The much contested juvenile justice bill, which for the most parts had stayed at the periphery of Indian politics, now finds itself in the public spotlight.
The Rajya Sabha had decided to take up the bill on Tuesday, which had been languishing in the Upper House since the budget session, following public outrage at the Supreme Court’s rejection of the plea against the release of the juvenile convict in the December 2012 gang rape case.
Leaders from across the political spectrum have taken to various public forums to voice their angst, disappointment and -- in most cases -- outrage at the inability of the legislature in passing the contentious bill that aims to let 16 to 18 year olds be tried as adults for committing ‘heinous crimes’.
From DCW’s Swati Maliwal shouting her guts out during television debates to Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien taking to Twitter to express his frustration about the delay in the bill’s passage, finger pointing took centre stage in a battle that should have been fought long ago.
Even top politicians didn’t miss the chance of a photo op with the victim’s parents. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi took to Twitter to express his “confidence” in the passing of the bill after the meeting. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi (not wanting to be left out from the action) also met the parents to show his and the party’s ‘support’ in their struggle for justice. The cherry on the political cake was the parents being brought to the Rajya Sabha to witness the circus first hand.
Such political attention that arises out of a heated “public sentiment” follows a pattern: the Centre absolves itself of all responsibility; the Opposition tries to milk it to their advantage as much as possible, and sidelined political leaders take the opportunity to make their presence felt by making outrageous statements.
Death, rape, suicide, all become political weapons to be used either when the public decides to wake up from its ‘false consciousness’ slumber and fight for an issue it considers worth its while, or when there are vested political interests. Dadri lynching, Anand Parbat murder case, are just few examples where the battle is no longer between justice and injustice but which political party milked it the most to their advantage.
From Ravishankar Prasad targeting the Congress for not letting “the house run” and thus delaying the entire process to Sitaram Yechury blaming the government for making excuses and Naidu in response making some more excuses and to top it all of Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav saying “poltics” caused the delay, the entire episode has turned the Parliament into a huge circus.
The Congress party had even interpreted the insistence of the government to bring on the unlisted Juvenile Justice Bill in Rajya Sabha on Monday as an attempt to “defame the Opposition” and to distract attention from the ongoing DDCA row.
Forgetting the fact that a girl was brutally gang-raped which led to her painful death, forgetting that her parents are fighting what seems to be a losing battle, forgetting the fact that just days ago another brutal rape had been committed by ‘minors’ who are likely to again walk free, all that seems to matter to our public representatives is who comes out of this public debate as the ‘winner’, forgetting that the reality of such heinous crimes taking place every day is testament to the fact that they are already losing.