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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

India: SC to rehear death row convict's plea

India's Supreme Court
India's Supreme Court
The Supreme Court today agreed to re-hear the plea of Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Arif, alias Ashfaq, seeking review of the death sentence awarded to him for his role in the attack on an Army battalion at Red Fort here in 2000.

A 5-member Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the review plea would be heard in open court by a Bench of 3 judges in the light of another Constitution Bench ruling in September 2014 acknowledging the need for transparency in such hearings.

Ashfaq's counsel pleaded that his client had been convicted only for conspiracy and was not part of the terror team that had mounted the attack, killing 3 jawans. 

Further, Ashfaq was the only death-row convict who could not take advantage of the 2014 SC verdict as his curative petition had been dismissed ahead of that, he contended and pleaded for open court hearing by relaxing the norm.

Confirming the death sentence awarded to Ashfaq, the SC had ruled on August 10, 2011 that he did not deserve anything less as he was part of both the conspiracy to wage a war against India and its execution. 

During the hearing of the appeal, Ashfaq could not cite a single mitigating circumstance warranting commutation of the death penalty, the apex court had pointed out.

In all, 6 militants had sneaked into the fort on December 22, 2000, and opened indiscriminate fire, killing 3. After the attack, all of them escaped by scaling the rear boundary wall of the 17th century monument.

Source: tribuneindia.com, January 20, 2016

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