Courts shouldn’t give benefit of doubt to rapists

Dhananjay has been hung. However, it is regrettable that in India, some people, for the same crime, are given the benefit of doubt by the courts and acquitted of the charge. For instance, Santosh Kumar Singh, son of J.P. Singh, an IPS officer, was acquitted of the rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo, though there was sufficient evidence to convict him. Singh had been stalking her for quite some time. Priyadarshini, a law student, was raped and strangled with a cord on January 23, 1996 at her Vasant Kunj residence in New Delhi.

While the CBI's role in handling her case is not above suspicion, it maintained in its review petition that the lower court's judgement on Santosh's acquittal was flawed as the CBI had proved that Santosh had committed the murder. Moreover, Mr. G.P. Thareja, Additional Sessions Judge handling this case, ruled thus: "Though I knew he (Santosh Kumar Singh) is the man who committed the crime, I acquit him, giving him the benefit of the doubt".

Taking all these facts into consideration, the President and the Prime Minister, both of whom are persons of eminence and reputation, should ensure that justice is delivered in this case.

Dr UPINDER FOTADAR, Research Scientist, New York University, New York




Socialism enshrined in our Constitution ensures security from cradle to grave. Providing security to the dependent family members of Dhananjay Chatterjee is a co-related constitutional requirement. For the unintended penalty of 14 years imprisonment (equivalent to life term), Dhananjay's family needs to be compensated by the government both in terms of life pension to his widow from the date of imprisonment (March 5, 1990) and compassionate appointment to one of the members of his family.

This is one way of ensuring that while Dhananjay stood fully penalised in the eyes of the law, the right to life of his family members are enforced in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Constitution.

ONKAR SINGH RIAR, Sun Valley, Nevada (USA)


Dhananjay Chatterjee's hanging was unfair. Its ramifications have been felt in 79 countries where capital punishment has been abolished. Social workers, NGOs, psycho analysts etc., should find out the curative and preventable measures and introduce the same in primary education and other forums to check this malaise.

There is nothing like forgiveness, a strong undercurrent in our cultural and religious ethos. The spirituality that we are so proud of teaches us to extend the other cheek when hit at one. In the country of Buddha, Mahavir, Nanak and Gandhi, capital punishment is anachronistic and hence should be abolished.

Dhananjay had undergone extreme mental torture for 14 years in jail and was sentenced to death, staring at his face all the time and finally dumped dead on Aug 14. Life sentence would have been enough at this stage, keeping in view his family and old parents. All religious people say that life and death are in the hands of God. Then, why and how, humans should be allowed to intervene in God's bastion? India must abolish capital punishment.

B.M. SINGH, Amritsar


All the judicial courts should follow the verdict of the Supreme Court in Dhananjay Chatterjee's case as a guideline. Our President's refusal to grant clemency to him was because of his immense love and affection for the children. Death sentence should be a lesson for those who commit such crimes.

S.K. HANS, Jalandhar


Dhananjay had tried to take advantage of the loopholes in the law to escape from the gallows but in vain. I do not agree with human rights activists who made a hue and cry for clemency in such cases. I would instead favour speedy justice for such criminals.

Justice after such a long time seems to lose its real meaning for the victim's family. Such cases should be treated as rarest of rare by the courts and disposed of promptly. Capital punishment helps as a strong deterrent.

BANSI RAM, Chakhajipur (Hoshiarpur)


A society that cannot protect its young, innocent and sweet girls is a failed society. This type of crime (it should be called "sexual assault" and not "rape" because of the age group of the victims in general) should receive condign punishment like hanging to act as a strong deterrent.

J.D. SINGH, Ottawa (Canada)

Need to help retirees

Apropos of the news item "High-yielding scheme for senior citizens" (August 4), the scheme is not exactly "high-yielding", in the sense that the interest is not all that substantial and it is not tax-free. In the average 20 per cent tax block, in which the majority will fall, the net yield will be 7.2 per cent, which can hardly be called high.

Another lacuna in the scheme is that, though the age for VRS optees has been reduced to 55, those who retire before 60 have been ignored. The civil servants, who retire at 60, and the defence personnel, who retire even before this age, will have to find some other way of investing their money till they turn 60. Whereas defence personnel are compulsorily retired at a lower age, VRS optees quit on their own. Hence, defence retirees should have been given priority over VRS optees. I recommend that those who retire at the prescribed age should be treated eligible for this scheme.

Lt-Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh


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