Wrong is wrong even if said by a Chief Justice. Justice Brennan of Supreme Court of USA was wrong when in 1981 he said “I believe that a majority of the Supreme Court will one day accept that when the State punishes with death, it denies the humanity and dignity of the victim.”
Let us not talk of reforming criminals. When murderers are not punished with death many people who would not have committed murder commit murder.
In 1980 the Supreme Court in the Bachchan Singh vs State of Punjab case set the standard of death penalty being awarded in the “rarest of rare” cases. After that murders became open. Court, lock up, hospital, railway station and other places full of people would not deter criminals.
Since independence 55 persons were hanged for murder. This number is insignificant considering the number of people murdered which does not include murders passed off as accidents, suicides and natural deaths.
There should be Presidential accountability. K. R. Narayan kept 12 mercy petitions pending. This is dereliction of duty. He should be deprived of pension and other benefits due as Ex-President.
Many escape death penalty does not mean those who are sentenced should be let off. Being poorest of the poor or Dalit does not mean the murderer should be treated differently.
Let us examine some of the mercy petitions pending:
2) Veerappan‘s juniors. These four were part of a gang headed by Veerappan which killed 122 people. Veerappan had escaped from prison. In 2000 he kidnapped Raj Kumar and Karnataka was ready to surrender to him. Supreme Court prevented it. Later Veerappan got ransom. Figures vary from Rs.20 crore to Rs.40 crore. Later an ex-minister was killed.
3) Punjab terrorists. These four killed 17 people including a seven year old child in 1991 near Amritsar.
The damage done by the above mentioned and similar murderers is immense.
The people opposed to death penalty twist statistics to show that murders have gone down after abolition of death penalty. Rajinder Sachar wrote in Times of India dt. 26/10/2005 “In Canada, the homicide rate declined after the abolition of death penalty in 1976. In 2000, there were 542 homicides in Canada, 16 less than in 1998 and 159 less than in 1975 (a year prior to the abolition of capital punishment). There is difference between murder and homicide. Will Rajinder Sachar give the figure for murders in 1985 including 329 killed in Kanishka bombing? The murderers had planned to blow up another plane carrying more than 500 passengers and crew(520 or 521) which landed before scheduled time and the people were saved.
If the President feels it is a matter of conscience he should quit.
Chief Justice Ramesh Chandra Lahoti on 31/10/2005, his last day in office, justifying death penalty and referring to Delhi blasts on 29/10/2005, said “What other penalty would suit perpetrators of such brutal acts? What other penalty is called for if the crime is proved beyond reasonable doubt? What happens is that, we forget the past. We see only the face of the accused, who is before us and his family. We forget the victims and their families.”
Let there be death penalty for every murder.