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Pacing pedals of justice

Pacing pedals of justice
If Karma is the ultimate answer to every action performed by human beings, then Jodhpur court's Wednesday verdict on self-styled godman Asaram Bapu will serve the best example, at the moment. The eternal meaning of Karma, which is famous throughout the world for its philosophy and significance, refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence their future (effect). Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering. In short, it symbolises one's future in the present life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives (reincarnation). Popularised by the famous Bollywood flick, Andha Kanoon, it has been a general observation by most citizens in our country that the law is manipulable or manipulated by the powerful, and, invariably, the meek, innocent and honest fall prey to such manipulations. However, the lady in the blindfold, lurking in the courtroom, will ultimately have a direction to point her finger at.
Over the past few months, the country has witnessed an unprecedented spike in rape and sexual harassment cases from all across the country. Moving ahead of the trauma of the teenage girl or the elderly woman, the most worrying trend is that even a six-month-old baby has been unable to escape the clutches of this nauseating culture. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of 2015, Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of rape reports among the Indian states, while Jodhpur in Rajasthan has the highest per capita rate of rape reports among cities followed by New Delhi, the capital city of India. Over 34,600 cases of rape have been reported across the country with Madhya Pradesh topping the list at 4,391 cases and Delhi at 2,199, highest among the Union Territories. In another word, in every 20 minutes, a woman is raped somewhere in India. Another disturbing fact is that over 98 per cent of the offenders are known to the victims. As per the NCRB report, crimes against women have increased by 7.1 per cent nationwide since 2010, and child rape cases have increased by 336 per cent in the last 10 years in India. Also, it is true that most of the rapes are left unreported because of the social stigma and fear of public humiliation. According to an estimate from 2014, only 5-6 per cent of total rape cases in India are reported to the police.
Although there are various reasons for the rise in rape incidents, one simple explanation is the massive sex ratio imbalance in the country. As per the 2011 census report, the female population is 940 per one thousand males; underlying the unfortunate saying that "bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbour's plant". Another factor is the abhorrent caste system, which is still prevalent in several parts of the country, especially in northern India, also known as the Hindi belt. Such inequality, beliefs, social structure, education system and gender-based discrimination against female children, which is pervasive across this region, produces such self-styled godmen who can execute their filthy actions without a speck of remorse or guilt, or even fear of consequences. And, in the end, this has become a culture and epidemic which is today plaguing our society.
While it is appreciable that the President of India has promulgated the criminal law amendment ordinance, paving the way for stringent punishment for the rape accused following the public outcry over the cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat, there is still a long path to traverse before reinstating the trust of the people in the present Indian judicial system. One example is the long delay in the disposal of the criminal cases, where it takes anywhere between five years and 15 years to receive redressal in most instances. If that is the case, then an ordinance is reduced to empty rhetoric irrespective of its intent.
Now, it is time for the government and judiciary to convince the citizens that they are committed to their roles. Their actions must reflect that nobody stands above the law as justice must play the role of an adequate equaliser. When they perform their duties within the requisite time and assure the citizens of powerful governance and an effective judiciary, people like Asaram Bapu will be compelled to toe the line. That will be the Karma for them and the belief of Beti Bachao, Beti Padao will leave a lasting impression on the society in the long-run.
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