By Shamim Zakaria:
The pronouncement of death penalty by the Saket district court in the infamous Delhi gang rape case of 16 December’2012 has certainly echoed a fresh debate on the relevance of capital punishment. However, it is evident enough that death penalty or hanging can never be justified in the form of justice or can’t bring justice to anybody.
Any civilized society can never have any place for death penalty. Whatever may the crime be, but killing someone is a form of violence. For the innumerable forms of violent and heinous crimes taking place in the society, we say that violence in any form is unacceptable, then how can we justify death penalty and support the right to take life of others?
According to Amnesty International, there are thousands of people in this country who believe that the use of death penalty is arbitrary, flawed and biased. Death penalty is merely short term revenge. Speaking in the context of rape, there’s no doubt that it is one of the most heinous crimes prevalent in the society and stringent punishment must be ensured. We, however, presume that the survivors of rape and other violence might want capital punishment for the convict, but through studies and research it has been established that even those women who are the worst sufferers of violence and these abhorrent acts don’t always want the physical harm of the convicts. According to the victims, what has been done to them, they never want that to happen with others. What they sought is justice, not revenge. And death in any form can’t bring justice to anyone. Moreover, death and a few minutes of fear before it is not what can be termed as punishment.
We often feel that death penalty might work as a deterrent towards bringing down the crime rate or creating fear in the minds of the criminals. However, there’s no evidence or research to suggest that death penalty succeeded in bringing down the crime rate or creating fear. A shocking survey reveals that in western countries where death penalty is still prevalent, the crime rate is higher than the countries which have abolished capital punishment. Speaking about Saudi Arabia and some Islamic countries, punishment like public hanging, chopping of limbs or stoning to death might create a degree of fear or deterrence of crimes but again we need to question ourselves if we want to transition into a society of that sort, where there’s even doubt about the credibility of the judgment? There might be a chance of false fabrication of the accused in some cases, too.
Shifting focus to the Indian justice system, there are certain disturbing elements in the system too. According to the law, only the rarest of the rare cases deserve capital punishment but earlier, while examining the parameters of the rarest of the rare cases, the court said that while delivering judgment in a particular case, the opinion of the society must also be considered. Now, this in itself is very shocking. How can the society’s will towards a particular case be surveyed? Does this mean that the judicial system must go along with the street noises? If a person is against death penalty in a particular case, how can they register their discontentment?
This brings us to the burning question again that why death penalty can’t be considered as a form of justice. Killing can never transform a society; it cannot serve or justify a community or society in any form. There’s a lot more to do, to make the society grow. To uplift the society in terms of aesthetic and moral grounds, focus should be on creating a space for education, acuity, equal access to justice and legal opportunity and eradication of poverty instead of just killing the offenders.