Sunday, June 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Death penalty is barbaric and pagan

These words of Lawrence Housman's Hangman rang in my ears while reading the articles on “Should capital punishment be scrapped from the statute?” (June 8):

The last time... we hanged a man...innocent...the truth shows clearer on the drop sometimes than in the witness-box. If ‘it was part of the law that in at the death, there’d be more acquittals, sir.’

Like the Hangman's, the arguments advanced by Justice Kuldip Singh and Justice Ajit Singh Bains are an acknowledgement of the fallibility of human judgement. To err is human after all. These and other voices favouring the abolition of capital punishment are not voices pro-criminal or voices advocating leniency towards criminals. They are instead voices pro-humaneness, pro-compassion and pro-innocence, voices of concern for those after-the-execution of-the-death-sentence- found-innocent who are sacrificed at the alter of law.

On the other hand, Dr V. Eshwar Anand’s call for examining the issue in a dispassionate manner seems to be just a defensive argument. If the lex talionis principle as he advocates is to be followed, then should not the judges who wrongly pronounce capital punishment onto innocents be themselves hanged once their mistake gets discovered? More so the very purpose of punishment which is to correct the erring individual gets defeated if the individual is not given a chance to improve.


Nothing can be a severer punishment than making a criminal ‘live’ with the guilt of having done some heinous crime by virtue of life imprisonment. Life imprisonment, if wrongly pronounced, can be condoned too. Taking away from somebody his life, even if justifiable by law, is barbaric and pagan.

If we can't warrantee that innocents won't fall victims to a law meant to protect them, we can't be entitled to continue to murder in cold blood, for that is what capital punishment amounts to, in the name of the so-called human-made-law.



Apropos of the debate “Should capital punishment be scrapped from the statute?” (June 8), both Justice Kuldip Singh and Justice Bains have supported the idea of scrapping capital punishment. But they have stressed only one point that it is irreversible and it can't be recalled even if it is discovered later that the accused was innocent.

I would like to ask the learned former judges how many cases were re-opened after they were finalised by the competent authority. It may be an investigation agency, the judiciary or an executive agency. All of them are overburdened with workload.

Once a case is finalised at the highest level, it is rarely reopened even if it is discovered that the case has been wrongly decided. So, whether it is capital punishment or life imprisonment, it is not likely to be reversed once it is decided at the highest level. This is all the more reason why capital punishment should not be abolished from the statute.

Apparently, the writers showed more concern towards the criminal rather than the victim. How many people think of an innocent person killed by a criminal? In case the criminal is not given capital punishment even when the offence is proved, what justification can be given to the widow/ son/ daughter of the victim by society when the killer roams around freely in the same town after his release?

The opinion that only God has the right to give and take the life of a person should be applicable to both the victim and the criminal equally.

If the criminal has a right to take the life of an innocent victim, why his life cannot be taken under the due processes of law?


Save universities

This has reference to Professor Vikram Chadha's article “Save varsities from bureaucratisation” (June 22). Bureaucratisation and politicisation have eroded the intellectual and academic ethos of the universities.

Nowadays, the universities have become the last choice of the youth. The university faculty positions also do not attract the cream of society. Brilliant students opt for other professions, but not the faculty positions. Trends in job preferences indicate the students’ priority for power, status and assured economic gains.

“Holistic education” has to be a “process” for those imparting and taking it to achieve value-added and value-based education, something like the gurukul system. Lack of vision amongst our teachers has led to the present sorry state of affairs in the universities.

Honestly speaking, quality education, ethical values are all inbuilt in the present education system for both the teacher and the taught. All we need is to take the initiative and make it operational.

Universities are cradles of civilisation for mankind and no society should ignore the signals of this rot for the sake of the prosperity of their progenitors.

Dr S.K. MANN, Ludhiana


The articles on the problems in institutions of higher learning by Professor Vikram Chadha and Mr Bhupinder Singh Khaira (June 22) were timely and enlightening.

One gets an indication of the seriousness of the crisis in the news item on the very first page in the same issue about the “massive fee hike” approved by the Punjabi University Syndicate after a decision in this regard taken by the Punjab government. Other universities in the region are bound to follow suit. Suffice it to mention, the Haryana government has rightly rejected suggestions to increase the fees in the colleges in the state.

We, as a democratic nation, chose the path of gradual and steady progress towards justice, equality and security for all. Education, which would empower the individual vocationally as well as holistically, is the primary instrument of that progress. We would hardly be serving society or fulfilling our responsibility by making higher education inaccessible.

Mr Khaira rightly terms the commodification of education as “dhan”. Such a crude inversion of our traditional wisdom and the gradual conversion of our institutions of higher learning into shops appear highly lamentable.

The Punjab Chief Minister should reconsider decisions affecting higher education very seriously for better educational and career avenues for Punjab.

YUBEE GILL, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |