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C O M M U N I T Y : S E R V I C E
In penal gratitude
Shift from punishment to reformation...

Given the plethora of cases in India, one unexplored potential relates to the creation of alternative sentencing mechanism. Many of the cases being petty in nature, it is worthwhile creating a constructive alternative based on community service to imprisonment and imposition of fine. Former Chief Justice Supreme Court of India, J.S. Verma agrees while speaking to TSI, “Alternative or rather reformatory system of justice should be explored in India in a major way. The motive should shift from punishment to rehabilitation of the guilty to make them useful citizens of India”.

Correction then becomes mandatory at all ends including law, enforcement agencies, judiciary and also the penal administration. Addition of old age homes, orphanages and local municipalities as correctional centres to the existing setup has the great potential of adding responsibility to the perpetrators of minor crimes. M.N. Krisnamani, President, Supreme Court Bar Association concurs while speaking to TSI, “There is an all out support from the lawyers for the same but sufficient law has to be in place for that.” It must be mentioned here that the only law in the country that has any scope of community service is the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. So what prevents creation of such a mechanism? Civil Rights activist Vinay Kanth, speaking to TSI, argues, “It is essential to change the ambience of places that have higher interface with the public. If banks now have a customer friendly look, what prevents courts and thanas to have the same?”

The possibility of entrusting minor offenders with responsibilities like traffic management, cooking at an old-age home or teaching at government schools under supervision has to be looked into. The concept might appear far-off and distant but the time has definitely come to explore and implement it to the fullest.

Kumar Anuj

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