Stating that the country is moving towards “chaos” and “anarchy”, the Supreme Court on Thursday suggested that concern for rehabilitation of criminals should not dominate plight of victims and the larger national interest.
“Lawlessness is the order of the day. Hardened criminals are in the good books of several powerful men of ill-gotten wealth and power mongers for whom they act as paid assassins and goondas… Any sympathy shown will only amount to a misplaced one…,” said a Constitution Bench as it snubbed the Tamil Nadu government for releasing seven life term convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case prematurely.
Justice F M I Kalifulla said that fear expressed by the court in a judgment about three-and-a-half decades ago has “now come true and today we find that criminals are let loose, endangering the lives of several thousand innocent people in our country”. In a 1980-judgment, Justice Fazal Ali had said that lack of deterrent punishment would cause chaos in the country and that a person, who has deprived another of his liberty, apart from endangering the liberty of his family, has no right to ask the court to uphold his liberty.
“As was anticipated by the learned judge, it is the hard reality that the State machinery is not able to protect or guarantee the life and liberty of the common man,” held the Constitution Bench Thursday.
The Bench underlined that if any further leniency is shown in the matter of punishment, particularly with respect to capital punishment or life imprisonment, “it will only lead to further chaos and there will be no Rule of Law, but only anarchy will rule the country, enabling criminals and their gangs to dictate terms”.