Sunday, June 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

Capital punishment must go

Apropos of the debate Should capital punishment be scrapped from the statute? (June 8), I endorse the views of Justice Kuldip Singh and Justice Ajit Singh Bains on the subject. People must understand that capital punishment is legalised murder as the state resorts to fake encounters when they feel that establishing a case shall be impossible. It must be stopped forthwith.

We all know that as long as the murder case is pending in the court, people's sympathy will be with the victim and his relatives left behind. But once death sentence is pronounced, sympathy goes down with the alleged accused.

We, the people of India, know the demeanor and standard of witnesses produced and therefore, none is sure that whatever has been given before the court is correct.

Most of the people do not feel happy when an alleged murderer is given death sentence. They start feeling that they have been left behind. So people's feelings must be given due recognition and we must stop capital punishment.

If we give an option to the near relatives of the deceased, most of them shall be favouring life imprisonment instead of capital punishment. As Indians, we believe in the theory of forgiveness and not of taking revenge. That spirit must be honoured.

DALIP SINGH WASAN, Advocate, Patiala



 


II

In some context it may be right to say that death penalty is barbaric and inhuman in its effect, both mental and physical, upon the condemned person because it makes any miscarriage of justice irrevocable. It has also been argued that the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will never allow human civilisation to flourish and progress. In one of his stories (The Bet) Anton Chekhov had highlighted the question of capital punishment and had concluded that to live anyhow is better than not to live at all and that the state has no right to take away from man what it cannot restore at will.

However, the antagonists of capital punishment forget that though the state has no right to take anyone's life, it has the duty of protecting people's life from being forcibly and brutally snatched by the anti-social criminal elements. I ask those human rights activists who advocate a treatment of leniency, human dignity and mercy to those criminals who have indulged in inhuman destruction of life and property: when these mercenaries of violence and hatred, motivated by no other instinct but of destruction, kill innocent women and children, helpless and unarmed old people, should we still show mercy and allow them a comfortable life behind bars and let them free after a few years to pose again a serious danger to human life? Dr V. Eshwar Anand is right that criminals deserve to be punished in proportion to the extent and severity of their crimes. And terrorists definitely deserve the most severe punishment i.e summary trial and execution.

Secondly, may I ask the antagonists what argument do they offer to the aggrieved party? Does the state have no duty towards the innocent, who have been killed by the anti-social elements or to those whose relatives were brutally killed by people guided by some communal or political frenzy or some personal vendetta? How do we justify our stand to such people that the state protects the life of law-abiding citizens?

No, capital punishment is needed to protect the society by deterring crime through example. Of course, it should be only in the rarest of the rare cases.

VED GULIANI, Hisar
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