‘Justice must never take the form of revenge’: CJI Bobde
At the same time, Bobde said the recent events in the country sparked off an old debate with new vigour, and that there was no doubt that the criminal justice system must reconsider its position and attitude towards the time it took to dispose of a case.Updated: Dec 08, 2019 06:46 IST
Justice must not be instant and it loses its character when it becomes revenge, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde said on Saturday, a day after the alleged encounter killing of four men accused in the gang rape and murder of a 26-year-old woman in Hyderabad triggered a fierce debate and raised concerns among activists who called the police action a “horrifying” violation of due process.
At the same time, Bobde said the recent events in the country sparked off an old debate with new vigour, and that there was no doubt that the criminal justice system must reconsider its position and attitude towards the time it took to dispose of a case.
“But I don’t think justice can ever be or ought to be instant, and justice must never ever take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character of justice if it becomes revenge,” CJI Bobde said at the inauguration of a new building of the Rajasthan high court in Jodhpur.
His remarks came a day after the police said they shot dead the four suspected rapists on the outskirts of Hyderabad, where the young veterinarian’s burnt body was found on November 28. The police said that the four accused snatched the weapons of two personnel, fired at the team that took them to the scene for the re-enactment of their alleged crime, and were killed in retaliatory firing.
CJI Bobde also spoke on the much-talked-about press conference held by four senior-most judges of the apex court last year, and termed it a self-corrective measure.
In that unprecedented press conference on January 12, 2018, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurien Joseph said the situation in the top court was “not in order” and questioned the functioning of the court.
Ranjan Gogoi, later that year, succeeded the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra.
All the judges who were part of the press conference have since retired.
“I believe the institution (judiciary) must correct itself and indeed it did during the time when the much-criticised press conference was held. It was nothing more than a self-corrective measure and I do not wish to justify it,” Justice Bobde said.
“All judges were eminent and Justice (Ranjan) Gogoi in particular showed great competence and led the judiciary from the front,” he added.
At the same event, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urged the CJI and other senior judges to ensure that there was a mechanism to monitor quick disposal of rape cases, saying the women of the country were crying for justice.
“I would urge the CJI and other senior judge that now there must be a mechanism to monitor the disposal of these cases so that India’s stature as a proud country governed by rule of law must be restored at the earliest,” Prasad said, assuring government funding for it.
The Hyderabad rape and murder triggered nationwide outrage, sparking demands of swift punishment to rapists. The news of the alleged encounter killings led to celebrations in some quarters and concern in others. Several horrific incidents of crimes against women and children have come to the fore over the past week, fuelling public anger in the aftermath of the Hyderabad crime.
Prasad said there were 704 fast-track courts for such offences and others, stressing the government’s commitment to justice delivery in cases of sexual crimes against women and children.
“In the law relating to violence against women, we have already laid down capital punishment and other severe punishment including completion of trial in two months’ time,” he added.
The Chief Justice of India, who spoke after the minister, stressed that as an institution, the judiciary must remain committed to making justice accessible to people by strengthening the existing avenues and evolving newer means to achieve an affordable, quick and satisfactory settlement of disputes.
“At the same time, we must be aware of the changes and perception about the judiciary,” Justice Bobde said.
He added that there was a need in the judiciary to invoke self-correcting measures but whether or not they should be publicised was a matter of debate.