“Not all scars show
Not all wounds heal
Not all illness can be seen
Not all pain is obvious
Remember this before passing Judgment on another”
It is with this verse by author David Avocado Wolfe that the Madras High Court began its judgement in the sexual assault and murder case of seven-year-old Hasini. Justices S Vimala and S Ramathilagam upheld the trial court's February verdict, which awarded 23-year-old Dhasvanth a death sentence. And through a 92-page-judgement they explained why the convict deserved nothing short of death for his heinous crime against a child.
The order, one of the most damning in the recent past, pulls at the heart strings. If at all there is a case that warrants death penalty, it is this one, the court observed.
Referring to the verse, the judges say, "This quote applies not only while judging the accused, but also while judging the plight of the victim, if we take into account, the innocence, ignorance and inexpressiveness of child. That is why it is said though ‘silent’ and ‘listen’ are words spelled with the same letters, but for listening the silent cry of the child, justice would be an impossibility. This is all the more true in the case of child sexual abuse, which itself is a silent crime."
The judges observe that the case illustrates the brutal and inhumane murder of the child, whose 'ambitions have been aborted and life aflamed'. Here, they refer to how the convict burnt the body of the child after he sexually assaulted and killed her.
The court further describes the pain of the parents in its lengthy order, pointing out that they left her out to play because they believed in humanity. It dismissed the argument that Hasini's parents couldn't identify her body.
"It is to be pointed out that parting with a daughter even at the joyful time of her marriage is very difficult for the parents. Even a joyful occasion gives pain to the heart of the parents, who have to part with their daughter, who was nourished and cherished by them. That being the case, parting with their child by way of death, that too in a very gruesome and barbaric manner, as in the case on hand, the pain that the hearts of the parents would suffer is beyond the comprehension of this Court to express in words," observed the judges. "Words are not adequate in any language to express the agony and pain that the parents would suffer in seeing their child being done to death in such an inhumane manner. No amount of sympathy can relieve the pain that the two souls would have gone through since the day they came to know about the eternal loss of their beloved daughter. In such a backdrop, the non-identification of the dead body by the parents cannot in any way jeopardize the case of the prosecution," they explained.
Moving on to their reasons for awarding death penalty, the court observed that the reformation of the accused was a distant dream. They referred to his alleged involvement in the murder of his mother in September last year.
"The accused escaped from the custody of the police and he had to be secured through the Mumbai Police. During the period of bail, he had even indulged in murdering his mother for which a case has been registered by the Kundrathur Police and the case has been committed to the Sessions and is awaiting trial; the above act of the accused clearly shows that reformation of the accused is a distant dream and, therefore, prudence should prevail in sentencing the accused to death," observed the court.
In Hasini's case, they pointed out that his effort to hide his crime were more disturbing than the murder itself.
"The diabolical ingenuity with which the body has been disposed off by the accused to ward of any attraction to him has led to the budding flower being reduced to ashes even before blossoming. The mindset of the accused to commit such a heinous act is more cruel than the act itself," points out the court.
Countering those who argue for the abolition of death penalty, the High Court raised the brutality of the crime committed.
"Those who argue for abolition of death penalty contend that the imposition of death penalty on the accused takes away the right to life as guaranteed to him under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Would not the act of violating physical space of women and children amount to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India for the women and children? Is not the safety and security and in fact the right to life of the larger mass more important than the right to life of a single individual? " asks the court.
It stated that while it was swayed by the arguments against capital punishment, the larger social implications had to be kept in mind.
"We concur with the reasoning offered by Brutus after assassination of Caesar in Shakespearean history Julius Caesar as follows: I loved Caesar less, by that I loved Rome more," said the order.
The court concludes, " Brutus’s statement essentially means that his love for the Roman citizens and the Roman public, outweighs his individual love and affinity for Julius Caesar. So, as our love for the society outweighing the love for the individual. This Court while confirming the death sentence imposed on the accused wish that the last second of this accused at the long end of the rope be the last second of end of the lust of potential offenders of the whole world towards womenfolk."
*TNM has been granted permission by Hasini’s father to use her real name.