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.