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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…

Madras HC confirms Chennai techie's death penalty for raping, killing 7-yr-old

S Dhasvanth
The high court upheld the February 19 order of the Mahila court, awarding death penalty to S Dhasvanth, an engineering graduate.

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday confirmed the death sentence awarded to a 23-year-old techie by a lower court for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl here in 2017.

A division bench of justices S Vimala and Ramathilagam upheld the February 19 order of the Mahila court in neighbouring Chengalpattu, awarding death penalty to S Dhasvanth, an engineering graduate.

The bench was dismissing an appeal filed by Dhasvanth, who had challenged the trial court order convicting him in the rape-and-murder case of the seven-year-old girl, who was his neighbour, in February 2017.

The crime had triggered a public outcry and Dhasvanth had faced the ire of a group of women, who assaulted him when he was brought to the lower court for trial.

According to the prosecution, the convict had lured the girl into his flat at Mugalivakkam, using a dog, and strangled her to death after raping her.

The convict had then dumped the body in a travel bag and subsequently, burnt it on a highway.

He was held guilty for offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Mahila Court judge Justice P Velmurugan, while holding Dhasvanth guilty, had referred to the sensational Nirbhaya gangrape-and-murder case in Delhi and said the instant case merited a death sentence.

Incidentally, the high court verdict came a day after the Supreme Court dismissed the pleas filed by three of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case, seeking a review of the top court's verdict upholding the death penalty awarded to them for the gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedic student on December 16, 2012.

In his appeal, Dhasvanth had contended that the trial court judge had grossly erred in finding him guilty on the basis of conjectures and surmises not amounting to evidence.

During the pendency of the case, Dhasvanth was also charged with the murder of his mother.

While out on bail in the rape-and-murder case, he had allegedly killed his mother and fled with her jewellery in December last year, before being caught in Mumbai. The proceedings in the case are pending in a court.

Source: Press Trust of India, July 10, 2018


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