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Home » communique - february 2017 » Santosh Hedge talks tough on molestation cases

Santosh Hedge talks tough on molestation cases

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Jeevan Biswas

1. As someone who has lived in Bangalore for some time, what was your reaction when you found out about incident that transpired on MG Road on New Year’s Eve?

I wasn’t surprised by what had happened on New Year’s Eve. Though these type of incidents in Bangalore earlier were rare, far and few. But more and more people come out on Christmas Day or a New Year’s Eve or a festival day.

Large gathering of people including women might give rise to these types of happenings. Because people with all mindset come. Many people don’t have any moral values. Earlier days Bangalore was a very quiet place. Maybe Christmas was celebrated in churches and maybe in clubs and there was no celebration of New Years’ on the streets in the earlier days. But as the years have gone by, I think this type of celebration in India has become wider. I would have been happy if Bangalore’s population hadn’t t grown up to such a big level. I came to Bangalore in 1956 to join my college and the population was 4 lakhs. And we are now 120 lakhs +. And the slightest of the possibility (opportunity), people want to celebrate it. It could be winning a cricket match or it could be something else.

People want to come down to the streets. Earlier of course mostly the boys came down to the street. Well, things have changed now. Women also come down to the streets and naturally this type of incidents become more. I am not surprised at that. Because they don’t see the ways and means of controlling that. But law and order cannot prevent this type of incidents at all. These are not pre-planned incidents. These are incidents which occur on the spot. Emotions on the spot. Well, that’s my view in regard to the growing things (incidents).

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  Santhosh Hedge, Former Judge,Supreme Court of India                            PHOTO – JEEVAN  

 

2.The term coined to address this incident is ‘Mass Molestation’. Your views on that.

That’s ridiculous. When ten thousand people get together in such a small street like brigade road, somebody touching somebody, it could be accidental or it could be on purpose. Some perverts are there. But to say its mass molestation, I certainly don’t agree. It’s exaggerating the incidents that have taken place. As a matter of fact I read what the commissioner of police said. That the (all) CCTV cameras hardly showed one or two persons behaving unbecomingly. It’s not a mass molestation at all. These are exaggerations

3.Your take on the development of this into a movement. #IWillGoOut, etc.

Good thing. I would have preferred the old system of parents teaching the boys and the girls the values of life. How to deal with… A boy should deal with a girl like a mother or a sister. And girls also should look at it from the same point of view. But things have changed very much.

Today it’s become an open society where I hardly find the required values in our life. As a matter of fact we live in a society that condones everything that happens.  This earlier was not accepted by the society.  I think this is a thing which we got to learn from values rather than by laws.

Laws cannot control this kind of incidents. I have been to more than 900 educational institutions to talk about changing the society in which we are. The society accepts everything. We are into a society which respects money and power. Nothing else. The lack of moral values is not condemned. On the contrary it is condoned by the society.

These values you should learn from the family and from the schools. We used to have moral sciences subject (in school) which used to give us a lot of information about the do’s and don’ts in life. Today you don’t find that subject at all. Today you teach only information about how to become rich, how to become successful in life and not the real values of life. The movement is very good. Because that’s what will create another type of awareness to the people. I support such movements.

4. Do you feel that it is an issue that plagues all the metro cities in this country?

Yes. I think it is. Metros are the biggest victims of these types of things (incidents). Because a lot of migration takes place. People don’t come with the family. They come alone. They stay alone. And the manly desire is always there. And so when a gathering is there people come out. Yes, metros (in) it is much more than the other places. In the rural areas the people will take care of that. Whereas in a metro (people are) totally unconcerned about what is happening. People take advantage of that. You are right. In metros it happens much more than other areas.

5. The moment any untoward incident happens, the general public opinion is that there is a break down in the Law and Order machinery. Your views on it.

I don’t agree with that. These incidents take place without any preparation. Nobody knows about the planning even if it is done. These are incidents that take place because of the mass gathering. It takes place spontaneously. You can’t have thousand policemen to control thousand people. It is impossible. And from what I read in the papers, Brigade Road had a couple of thousands of people all jammed together in one place. How can a policeman stop it? I don’t believe that the law and order has failed in this.

6. Many political leaders and well-known personalities have openly stated to the media that the onus lies on the woman. Right from the way she dresses to the timings of her outings to limiting her interaction with the opposite sex. Does it talk about a mindset?

It talks about a mindset. According to me, it is somewhat of a perverted mindset. You want women to be in burqa inside the house only and not to come out? Things have changed. They have the same rights as men. Why do you blame (them)?  There are men who come out in the rural areas with their ‘kacchas’ tied in such indecent manner. But that’s a fashion there in that village.

7. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Malini Krishnamaurty, Inspector General of Police, Karnataka Special Reserve Police. A friend of mine had written a piece on the helpline number 1091 not working and when we met her at town hall during a protest, she said that she was not aware about it till it was brought to her attention. She also said that there are other numbers through which one can contact the police. If the basic helpline number does not work during any emergency, what does it say sir?

It shows utter lack of responsibility to say that the number is not working! I was watching a program yesterday where they tried every helpline number, which was there and only one answered out of 10.

8. As far as punishment goes, do you think the punishment for violence against women should be more stringent?

As it is, it is quite stringent. Under Section 376, they have amended punishment, which is much more than what it used to be earlier. But nobody is afraid of punishment. We have to have a system especially in criminal law where punishment should be awarded within maximum 6 months time. It is not unknown to have a system like this. We need to increase the number of courts and change the procedural laws. I have been talking from the rooftop that these types of procedural laws have become archaic. You can’t now have it in the system.

One another example I will give you. If 10 people watch an incident that is taking place, maybe a rape, an accident or a murder, the jurisprudence requires that court should be convinced that a person has committed a crime. And if there is a doubt about it, the benefit of doubt goes to the accused. If 10 people are there, 5 people may not be available to come to provide evidence. So you examine only 5 people. 5 people speak about the incident. Then the lawyer will say “why only these 5 people are chosen? If the other 5 were brought I am sure that they would have said something in the contrary. ”  So you create a benefit of doubt in the mind of the court and get an acquittal. There are many such loopholes in the systems that have to be controlled.

9. You spoke about power and money. In most of the cases, especially rape cases, even if someone is prosecuted, they belong to the lower income section of the society. And the richer bigger fishes always escape. Is there a way by which the richer people with power and money can be brought to justice?

The prosecuting agency must have a good lawyer. Today that doesn’t happen. The rich and the powerful have money so they engage the best of lawyers. And normally these posts to defend the state cases go to certain people by someone’s recommendation. Normally what happens is that they bring influences and people with not much legal acumen go

Normally what happens is that they bring influences and people with not much legal acumen go into the system. Prosecuting criminals with this kind of legal system is very difficult. Unless you have a competent lawyer who is capable of convincing the court about the gravity of the offense and the need for a higher punishment, it will be a challenge.

 

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6 Comments

  1. […] as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore […]

  2. […] as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore […]

  3. […] as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore […]

  4. […] as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore […]

  5. […] as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore […]

  6. […] such as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore […]

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