There is no doubt whatsoever that Assam is now heading towards the notoriety of being the crime capital of the country. What is even worse in that heinous crimes against women like rape and rape followed by murder have become commonplace. Debabrata Saikia, leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, made particular reference to the gang rape and killing of a 13-year-old on March 23, bringing in a reference of more than 3,000 incidents of rape and numerous instances of crime against women in the State during the past two years. However, the latest incident of the gang rape of a minor at Batadrawa in gaon district and her subsequent murder has shaken the people of the State to the core, and demands are turally being made all over Assam for speedy and stringent punishment of the crimils involved.
What has been a matter of major concern during recent months is that the crime rate in Assam is increasing at an alarming rate and that the visible measures for dealing with heinous crimes (particularly crimes against women) have not been up to the expectations of the people. The debate in the Legislative Assembly over the question of ming the community to which the crimils belong was perhaps uncalled for and a waste of precious time. Most people will agree that the main focus for speedy action should be on crimes, and crimils should have no time to flee to safer places beyond the reach of the local police. And a country that has retained capital punishment for crimes like murder, should extend it to rape as well. There is obviously no need to me the community to which the crimils belong. However, there should be no delay in ming the crimils and seeking the help of the public and in locating and identifying them whenever this becomes necessary. Effective action against heinous crimes depends largely on the speed at which the detection of the crimils is carried out and justice delivered. What happens normally in our State is that people do not get to know the mes of the crimils for a long time. Everyone recognizes the need to protect the mes of the victims in rape cases. But there is certainly no need to extend the same courtesy and concern in making the mes of the crimils public soon after such crimes are committed. And when a large number of such crimils are found to belong to any particular community, there has to be serious concern about sociological aberrations and total lack of respect for women affecting that community. It then becomes necessary for the custodians of the law to have serious discussions with the leaders of the community concerned to find ways of dealing with such major aberrations. Otherwise, we are concerned with the crime and the crimils involved and not the community to which crimils belong.
The unfortute part of the entire business of handling serious crime is the customary law’s delay. This is not to suggest that there is not some delay in legal processes in other countries. However, the extent of delay in India forms some kind of an unholy record. And one of the main reasons why crimes seem to mount in India is that the crimil is more or less assured that punishment will take a long time in coming, if and when it does. Crimils often grow old or die before being filly sentenced for their crimes. The law’s delay plays a very major role in encouraging crime because even the worst crimil is aware that many years will pass before he is punished for his crime. This is an unfortute facet of our legal and judicial functioning that we have had occasion to refer to quite a few times without noticing any visible change in the speed with which justice is delivered to crimils. If Singapore can pass sentence on a rapist in just 14 days, we too should be able to do so in a month or six weeks.