“No noose is good news,” we argued recently while speaking of child rapists, for the sole reason that it does not serve the purpose of correcting the conduct of the culprits, after they are dead.
But there are other reasons as well. Often our justice system is too flawed due to the use of torture – not permissible of course – but used too often to produce evidence desired by the political bosses or the financially well of. Besides there were instances where the criminals were pardoned posthumously. What benefit is such pardon to a dead person?
Secondly, the right of the State to take away the life of a citizen for ever is not clearly established for religious or other considerations. Life is God-given (Thou shalt not kill), not state-given. Thirdly according to a study in US of criminologists, 87% said Capital punishment was not going to reduce the crime rate according to empirical findings.
Solutions & Mahatma
Besides focusing on death penalty distracts the justice system from finding solutions to prevent crime, which is more vital. This should be more appealing in a country of “Non-violence” preached and practiced by the Mahatma.
But habitual rapists, for whom it has become a second nature should be definitely stopped in his march which can be done by imprisonment till one’s death or until such time when it is assured that the criminal has changed to live an exemplary life. Conversion of a sinner is always possible, as experience has proved.
So what is needed is to abolish death penalty for good to join the majority of civilized nations and strive to arrive at a solution which will help us change the mindset of rapists and similar criminals in society. james kottoor, editor ccv.
Please read below the article in the Tribune Death penalty no Deterrence!
Vishavjeet Chaudhary, in the Tribune, Apr 28, 2018
Studies show that capital punishment does not reduce crime. Only a system that is perfect can impose a penalty which is as permanent as death, not an imperfect one.
The Cabinet has cleared an ordinance to allow for capital punishment in case of rape of minors. An ordinance is a law that is passed when the Parliament is not in session. It is an executive order that receives the President’s assent without discussion in Parliament.
The ordinance is widely seen as a reaction to the horrifying rape cases in Kathua, Surat and elsewhere recently. It is important to visit jurisprudential principles and the issues in this ordinance.
First, the question of how effective the new law will be is open to debate. In a study published in the United States in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, an overwhelming 87 per cent of the criminologists who took part said that the capital punishment is unlikely to have an impact on crime. The subject of this study was murder. There have been other studies, too, that show that enforcing capital punishment does not necessarily reduce crime.
Take the example of the European Union. Crime rates, in most countries, have gone down despite the fact that all the European countries (except Belarus) have abolished capital punishment.
Further, the purpose of a criminal justice system is to stop crime. To put the entire burden of this on the punishment stage is not entirely satisfactory. In the study quoted above, 75 per cent of the respondents also believed that the debate around death penalty ‘distracts’ the legislature from ‘focussing on real solutions to prevent crime.’
Knee-jerk reactions, and hastily passed laws make a firm statement on the state’s commitment to punishing the guilty. It does not necessarily bring about a cultural shift which is mandatory to stop crime.
Most countries are in the process of abolishing capital punishment. One of the arguments against capital punishment is one of morality. Does the state have the moral right to take away its own citizen’s life? More imminently, the argument against death penalty revolves around the inherent problems in the justice system. Whilst conviction and acquittal is done after great deliberation, it is not beyond imagination for the justice system to have made mistakes. In fact, in the United Kingdom for instance, in numerous cases, like that of Evans, the convicts who were executed were later posthumously pardoned.
A system that is unquestionably and beyond all doubt perfect can, perhaps, impose a penalty which is as permanent as death. A system that is not perfect has its problems. In a study done by the National Law School, Delhi 38 out of 39 (retired) judges interviewed said that torture was ‘rampant.’ Torture can lead to fabrication of evidence, false testimony and ultimately miscarriage of justice. Thus, in a system where imperfection is so widely acknowledged, we have to be very careful in cases of death penalty.
The Law Commission, in 2017 had recommended the abolition of death penalty. The report cited various international commitments and acknowledged that there was now a possibility to use more advanced methods of crime control and punishment.
The chilling crimes and the aftermath have left the country in a shock. There is understandably an uneasiness in our minds. We must act to ensure the safety of each and every person. However, what is needed is a broader discussion and uniform implementation of engaging models that work and change the mindset of society. (Vishavjeet Chaudhary is Assistant Professor, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat)
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