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Now, Nirbhaya's soul can rest in peace

Now, Nirbhaya
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The soul of Nirbhaya must be at rest today as finally justice has been done to her.

The soul of Nirbhaya must be at rest today as finally justice has been done to her. It was certainly a very painful case and the entire country was waiting with bated breath for this day.

The only sad part of it is that it took eight long years of continuous struggle by the parents of the victim. They need to be saluted for their courage and determination to get justice, which was not denied, though delayed.

Imagine how painful it would have been for Nirbhaya's mother who had to face the long drawn legal procedure. There was not a single moment for her to allow the wound to heal.

When the country was plunged into shock in December 2012, when the most brutal sexual assault took place in New Delhi, there was an outburst of anger across the country.

The government of the day brought in some stringent laws and the Act was named as Nirbhaya Act. There was a general hope that it would help in instilling confidence among the people particularly women and girls that they would now be much safer.

Whether the Act achieved its desired results or not is another issue. But as far as the Nirbhaya case is concerned, it is sad to note that justice took eight long years. While it is fact that no single innocent person should be punished, in this case proving the four accused guilty had taken unduly long time.

This is one area where the government needs to focus upon. The Nirbhaya issue is now part of history. But the government should take it as a case study and take cognizance of the mental agony and turmoil suffered by the family in this case and create a system where all brutal rape case accused get death penalty within six months.

A strong message should go across the country that you cannot commit the crime and get away with the law. They should know that if anyone indulges in such heinous crime, law will get you.

The judiciary should come to the rescue of the executive and such ways and means on how the long-drawn legal process can be cut short and the accused do not get a chance to make fun of the law till the last moment as it happened in the case of Nirbhaya.

No such criminal should be allowed to misuse the law and try to get away.

Reacting to the hanging of the Nirbhaya rape convicts', National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Rekha Sharma on Friday said that Nirbhaya had finally got justice and will finally be at peace. She also called this case to be a deterrent in the future.

Rekha Sharma said, "It was a very painful case and the entire country for waiting for this day Nirbhaya got justice, after 8 long years. This case will act as a deterrent in the future." She too expressed the feeling that in such gruesome cases the decision must be taken quickly.

"It's a difficult time for the families of those who got hanged, but the whole country is thinking about justice which Nirbhaya got and she must be finally in peace. It's justice for all," she said.

Delhi Women's Commission Chairperson Swati Maliwal also said while hanging of the rapists had sent a strong message, the government must take cognizance of such gruesome cases and provide a death penalty in six months of the incident.

While expressing satisfaction that her long drawn battle had finally resulted in getting justice and thanking the judiciary, Nirbhaya's mother appealed to the government to see that the judicial process was strengthened.

There is a need to strengthen and speed up the judicial process so that victims and their kin shouldn't have to wait for so long to get justice like in this case.

It has become essential since there are still many Nirbhayas in the country who are yet to get justice. Our judicial system is slow and time consuming and this results in the prolonging the suffering of the victims.

The question is why did it take eight long years? The apex court had about 40 hearings for over a year and a month. Legal experts feel daily hearing, like it did with the Ayodhya case, would have wrapped up Nirbhaya case quickly.

"It was not a civil case like Ayodhya. But still, it could have been expedited in four months with daily hearing." If High Courts and the Supreme Court can fast-track hearing by having a dedicated bench to hear specific cases of heinous crime such as rape and murder, justice can be delivered fast.

The victims also made use of all possible loopholes in the law and tried to delay the verdict and even after the verdict was delivered, they left no stone unturned to escape from the gallows.

In the High Court, one of the pleas was that the trial court proceedings were in English and the convicts couldn't understand what's written on the documents. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) worked day and night to translate thousands of pages in Hindi.

In the fast-track court, the defence lawyers allegedly created false alibis to show that the suspects were not in Delhi at the time of the crime. The prosecution had to counter every alibi to make the investigation fool proof.

Two of the four suspects claimed they were juvenile (underage for prosecution as adults) when the offence was committed. The SIT team had to visit their villages in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to collect evidence to counter that.

"The civic bodies and educational institutions from where we had to collect birth certificates and relevant documents didn't work on weekends and holidays. It delayed the trial for several days.

The fast-track court should order these institutions to expedite the process," says a police officer associated with the case.

Besides, police alleged that defence lawyers and their witnesses tried to delay the matter on one pretext or the other. Amidst all that, a personal tragedy kept the judge off the case for almost a week.

Once the Supreme Court awarded the death sentence on May 5, 2017, the four convicts should have filed a review petition within 30 days as per law.

But the law makes a provision for condonation of the delay if the convict gives a convincing reason. The four convicts exploited this to the fullest.

As per law, once a review petition is dismissed, a convict can file a curative petition within 30 days of the date of dismissal. The curative petition's dismissal follows a mercy petition to the President.

In this case, Therefore, there is an urgent need to speed up the judicial process and reconsider review petitions in heinous crime cases when conviction has been upheld from the trial court till the apex court.

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