Ex-CJI on Hyd encounter: Has rule of law run its course?

New Delhi, Dec 11  Citing the gang-rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad and the subsequent killing of all the four accused in a police ‘encounter’, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) R.M. Lodha said on Tuesday that while we are celebrating the Human Rights Day, the fact of the matter is that we are struggling to protect human rights.

“Are we heading towards a society of lawlessness? Has the rule of law run its course? What happened to the constitutional rights and procedural safeguards,” asked Lodha while speaking at an event to mark Human Rights Day organised by the International Institute of Human Rights here.

“People are going back to the 17th century Hammurabi’s code of laws: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth and nail for nail,” he added.

Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who was also present at the event, cited the Unnao rape survivor lying burnt on the road and the scene of dead bodies of the alleged accused in the Hyderabad case to present two facets of the country.

Ex-CJI Lodha insisted that criminals are not afraid of committing heinous crimes, and even sadder is the killing of the four accused in a police ‘encounter’.

He also cited the instance when a Telangana minister said that reconstruction of crime scene was carried out on instructions from above and the police did what they were asked to do.

“Are we junking due process and justice system? The demand of similar treatment by the people with the accused in the Unnao rape and murder case shows that an atmosphere of mob mentality is prevailing in the society,” Lodha said.

He also spoke about the state of women’s safety in the country, saying that 92 per cent of the Nirbhaya funds continues to remain unspent by the state governments.

Justice Chandrachud cited the Aarey tree felling incident to establish that deliberative democracy and courts together can lead to the protection of human rights.

He insisted that there is need for a safe and affordable public transport system, but it cannot come up by ignoring the environmental impact in a world where climate change is emerging as an important issue.