mid-day editorial: Community service is no joke

Apr 14, 2016, 07:40 IST | MiD DAY Correspondent

The Bombay High Court’s decision to introduce community service as punishment in police cases was a noble and positive move, but it has been repaid with utter disregard.

The HC had quashed the rioting case against two groups of youngsters and ordered them to clean a school and a railways station for three months. But far from being grateful, the youths simply snubbed the court’s order.

The front-page report in this paper yesterday highlighted how one group had not even reported for its punishment at the station, while the other group was found lounging about and whiling away time instead of cleaning the school premises.

As a society, we need the maturity to see the wisdom and opportunity that community service offers.

We must respect the court and its magnanimity in quashing a police case and the more serious punishments that come with it. The youths should have used this chance to try and learn something and redeem themselves but did the exact opposite.

It’s equally important to ensure that if community service is imposed, it must be monitored to ensure it is done in a proper manner. When this paper’s reporter dropped in to check if the service was actually being carried out, there was no one there to supervise or to account for the lapses.

Community service cannot be dismissed in such a cavalier manner. There has to be a senior in-charge to see that the given tasks are performed, and the requisite number of hours are put in. There must be zero tolerance for cutting corners. Community service needs to be awarded the same seriousness as any other punishment and the orders have to be carried out to the letter.

If community service is shrugged off flippantly, the penalties must be doubled and absent supervisors should be hauled up as well.

Community service is a ‘reprieve’ in a way, but those who treat it with disrespect must be made to bear the brunt through harsh punitive action.

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