As the seven-year-old Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case comes to a close with the execution of four convicts in the matter, it has sparked another debate over the nature of law dealing with such cases.
According to several lawyers, the law is both corrective and retributive but swift justice is also required in rarest of rare cases, where there is no scope for reformation.
"We have become accustomed to having this sense of righteousness without looking at it from a social justice or human rights viewpoint. Our viewpoint is more layman's viewpoint than that of human rights," senior advocate Geeta Luthra told ANI.
She said that people have lost the perspective of what the purpose of justice really is.
"Originally, justice was retributive. Then the concept became deterrent. As we became more conscious of the fact that there is a need for correction of these individuals who do such dastardly things. The concept of justice became reformative. The fact is that the society has not moved along," Luthra said.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Nidhesh Gupta said that law is to be both corrective and retributive and added that retributive justice requires a proportional response to an offence.
Delhi: Badrinath Singh, father of 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim shows victory sign, says, "Today is our victory and it happened because of media, society & Delhi police. You can understand what is inside my heart by my smile". pic.twitter.com/lGhzP2lPAV— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2020
"In cases of heinous crimes, the larger public policy that the wrongdoer is shown the 'iron hand of law' which in turn acts as a deterrent to other potential wrongdoers, thereby reducing the commission of offences," Gupta said.
On the other hand, advocate Tanya Aggarwal said that law should be corrective and not retributive.
"An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. The justice system should work towards minimizing crime which will automatically minimize criminals," Agarwal said.
#WATCH Asha Devi, mother of 2012 Delhi gang rape victim says, "As soon as I returned from Supreme Court, I hugged the picture of my daughter and said today you got justice". pic.twitter.com/OKXnS3iwLr— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2020
Some lawyers also supported strict punishments and defended continuing capital punishment.
Delhi: Asha Devi, Badrinath Singh, and their lawyer Seema Kushwaha show victory sign after the convicts were hanged till death after a 7-year-long legal battle. #NirbhayaVerdict pic.twitter.com/eQSt4rtLWT— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2020
"In a diabolical crime like Nirbhaya gang rape, the courts have to render swift justice by conducting the trials in a fast track court. Since this was a rarest of rare case, it required capital punishment. The punishment should act as a deterrent to other criminals," Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa said.
He said that the duty of the courts is not only to punish the guilty but also to protect the innocent and give justice to the victims of the crime.
Noted criminal lawyer Ashish Dixit said, "Law is always corrective, but the present case is of such horrific nature that punishment should be deterrent enough to convey a message to society. No law is retributive, in our country we follow a system where the law is a cocktail of deterrence and reform.