Recently a resolution was passed by the United Nations Third Committee – The Social, humanitarian and cultural Committee. The resolution favored a moratorium on capital punishment. As per Amnesty International 140 countries and in favor of abolishing death sentences including Afghanistan and Bhutan, the only two countries from the South Asian region. India was against the resolution. The countries that were against the resolution were of the view that the resolution was being imposed by the European union countries without the considering the fact that different states have their own challenges also the look into the land of the law of any country threatens its sovereignty.
In India, with the Supreme Court of India admitting that it is very difficult to judge whether a crime can be tagged as being rarest of rare or not and admitting it is more a question of societal beliefs than jurisprudence, it a time that we debate the issue of death penalty more vigorously. “To award death sentence, the aggravating circumstances (crime test) have to be fully satisfied and there should be no mitigating circumstance (criminal test) favouring the accused. Even if both the tests are satisfied as against the accused, even then the court has to finally apply the rarest of rare cases test, which depends on the perception of the society and not judge-centric, that is whether the society will approve the awarding of death sentence to certain types of crime,” the bench also comprising Justice Dipak Misra said.
Views against Death Penalty
"What says the law? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!" -Victor Hugo.
Should the land of Gandhi practice death penalty is one question and can majoritism be the right precept for determining whether a person should be hanged or not is another question? Is our society blood thirsty and only when the criminals are hanged, feels satisfied and safe? By hanging those caught in the rape and murder in Delhi will Delhi become more safe place for women or by hanging one Ajmal Kasaab have we addressed the security issues in Mumbai and India or by hanging Afzal Guru have we suppressed the secessionist and extremist groups in J&K successfully? Will and eye for an eye make the world a better palce?
Another side of the picture
The most powerful nation of the world, America, responded to the twin tower attack by ransacking Afghanistan and later intruding Pakistan in a secret mission to kill Osama Bina Laden in Abottabad. The attack on Iraq and the recent sanctions on Iran too throw some light on their idea of justice that says, I am powerful and you shall know it. With America being a permanent member in UNSC and having veto power, only time will tell what reports and made public about the war time atrocities against the people by the US Army. The same America will have to settle with just a life imprisonment for the boy who murdered 20 school children without any provocation. If in future Dawood Ibrahim is extradited to India, will the UN defend the death sentence in case the Supreme Court finds him guilty of rarest of rare crime?
India undoubtedly did right by voting against such a resolution and making the point very clear and we do not want international forum to debate on our law of the land as that is related to our sovereignty. But there remains a question of how to bring the nation on one page with the rarest of the rare doctrine.