I have long held the view that when it comes to all matters ridiculous, the Shiv Sena and the MNS are usually at the head of the pack. For two parties that are constantly at loggerheads, they seem to be in agreement on one thing – Maria Susairaj should never act again.
While the representative from the MNS says, “Maria is convicted for a heinous crime and we will not allow her to work at any cost”, the Shiv Sena says, “People with a criminal background come out of the jail and become stars in television shows”. This of course coming from two parties which have never thought twice about fielding candidates who have criminal records and convictions. Apparently, you need an “untainted” record to work in television but can be a career criminal for the simple task of running a state.
And so the parties try to dictate terms to producers like Ram Gopal Varma about whom he chooses to cast in his movies. If every convicted criminal were to be prevented from working after serving a sentence, at least the Lok Sabha would have fewer scams to worry about.
The important issue that is raised here is, when does a criminal completely pay off his debt to society? Susairaj, was convicted not for murder but for destruction of evidence was sentenced to three years. She has already been jailed for that period of time and has been let go. In the eyes of the law, it is immaterial how grisly a crime and how much publicity it garners. The fact remains that an eminent member of the judiciary, which is one of the last respectable institutions in India, decided that her crime merited a certain sentence and delivered the said judgement.
But it is never that simple. As if one judgement is not enough, a convicted criminal is judged by every single person he comes in contact with. They find it difficult to get employment, to rejoin society as they left it and are subject to prejudice.
Some may say that they ought to have thought about it before they broke the law but the question is, is it really society to whom criminals owe a debt? To some extent, a punishment can be viewed as a surety that criminals offer in exchange for being reintegrated into society. But is it so simple?
Susairaj will soon pass out of public consciousness and so will the murder of Neeraj Grover but wherever she goes, the fact that Maria was part of something horrific might probably never let her be at peace with herself. The debt to yourself is surely one that can never be repaid in full.