that’s possible:

“It has come in evidence that the mother of Dilip tried to lure back Sushma and so did her other married sister Kalpana who actually went to meet Sushma in her college. Those efforts paid no dividend. Instead, Sushma kept attending the college, thereby openly mixing with the society. This must have added insult to the injury felt by the family members and more particularly, accused Dilip,” the bench said.

Instead Sushma kept openly mixing with the society! What was she supposed to do? Sit in a remote corner of house where no one sees or talks to her? Is this Supreme Court? Injury felt by … If I feel injured because the female I love doesn’t respond to me, and then I see her openly roaming with someone else, I go and kill her brutally, and him too, will I be spared the noose because of my ‘perceived injury’? This is seriously screwed, coming from the Apex court, no less!

It’s a verdict that belongs to middle ages, especially the justification. That it should apply to urban crime, in the twenty-first century, under the pretext of ‘caste considerations’ (read: bigorty, racism) hardly gives me hope. That it comes from the apex court — the last standing bastion of justice in this land — makes me despondant, and sad.

The message that’s gone out is this: honour killing are somehow less abhorrent that other dastardly acts of killing. That totally idiotic notions of caste superiority ingrained in our society are somehow a licence to kill, and that those who use that licence to kill will be spared the highest punishment, because they’re seen as victims of the social ideology. That those who do not have either the courage to confront aggressor or think beyond social norms, can go and kill those who’re the real victims (of those norms). That they’re are somehow to be seen as more human, than they are.

No, your honour — it’s just killing. There is no honour there.

PS: As an aside, those who harp on ‘uniform civil code‘ every once in a while, will they condemn this complete negation of criminal law for a twisted logic that triumphs the ‘community law’? Or will they let the ‘pinko-liberals’ beat the dead horse, and watch from sideline with a smug, indifferent expression, as always? When people’s right to life is being trivialized and ridiculed in the name of archiach community ‘conciousness’, the debate over ‘civil code’ turns meaningless.

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7 thoughts on “Not Honour, Your Honour

  1. Harshad Joshi says:

    dont worry man, the worlds going to end on 20 dec 2012 so will all bad people. 😉 😛

    dont pay too much attention to what the supreme court judge says, he can just deliver some dialogs, and no one cares to hear him..

    there is a nexus between media, politicos and judicial system and no one wants to break apart from the system.

    and this system is very brutal, its like a cancer cutting through a body, it just ruthlessly kills anyone that gets in its way.

    Stop dreaming of UCC. Sanjay Gandhi tried it and got killed in a copter crash. And since then no one has got the guts, butts and brains to even speak of it. it will take 7 lives till we succeed to clear those debts of many hundred years, but as i said, 2012 is just couple of years away, lets hope something good happens..

    Relax man, we cannot change the world through blogging, although we get some visitors, but still, blogging about such topics never helps more other then getting some traffic..

    Cheers.

  2. Dhananjay Nene says:

    wrt legalised prostitution – I think the supreme court “asked” the center in the same vein as you opined. It was neither a directive nor a precedent setting opinion as much as a “what if”. I suspect you and the SC are actually on the same page.

    On the second matter I forget the specific criteria for capital punishment, but the grounds used by the court are not grounds for condoning a crime as much as commuting a sentence. I suspect you err in applying the same yardstick to both. The judges are not condoning a crime as much as attempting to document why a capital punishment is not appropriately deserved in this case – and in that context I am not so sure thats unwarranted

  3. asuph says:

    Dhananjay,

    Even if it’s a ‘why don’t you do this’ kind of statement, there is a ‘since’ attached, and it’s that ‘since’ which I’m questioning. For, would SC judge make a statement like: ‘why don’t you legalize drugs, since you can’t curb drug trade’ or ‘why don’t you legalize terrorism, as you cannot stop it’. Not even in passing comment, would it? So I don’t think SC and I are on the same page there.

    About the other issue, the point is, all crime will have such perceived and otherwise insults, injustices back there somewhere in the past. Will a terrorist get a reduced sentence because he was brainwashed in a madrassa when he was a mere child? It’s the ‘nature’ of the crime that should dictate the punishment: was it cold-blooded, was it premeditated? Why this need to factor in the ‘genuine caste considerations’? Why is a man blinded by religious fanaticism not get the same treatment as the one blinded by social fanaticism? This is a slippery slope.

    Will we start understanding the mind of a terrorist next?

    IMO, the gruesomeness of the crime alone has to count. It’s a statement, just as terrorism is a statement. This IS social terrorism. And it cannot be ‘understood’. If at all, examples have to be made out of such cases.

    regards,
    asuph

    • Dhananjay Nene says:

      Even if it’s a ‘why don’t you do this’ kind of statement, there is a ’since’ attached, and it’s that ’since’ which I’m questioning

      I would only submit that you are attempting to equate a court opinion with a court question. The former is inherently definitive while the latter could be both explorative and argumentative.

      IMO, the gruesomeness of the crime alone has to count. It’s a statement, just as terrorism is a statement. This IS social terrorism. And it cannot be ‘understood’. If at all, examples have to be made out of such cases.

      You are more than welcome to carry that opinion and continue questioning the legal system. However the legal system requires the judges to use a different criteria for deciding whether the defendant is guilty as opposed to whether the guilty deserves to be killed. The judges have to work with those rules, and their actions must be evaluated within that context alone.

      • asuph says:

        Dhananjay,

        I think we’re going circular on both points.

        1. Irrespective of it being opinion/argumentative-question, the choice of ‘since’ is problematic. And that’s why I’m saying the court would never make even explorative/argumentitative statements about other issues I mentioned in response above.

        2. It’s the ‘criteria’ used by judges to decide the ‘extent’ of the punishment, is what I’m questioning, and it’s that criteria, that I claim would lead us on a slippery slope. Wit SC, it will be a precedent that other courts will more often than not follow.

        Anyways, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree here, since we’re not going anywhere.

        As always, welcome your comments.

        regards,
        asuph

  4. Mahendra says:

    Amit,

    When I heard the news about #1, I immediately wanted to write a post on it, but haven’t yet done so. My preliminary assessment is that you’re taking one spoken sentence of the judge in isolation and disproportionately giving it importance. I agree with Dhananjay.

    About #2: Your rant sounds almost as if the judges declared them innocent! Here too, I agree with Dhananjay.

    The “criteria” used by the judges is the caste system in India. The other examples you cite to contrast this case are dowry and child discrimination. Your examples are inappropriate because both the latter are outlawed, while casteism is not just acknowledged, but built into the legal framework. Resevations in the education sector recognize the existence of castes and is very much a legal matter.

    And admitting plea for leniency for death penalty is certainly not a “complete negation of criminal law”. No doubt you are deeply troubled by these court judgments, but there is no need to take an extremist view of it.

  5. Ritu says:

    Why so called modern intelligent people are always in favour of legalising prostitution…it should be curbed..yes curbed fully…ya the second judgment very well written…..hope world comes to end asap !!!!!

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