Priyadarshini's Parents Disillusioned by Judicial System

Priyadarshini's Parents Disillusioned by Judicial System
More than 15 years after the rape and murder of law student Priyadarshini Mattoo by a stalker in the national capital, her mother today said the long wait for justice and "less" quantum of punishment for the killer had shattered her faith in the system.

"It would have been more appropriate for my husband to say this, but he now feels completely disillusioned with the judicial system and has chosen to remain silent," Rageshwari Mattoo, a retired principal, told a gathering of former jurists at a seminar here.

"We had to endure tremendous stress by following this case for 14 long years and face the unpredictability of the justice system," she said.

The seminar was organised by Priyadarshani Mattoo Memorial Foundation For Performing Arts, the trust run by the family of Priyadarshini. The theme of the seminar included, "Is criminal justice system of India under collapse?", "Are women safe in India?" and "Did Priyadarshini get justice?".

On January 23, 1996, 23-year-old Kashmiri girl Priyadarshini, a law student in Delhi, was raped and killed by Santosh Singh, son of a police Inspector General, leading to registration of FIR by the Delhi Police.

The case was later handed over to the CBI, which filed a charge sheet against Singh in the same year. In 2006, he was awarded death sentence by the Delhi High Court. Singh filed a plea in the Supreme Court challenging the sentence which commuted it to life term, much to the disappointment of the family.

Rageshwari said it was incumbent upon her to raise the awareness about the injustice meted out to her daughter and the crimes committed against women.

Lamenting the commuting of punishment for the convict, she said the justice was not yet delivered. "I chose to remain silent for the first 13 years because as a mother I found it unbearable to speak about it in the public."

Rageshwari said despite their case being strong, they had to wait for 14 years for justice. "For 14 years we waited in agony."

Today would have been Priyadarshini's 38th birthday.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, the chief guest at the seminar, said the tragedy the Mattoos faced is "too deep for tears".

Calling for police reforms, Vohra said, "Politicisation of police is a tragedy beyond repair".

Former High Court Chief Justice Bilal Nazki, who presided over the seminar, said the problem lied in the fact that policing mechanism has gone severely wrong in the country.

"We have public prosecutors who are political workers, we have an insufficient police and we have an incompetent police," Justice Nazki said.

In a brief but passionate speech, Javed Shabnam, father of a girl who was killed when her stalker ran his car over her, said he will fight throughout his life to protect the right to life with dignity for girls.
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