INDORE – Naveen Gadke was arrested on 20 April and charged with the rape and murder of a baby girl in central India.

Three weeks later a court sentenced the 26-year-old odd-job man to death, this is the fastest such trial known to have happened in modern India. Tensions are running a high as pubic outrage continues because of a series of rapes and related killings.

To work on a quick conviction, police, prosecutors and the district court in the city of Indore worked at a furious pace, amidst a backlash on the streets, including marches in this city of about 2 million, 550 miles south of Delhi.

According to governance tracking group Daksh, India is a country where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government last month introduced the death penalty for rapes of girls under 12 years in response to public pressure, however it is notoriously slow court system, with cases that can at least six years on average to have final ruling.

But this trial was different, the increasing push for speedy hearings in rape cases, and questions about the legal defence provided to Gadke who pleaded not guilty raised concerns among some legal rights advocates.

They fear there will be wrongful convictions and death sentences (hangings), especially when a defendant cannot afford to hire a good lawyer.

Leah Verghese a senior campaigner at human rights group Amnesty International India said, “While expeditious trials are ideal, these should not be at the cost of fair trial safeguards like the right to adequate time to prepare a defence and the presumption of innocence.”

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Rebecca John said she too is concerned she said,  “As a principle, I am opposed to rushing through investigative processes and trial processes. ”

Well-known Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave who is reflecting the majority views in the country and a vocal supporter of capital punishment, said India “needs to send at least 500 people to death in the next one year to end this endemic” of rape.

He added, “Our system is archaic and extremely inefficient.”

Dushyant views resonated with the mother of the dead three-month-old girl as she sat on the front yard of a 200-year-old palace where her homeless family sleeps in the open.

Speaking to Reuters she said was happy with the swift verdict but felt her daughter would only get justice when Gadke is hung to death, just as quickly.

She said, “Once such men are hanged, no one will dare to do anything like this to any girl.”

Under Indian law ape victims and their families cannot be identified.

The home ministry directive, journalists can not speak to convicts.

Sachin Verma, Gadke’s lawyer, said his client told him that his estranged wife “framed” him, but said little else.

Photo Credit- The Star online

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