That law is to be applied equally to all is a basic tenet of a just government system and is presumably acceptable to all progressive people.
There have also been calls for this rich and reckless teenager to be tried as an adult as in the case of juveniles involved in crimes like rape and murder.
This, it is assumed, is because punishing juveniles as adults will stop cases of deadly accidents. This is the same emotional response to a structural problem of enforcement of traffic laws as in the case of crimes against women. Since the Nirbhaya rape case, these juveniles been demonised by the police, sections of the media and even the Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, and have been portrayed as the largest threat to law and order and particularly women’s safety.
This sustained campaign successfully culminated with the passage of the regressive and counter-productive JJ Act of 2015 which will send children to adult prisons when convicted in cases of crimes like rape, murder, drug-trafficking and robbery. It will also send those juveniles who have run away with their lovers or have had consensual sex as the law bans intercourse till the age of 18 years.
If we allow mob-justice and public pressure to influence laws and law-making then the day is not far when we will start trying all children as adults.
We need solutions not retribution.
Siddharth’s family needs justice so that no more Siddharths lose their lives in such accidents. For that, we need to calm down and ask ourselves, “how do we prevent accidents?” and not “how can we punish the juvenile as an adult?”
This boy has a history of reckless driving, and if the police had taken stricter action before, it is possible that Siddharth Sharma would still be alive.
Did the Delhi police provide any counselling to the boy’s father when he was caught earlier?
The apathy towards law is not the forte of only the rich and powerful, it is deeply embedded among us because we know that we can manipulate the system and the police with money and power.
The father of the 12th class boy whose joyride brought a tragic end to Siddharth’s life has tried every trick in the book to protect his son and himself from facing the law. First, he sent his driver to falsely admit that it was he who was driving the car at the time of the accident. It has also emerged that that the ‘Raja Beta’ was a repeat offender who was challaned thrice by Delhi traffic police last year for over-speeding and wrong parking. Sounds like a stereotypical Delhi brat who’s opening sentence is, “Tu jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai?”(Do you know who my father is?)
Did the Delhi police do anything to ensure that the spoilt son of a rich father was banned from driving till he had displayed responsible driving and road manners?
The Delhi police has charged the boy and his ‘sweetly supportive’ father of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and this is the harshest section under the existing law.
The answers to these questions will perhaps be lost in the din of popular outcry calling for the juvenile to be punished as an adult. In this backdrop of a largely anti-juvenile police and media establishment, there is always a risk of causing permanent damage to both the idea of justice and moving backwards to a retributive justice model when real solutions lie in a holistic approach to both driving and parenting.