While hearing a petition in the rape case of a 15-year-old girl, the Supreme Court’s observation that rape conviction rate is going from bad to worse is frightening. It is distressing to note that 90 per cent of rape cases end in acquittal. In other words, a negligible 10 per cent of the accused are convicted. This percentage will take a further nosedive, considering the fact that many crimes are not reported and many others which are reported, are not recorded by the law enforcement agencies. After the unprecedented nationwide protest against the infamous Delhi gang rape case, people expected that such cases would gradually diminish. However, contrary to expectations, gang rapes are occurring with alarming alacrity in various parts of the country. Whenever a rape case is reported, people and politicians make a hue and cry demanding stringent punishment , including death penalty for the rapists. However, it is not the severity of the punishment, but the certainty of the punishment which deters a potential criminal from committing the crime. If we are able to reverse the trend by awarding punishment in 90 per cent of the cases, there is bound to be a drastic reduction in such cases.  Fear of punishment is the biggest punishment for a potential criminal. Our criminal justice system needs a complete overhaul .

E M Adithyan  

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