Who will Reform the Criminals?

In Search of Reformative Justice, Pranay Prashar Report for BeyondHeadlines

This gruesome incident, although common occurred when I had boarded bus No 429 from vicinity of Old Delhi railway incident and finding all seats preoccupied, adjusted me in gallery, supported by elevated platform. Near me stood Kyamuddin, a frail man with squeezed face, and a girl dressed in yellow tops but to be honest I didn’t’ noticed color of her jeans.

While I was relishing (with my eyes closed) Gazals sung  by Gulam Ali, a boy about 18 appeared from nowhere and inserted himself forcibly between me and Kyamuddin. I opened my eyes to ascertain his intentions. His personality wandered miles away from that a decent boy. Ruffled hairs, wandering eyes, embarrassed face, and mutilated clothes gave me an impression of him being a pickpocket. Instantly I signaled to him that I was ‘consciously’ awake. Apprehending my judgment he displaced far from me .He then unsuccessfully attempted to steal contents of another young man’s pocket standing beside him. Realizing what was going on, this young man clubbed both his hands and slapped and abused him incessantly. Two three other boys waged past through me and hurled upon him a volley of punches, kicks and slaps. He turned black and blue and blood started to ooze out of his mouth. Sensing trouble he was evicted from bus.

After restoration of calm I asked Kyamuddin whether this punishment will teach him a lesson not to repeat his dastardly act again. Kyamudddin out rightly rejected my assertion and further added that tortured at the hand of humiliation, guilt of failure will prompt him to prove himself good at this profession again. Two questions instantly raided faculties of my mind. One, if this treatment will not deter him, what was the use of it and what should be prescribed then? Another, why so many people jumped into foray to test their strength on this pitiful creature?



It has been proved time and again that all crimes are committed under the state of “psychological imbalance” caused by different factors. Dostoyevsky astutely conveyed the point through “Crime and Punishment”. In the light of this knowledge search for reasons becomes imperative. Why and in what situation crime was committed, what were justifications suggested, if any by the perpetrator?  Pondering over these questions prepares a background to understand the cause of tragedies. Lack of education, moral and ethical degradation, economic hardships and easy way to earn money lie at the root of small crimes such as loot, pick-pocketing and chain snatching etc. Disparity in wealth distribution, attraction to lavish and exuberant life style prompts teenagers to adopt unethical ways to earn easy money.

The second aspect of problem is an insidious frustration coupled with anger that is brewing up in common masses, reason being the flaws in justice delivery system. People now believe that no purpose will be solved by approaching the ‘over archaic’ police administration or ‘tortoise paced’ justice system. Rather than wasting time and money in due processes they find it better to disburse the “justice” at their own even if it leads to deplorable human right violations.

If steps are not taken to reinvigorate justice delivery system, ramifications can be unimaginably harsh. Nation might be plunged in a dismal state of spontaneous violence that might put our democracy in peril.


What shall we do?

All of us witness similar incidents in our daily lives but we tend to ignore suspecting moral bankruptcy of people involved. What we need is introspection, a soul searching for the reasons that lead to the culmination of such problems. We ought to take a rather sympathetic view and tread reformative path as Gandhiji said “Hate the crime not the criminal” as there is always a possibility of reform of the person involved. Even Shaheed Bhagat Singh espoused Reformative theory of jurisprudence “Reformative theory is now widely accepted and necessary for human progress. It aims at reforming the culprit and converting into a peace loving citizen”.

So it is a humble request to all fellow rational people to adhere to reformative practices rather than venting their ‘justified’ anger on less fortunate creatures. Many a crime can be averted and it will be a huge step forward for civilization, away from barbarism professed now in name of retributive and deterrent principles.  


(The writer is a B. Tech student at Jamia Millia Islamia. His email id is pranayparashar@gmail.com and Facebook Profile https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000592636247. The views expressed in this article are writer’s own, and it does not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.)



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