Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Letter to Altamas Kabir

You disappoint me Altamas Kabir. You failed as CJI. You stayed the execution of 4 bandits who murdered 22 policemen. You should have dismissed the petition and fined the petitioner(s) for wasting court’s time. Instead you have given more time for murderers to live and families of victims to mourn.
On 16/2/2013 you refused to immediately take up the petition for staying the execution and there was hope. On 18/2/2013 you stayed the execution for two days in spite of objection by Attorney General. That was a setback for justice but I hoped you would vacate the stay on 20/2/2013 and executions will take place. Instead you extended the stay. You encroached on the territory of executive.
Remember these bandits belonged to Veerappan gang who had murdered many people. Sandalwood smuggling and elephant poaching were some of the other crimes he committed. He abducted Rajkumar in 2000 and held the state to ransom. Karnataka government was ready to release many prisoners. A former police officer, whose son had been attacked and murdered by Veerappan, challenged the release in Supreme Court. S. P. Bharucha was the CJI. He did not allow the release of prisoners. He told the government, if you cannot control people you quit. Veerappan had escaped from prison. If he had been hanged while in prison many murders and Rajkumar abduction would not have taken place.
Delay in deciding mercy petition is not cruel. There is no double punishment. Delayed time is bonus for criminals. They get to give longer. There is no anguish or psychological trauma. There is hope. It is wrong to entertain petitions related to death penalty decided by Supreme Court and rejected by President.
In 1980 five of your predecessors violated the constitution, crossed their limits, encroached on the territory of legislature, and restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases. After that murders went up. The brazenness with which murders take place is appalling. Murders take place in many places. Many people watch murders take place. Murders take place in railway stations, police lock-ups, bars, buses, schools and so on. The blood of victims cries to heaven for justice. Their family members cry. Please set aside that judgment and deliver a judgment that makes death penalty mandatory in all cases of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hijacking, kidnapping, acid throwing, piracy and other such high crimes.
It is a shame that there have been many judges who do not believe in death penalty. They have betrayed their position, profession, and the trust placed in them. They have reduced death penalty to life imprisonment in many cases. The convicts spend some years in jail and come out.
I expect you to know Jessica Lall, Naina Sahni, Priyadarshini Matto, Pratibha, and Delhi gang rape cases. Talk to Sabrina Lall, Neelam Katara, Neelam Krishnamurthy, Chamanlal Mattoo, and others who have lost their near and dear ones due to murder or negligence leading to death.
In Priyadarshini’s case the criminal had committed house breaking, rape and murder. High Court had awarded death penalty. Supreme Court reduced it life imprisonment. As Adiya Nath Kaul said on CNN-IBN on 8/10/2010 life sentence in India is a joke. He gave the example of Manu Sharma.
In Pratibha’s case fast track court took five years. It awarded life sentence for rape and murder. Pratibha’s mother and family members wanted death penalty to the murderer.
Opponents of death penalty engage in misinformation and disinformation.
First disinformation is that life sentence is worse than death penalty. It is not. Criminals don’t want to die and are happy to live in jail as long as they can. Some faint on the day of their hanging.
European Union (EU) countries have abolished death penalty. That is not a reason for India to abolish death penalty. We don’t have to follow EU countries. Some of them are bankrupt. Some are on the verge of bankruptcy. See the mess in England. During riots even rich people go to rob. In Norway some want death penalty for the terrorist who killed 76 people. China, USA, Japan and many other countries have death penalty. India is equal to all EU countries put together. EU is not paradise on earth.
Second disinformation is that murders have gone down in countries which abolished death penalty. Those who say that do not give any proof or lie about statistics.
Third disinformation is that death penalty does not serve any purpose of justice i.e., reformative, retributive and deterrent. Death penalty serves retributive and deterrent purposes. In Saudi Arabia there is stoning and beheading and murders and few. Murders went up in Mexico and South Africa after the stopped death penalty. Without death penalty you have contract murderers who murder for money. Every death penalty prevents three to eighteen murders as proved in an article in Newsweek some years back.
What is this talk of human rights? Are only murderers, rapists and other criminals human beings? Are not victims human beings? It is perverse to talk of murderers as human beings and ignore the sufferings of victims and their families.
Some say this is the country of Gandhi and oppose death penalty. Gandhi was in favour of death penalty. He did not oppose death penalty to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev.
Some say a civilized country should not have death penalty. What is civilized about murder? Murder is a crime, pure and simple.
When death penalty was the norm there were not many encounter deaths and terrorist activities. After the Supreme Court strayed into the territory of executive and restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases the situation changed.
Madras High Court should not have entertained the petitions of three convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and stayed the executions for eight weeks and when that happened Supreme Court should have intervened and vacated the stay. If waiting for death penalty is cruel why extend it? Please note that it is not only Rajiv Gandhi who died in that blast but 15 others with constitutionally guaranteed equality to Rajiv Gandhi.
A dead murderer cannot commit another murder. Sometimes murderers come out of jail and commit more murders. In 1980 William Spengler murdered his grandmother with a hammer. He spent 17 years in jail and came out on parole. In 2012 during Christmas time he set fire to his house. His sister died in the fire. The fire spread to other houses and caused loss. When firemen came to douse the fire he shot at them. Two died, two were injured. William Spengler shot himself. If he had been hanged for the murder of his grandmother, the two firemen would not have been shot by him. He used Bushmaster rifle. In Michigan, John D. White murdered a 26-year old woman and spent 12 years in jail. He came out and became a pastor. He murdered his fiancée’s 24-year old daughter Rebekah Gay, stripped her, and dumped her body. He wanted to have necrophilia with her. He said he did not remember whether he fulfilled his sexual fantasy. If John D. White had been executed for the first murder he would not have murdered Rebekah Gay. If some terrorists want “perverse glamour of judicial martyrdom” let them have it. In India, murderers while in jail or after coming out of jail have committed more murders.

Updated: February 21, 2013 — 7:40 am

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