"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, July 13, 2015

India: MPs, leaders seek repeal of capital punishment

Cutting across the party lines, the members of Parliament (MPs) and political leaders on Saturday favoured the abolition of death penalty from the country's statute and sought the Law Commission to submit a report suggesting for repeal of the capital punishment.

As per last 15 years' data, prepared by the National Law University, a total number of 1,617 death penalties have been awarded by the trial courts, but only three executions. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list, awarding death penalty in 79 cases, followed by Delhi with 30 cases.

Participating in a day-long consultation, organised by the apex law panel on the issue, Congress leaders Manish Tiwari and Shashi Tharoor, BJP's Varun Gandhi, CPM's Vrinda Karat and DMK's Kanimozhi supported the move to revisit the commission's previous report suggesting for retention of the penal provision.

In his inaugural address, former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, voiced in support of repeal and said, "death penalty is judicial murder and no responsible state would adopt judicial murder in retaliation. The judicial architects must not allow the political folly to disfigure its architectural landscape."

"Death penalty should go. State is to protect the life of people, not to take it away in retaliation," he said terming the capital punishment as 'most obnoxious fruit'.

Concurring with him, Varun Gandhi said the deterrent punishment is counter-productive politically as well as socially as the guilty becomes a martyr and gets sympathy from various quarters. "They were portrayed as heros or poster boys," the BJP MP said and suggested life imprisonment as an alternative measure.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also supported his view and opposed the capital punishment in the light of changing laws across the globe.

Former union minister Manish Tiwari, however, opined that most of the cases are socially and economically biased and the entire criminal justice system needed to be reviewed.

Blaming the political leaders for not debating the issue, CPM leader Vrinda Karat said "large number of parliamentarians do not want to abolish death penalty. We need to open a political discussion."

Further, she raised the issue that in crime against women cases, the conviction is low. "Due to political pressure, the investigating agencies protect the culprits and the need of the time is political intervention," she said.

AAP leader Ashish Khaitan said the probe agency sometime comes under the public pressure and book persons who had rare link to the crime. He cited the cases of Narodapatia in Godhra train incident.

Some eminent lawyers including noted criminal lawyer Majid Memon also spoke against the death penalty except Supreme Court Bar Association president Dushyant Dave, who demanded retention of the punishment in the light of terror threats to the country.

Source: DNA India, July 12, 2015


Death penalty is privilege of poor, says Law Commission head

Noting that poor and downtrodden usually go to the gallows, Chairman of the Law Commission of India Justice A P Shah has said there was a "serious" need to re-examine the death penalty in the country.

"It is usually the poor and downtrodden who are subject to death penalty.

Death penalty is the privilege of the poor. "There are inconsistencies in the system and there is a need for an alternative model to sentencing crimes and a serious need to re-examine the death penalty in India," Justice Shah, a former Delhi High Court Judge, said.

Justice Shah was speaking at a lecture on 'Universal Abolition of Death Penalty: A Human Rights Imperative', by Professor Roger Hood of University of Oxford. The event was organised by Law Commission of India in association with O P Jindal Global University (OPJGU) and National Law University.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of OPJGU, said, "The most significant aspect of death penalty is its irreversibility. India's penal and criminal jurisprudence calls for inquiry and reflection in the morality and effectiveness of death penalty and needs to move towards ultimate abolishment."

Expressing his views, Professor Hood pointed out that only 2 executions have been carried out by India since 2004, both for terrorist attack --- that of Ajmal Kasab in 2012 and Afzal Guru in 2013.

"In both the cases, the executive was criticised for carrying out the executions on secrecy and failing to ensure that due regard was accorded to human dignity," he said and questioned if it was justifiable to retain death penalty for such crimes.

Source: oneindia.com, July 12, 2015

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