Rejoicing the Kasab Judgment – With some Reservations May 9, 2010Posted by Chetan Chitre in Uncategorized.
Finally, a judgment was delivered on 26-11 case on expected lines. The accused was declared guilty and awarded the harshest punishment available. And as expected there was a sigh of relief.
In fact almost all the media reported news of celebration in the city of Mumbai and elsewhere. A few newspapers carried photographs of bursting of crackers and dancing and merry-making.
The city and the civil society had taken its revenge, though not in as cruel a manner as it would have liked to.
This blog is not an attempt to defend Kasab or protest against his punishment. His act was dastardly and of course deserved the harshest punishment. Not even giving the usual logic that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
There are however, 2 points which bother and which I would like to make here.
The Due Course of Law
Thankfully, despite popular feeling of hatred, we allowed the law to take its course. There was a fair trial; the accused was given an opportunity to present his side, etc.
Questions were raised that the crime was obvious, it was committed in public with evidence being captured by mass media, etc. and so there was no reason for a court hearing, that the crime was self-evident and heinous and so the criminal should be publicly hanged, that the government should not ‘waste’ crores of rupees keeping a criminal alive, etc.
Thankfully better sense prevailed. There have been a few articles appreciating the process of law though such an opinion is found among a very miniscule minority. And then too, the rationale given for following the process of Law is quite often to do with our standing in the international community and the need for portraying ourselves as a Democratic and Just country before them.
While this is an important reason, I think a more important reason has to be internal. Regardless of what the international community thinks about the whole affair, it is more important for me as a society and as a person to be seen as a just person and a just society in my own eyes. The need for Justice and fairness has to be an internal need of the society and should not be seen as a matter of strategy.
Of course the state and the judiciary has to take the blame for the low levels of credibility that our judicial process has in the eyes of the citizens. However, it is disheartening when the media and the intellectuals succumb to a mass-hysteria and start demanding for subverting the process of law. Rather than talking of denying a fair trial to Kasab, one would have loved to see an opinion that the Kasab trial – its speed, the emphasis on fairness, the promptness with which the police filed the charge-sheet and presented the evidence, the treatment given to the accused, the living conditions in the jail, etc. – should be an example for all other trials pending in Indian courts.
Celebrating the Death Sentence
Another disturbing matter was the rejoicing and revelry seen on announcement of the death sentence. While one has all sympathies for the families of the deceased and all anger for the criminals involved, I feel one has to stop for a moment and ask – is this an occasion to celebrate.
A person, in this case – the criminal Kasab, is morally and psychologically ill. His behavior and values are deviant. In some sense it is our collective failure as a society that we could not cure him and make him realize the beauty in human life – even when he himself is staring in the face of death. We have failed to cure an illness, a disease and are condemned to watch him face death.
Is this a matter to celebrate?