If anything is more vulgar, obscene and crass than the statements mouthed by the rapist in the documentary 'India's daughter' by Leslee Udwin, it is the wisdom on Indian women and Indian culture spouted by the pair of defence lawyers of the rapists and murderers of Nirbhaya. The statements of the rapist are consistent with what one would expect from the most wretched, depraved and warped of minds imaginable – which is what rapists of the Nirbhaya case are. So no surprise there.
The surprise comes from the nauseating and unnerving views on Indian culture and womanhood that the two 'defence lawyers' hold in their muck-filled heads. Below are some samples of thoughts pontificated by the two on Indian woman, with smug face and chilling deliberation.
One of the defence lawyers provides his wisdom thus: "That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society we never allow our girls to come out of the house after 6.30 or 7.30 or 8.30 in the evening with any unknown person."
He goes on to add, "She [the Indian woman] should not be put on the street just like food. The 'lady', on the other hand (sic) you can say the 'girl' or 'woman' are more precious than a diamond … are more precious than a gem… than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put on the street , certainly the dog will take it out. You can't stop it…"
The second one is not to be left behind. Says he, "[If a woman has to go out at all] If very important, if very necessary, she should go outside (sic). But she should go with her family members like uncle, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc. etc. So she should not go in night hours (sic) with her boy-friend, of such types (sic)."
He also adds, "A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery and rape are pending against bout 250 MPs, but their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to the society, against rape, against robbery, against murder, then first you should start with your own neck."
Ah, some VVIP angle even here, except that in the opinion of this worthy, if the VVIPs can walk free after all the rapes and murders to their account, nobody has any business pointing fingers at his client(s). (But I do agree with this worthy to the extent that the VVIP accused too should be on fast-track when accused of such heinous crimes.)
Going by these statements, these lawyers are in no doubt that Indian woman is chattel after all, even if "a gem or diamond". To me it is not clear if these 'gentlemen' share the same space and time as the majority of us hopefully do or should do.
Can you imagine these worthies ever being hired by a rape victim as her defence lawyers? Or for that matter by anyone in defence of women's rights? We often bemoan the non-functioning lower judiciary in the country. But these two worthies are practising in the country's highest court! One would be interested in knowing what the Supreme Court judges thinks of the lawyers of this variety that pollute their corridors.
Nobody can argue in a functioning democracy, that even cretins like the Nirbhaya rapists or Ajmal Kasabs have to be given a chance to defend themselves. One would think "defence" in this particular case would be based more along the lines that these perpetrators of crimes come from severely deprived backgrounds; or that there is no semblance of a caring family; that the shadow of real education has barely reached them ever and their only role models are abusive fathers or local rowdies and rouges. A defence for the perpetrators could at best be made on the premise that these cretins are by-products of our larger society that over the decades has done very little to improve their lot. Along some such lines, a case for sparing death penalty for them could possibly be made (though personally I am all for death sentence in such cases), even as they agreed with death penalty for those hailing from higher socio economic strata, since they clearly had many more options to follow a better path in life; or some such argument.
But for defence lawyers to defend their pathetic clients by putting the blame on the victim stating the place of a woman after 6.30 or 7.30pm is at home and that if she is out, it is perfectly acceptable if she is dog's meat – even if the dog be his client – is difficult to stomach.
If this is the shame the Government feels intensely enough to ban the documentary, one can at least sympathise with its shame, even if one cannot agree to the ban on the documentary. Banning the documentary will only help keep the dirty attitudes that lawyers like this duo harbour in their heads hidden from society at large, while the society has every right to beware of such lawyers; never mind being wary of the rapists. After all against wild animals we anyway try to be careful. But it is the innocent looking domestic dog with an addled head that we have to be more wary about. What is more, the society also has the right to be alerted as to what is happening in the name of education in the country if so-called educated professionals have such attitudes.
What can we say even of the higher judiciary of which lawyers of this kind form an integral part? How safe are women with lawyers like these on the? Should a system supposedly built on the principle of equality of all in its constitution, permit practice of law by the likes of this duo?
And what if some of these worthies make it to the position of judges some day? Nor is this entirely a hypothetical question. A few years ago, I found myself in the company of two High Court judges over a dinner. When I asked what should be the judicial view on the punishment of tiger poachers when tigers were on the verge of extinction, one of the judge looked at me blankly, and asked me a counter question, "So what if tigers become extinct? After all thousands of species have become extinct over the centuries!" He was genuinely unable to fathom what was bothering me. The other enthusiastically nodded his head, as if in full agreement with his brother judge. Imagine a poaching case lands up in the Hon'ble Courts of these Hon'ble Gentlemen!
Bad eggs exist in every profession. But is there no mechanism in our democracy to defend the society at large from such defence lawyers, who may well make it to judges? The documentary brings out clearly that the mind-set of the rapists and that of their defence lawyers (in this case at least) is exactly the same. It is simply the manifestations that are different. One commits a violent crime right now. The other is a slow poison perpetuating vitiated attitudes towards women leading others to commit vile crimes against women with moral justifications!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.