Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Mercy Petitions

Resolution on death penalty

Tamil Nadu is a fit case for imposition of President’s Rule as it is not run as per constitution and its Legislative Assembly passed a resolution asking for mercy to criminals whose petitions had been rejected by the President. Omar Abdullah was right in questioning whether the reaction would have been as muted if Jammu & Kashmir had passed a similar resolution in favour of Afzal Guru. In that case BJP and many other parties would have gone ballistic. There is hypocrisy in Tamil Nadu. Some years back Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution favouring death penalty for the criminals. Parties headed by Karunanidhi and Vaiko were part of NDA which rejected mercy petitions. Ram Jethmalani was member of BJP and did not oppose death penalty then. Madras High Court should not have entertained the petitions 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 by eight weeks? That shows the falsehood of the claim that waiting for death penalty is cruel and an excuse to get death penalty commuted to life imprisonment. What happens in India puts banana republics to shame and there should be a new phrase to describe India.

TV channels are unfair in covering the events. Discussions are not balanced. Those who oppose death penalty are more in number and given more time. On NDTV 24×7 three were against death penalty and two were for death penalty. Pinky Anand who was in favour of death penalty was given very less time to speak. On CNN-IBN all five panellists were against death penalty. There is discussion-fixing. If TV channels are opposed to death penalty they should put a disclaimer before the discussion saying they are against death penalty and the discussion is one-sided. It seems there are efforts to influence public opinion. If TV channels or journalists are influenced by lobbyists they should disclose it. Someone on Times Now said death penalty is barbaric and India is in the company of Saudi Arabia. Death penalty is not barbaric, crime is low in Saudi Arabia and India is in the company of USA and China.

Who paid Ram Jethmalani, Colin Gonsalves and R. Vaigai and how much for appearing for criminals? Who finances PUCL? Why did judges C. Nagappan and M. Sathyanarayan stay the execution? The three lawyers and the two judges should be hanged along with the criminals.

Politics over death penalty

It is a shame that some politicians want mercy for criminals whose mercy petitions are rejected by the President. Some months back a Sikh terrorist’s petition was rejected and Akali and Congress politicians from Punjab wanted mercy for him. The terrorist had gone to Supreme Court and wanted his petition to be settled one way or other and after the rejection he has gone to court challenging the dismissal.

Now some politicians from Tamil Nadu want mercy for three Tamil terrorists. It is perverse for Karunanidhi to ask mercy for Rajiv Gandhi’s killers claiming Rajiv Gandhi would have shown mercy under similar circumstances. Rajiv Gandhi did not die alone. Fifteen innocent people, including nine policemen on duty, died in the blast. No thought is given to them. The terrorists have appealed to Madras High Court on the ground of delay in decision. Karunanidhi, Vaiko and other politicians who oppose death penalty had lost elections.

Part of the problem is that India had wrong people as Presidents. The delay in deciding on mercy petitions started with K. R. Narayaran who did not want to reject any mercy petition. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam rejected one mercy petition and after that refused to reject. Pratibha Patil did not want to reject mercy petitions for three years and ten months. Governments of the day did not act against them and MPs did not impeach them.

Delay in deciding mercy petition is not cruel. There is no double punishment. Delayed time is bonus for criminals. They get to live longer. There is no anguish or psychological trauma. There is hope.

Jayalalitha said she has no power to pardon and the criminals can go to President again. Subramanian Swamy said the overwhelming majority of people in Tamil Nadu want the three hanged. There is no question of showing any compassion beyond normal process.

It is strange that High Courts entertain petitions related to death penalty decided by Supreme Court and rejected by President. There should be a ban on such things. There should be only one mercy petition and hanging should take place soon after rejection.

Death penalty is a deterrent

In one James Bond film it is said: Once can be happenstance. Twice can be coincidence. Thrice or more enemy is at work. On NDTV 24×7’s Left Right and Centre on three days Nidhi Razdan asked the question: Is death penalty a deterrent? She implied it was not. My answer is “Yes”.

First time Nidhi Razdan asked the question with regard to remarks by Justice Markandeya Katju about policemen who kill in fake encounters. He had said “Such policemen should be hanged. It is nothing but cold-blooded brutal murder, and yes, police personnel responsible should be hanged.” The discussion turned around fake encounters. Y. P. Singh said policemen do a noble job in an unethical way. It is a political call to control crime. The government of the day asks police to finish criminals. When there were gang wars in Bombay encounters took place and criminals disappeared.

There was no terrorist activity at the time. Later encounter specialists fell from grace. Encounters stopped. There were serial train blasts and 26/11. Last month there were three bomb blasts.

Second time was when it became known that Home Ministry has asked the President to reject Afzal Guru’s mercy petition. One panelist said he was opposed to death penalty in general. TSR Subramaniam said death penalty is given in rarest of rare cases and this is a rarest of rarest of rare case. Those who say Kashmir will go up in flames if Afzal Guru is hanged ignore the fact that Maqbool Butt’s hanging for the murder of Deputy High Commissioner Mhatre in Birmingham scared the living daylights out of JKLF.

Third time was on 11/8/2011. The President had rejected mercy petitions of three LTTE members. Renuka Chowdhury defended the decision. One panelist spoke of European Union and Gandhian philosophy. He forgot Gandhi’s killers were hanged. Ashok Desai and Nirmala Seetharaman were in favour of death penalty.

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.

There is misinformation that 26/11 terrorists were on a suicide mission. They were told to take some hostages. The government will negotiate and allow them to return. That did not happen. When a terrorist serves a life sentence there is the danger of abduction or hijacking for the release of the terrorist and the released terrorist killing many more. While nothing can be done about suicide bombers if those who send them are hanged that will reduce terrorists. Suicide bombers are given money and are told that their families will be taken care of once they die.

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.

In Pakistan there has not been death penalty for a long time and terrorism has increased. In Mexico murders multiplied after abolition of death penalty.

I have a suspicion that a lobbyist is behind the question.

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