BEST should not be the enemy of good. The encounter by police that killed all four accused of the gruesome rape and murder of the Hyderabad vet today is good only in the absence of the best. In an ideal world, the accused would have met with time-bound justice after due process of law. But we know from Nirbhaya's case that the ideal is yet to be reached in the India that we live in. I am sure it would come in our lifetimes, but till then may the bleeding hearts on human rights and due process not hold the best as the enemy of good.
As in the case of Nirbhaya, the brutality shown to the Hyderabad victim has been beyond baser instincts. It reflects a societal degeneration which should trouble the heart and mind of anyone who wants this nation to be a better place for its daughters. While the societal change is a long term project, what Hyderabad underscores is a complete breakdown of the justice delivery system, and the failure of the State to fix it.
At the root of these crimes is not the inadequacy of laws as such but the absence of fear of law at two levels. At the level of police, there is an almost complete absence of deterrence located mainly in the inadequate cops-to-population ratio. This gets accentuated at the level of the courts. A creaky and compromised judicial system means that criminals - from the petty to the mighty - know that an average lawyer with flexible scruples would take care of any requirements of justice. If the Nirbhaya accused are still fiddling with the system, despite an almost revolution rocking the country in the winter of 2012, you know the distance we have to travel both as a society and the State.
Tell me if you all initially found the lynching demand expressed by a member of parliament Jaya Bachchan little jarring, only to see it echoed among a wide swathe of the population last few days. It was representative of patience running dry at multiple levels in the general law-abiding elements of the society. Fast track courts, more technological aids with police, better forensic techniques - all come to naught at the altar of a compromised public morality that instead of revolting at the horrific costs of a slack justice delivery system, prefers to bribe its way through it.
Early in his first term itself, Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked women's safety as one of the key trouble spots in our society when he spoke on it from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, 2014, asking parents to confront their sons with as many questions as they ask did with daughters to restrain their public conduct. But the Kafkaesque bottom is holding the rot with no clear solutions in sight. Till then an encounter would remain a stop-gap societal response. Honestly, I don't mind.