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On The Judicial Aim Of Reformation: Should We Have Capital Punishment?

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According to the National Crime Record Bureau, India, there is one dowry death in the country every 78 h, one act of sexual harassment every 59 minutes, one rape every 34 minutes, one act of torture every 12 minutes and almost one in every three married women experienced domestic violence. This data paints a poignant picture of our country and portrays the dilapidated condition of our state machinery and failures of executive, legislative and judiciary. On 16th December 2012, our country faced one of such incidents in Delhi where a girl was so brutally and mercilessly raped that she succumbed to her injuries.

The act exposed the animal instincts within the five perpetrators. Their trial went on for 7 continuous years in the judiciary and at last, on March 20, 2020, they were hanged till death. Capital punishments in India are given to reduce rapes in India as it acts as a deterrence. Moreover, it reduces the expenditure of the government on jail expenses and last but not least, it gives a sense of satisfaction to te victims and their families as they think they have accessed justice.

However, it has some drawbacks also.  Till now, no empirical pieces of evidence has been found which can establish the fact that capital punishment acts as deterrents for criminals. Almost 2/3rd nations of the world have stopped this kind of punishment for their countries. The main aim of the judiciary is reformation, not retribution. It means the judiciary should avoid capital punishment to satisfy the people of the country and reform that criminal.

Moreover, in a literate society like India where the literary level is 74%, we can’t expect our judiciary to punish the people with barbaric and brutal punishments. In the Bachan Singh case, the Supreme Court said that capital punishment should be given in “rarest of the rare cases”. Moreover, the constitution of India has granted Right to Life under Article 21 so, no one has the right to take away our life.

I don’t know whether I should laugh aloud or cry bitterly. I am in a Catch 22 situation as the whole country is celebrating the capital punishment of Nirbhaya’s perpetrator. The joy is unfettered as they say that justice has been delivered to the victim’s family. But on the other hand, I feel sad about this mentality of people in India because I am still living in Gandhiji’s land, where there is no place of violence. He had said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind “.

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  1. Manish Kumar

    Few things that you need to think about while forming your thoughts on this issue:

    i) Gandhi never said that ‘eye for eye’ quote. That quote is from the movie ‘Gandhi’ and not from Gandhi himelf.

    ii) Death penalty is required because not all criminals can be reformed.

    iii) There are crimes which fall under the category of ‘waging war against the country’ which is more severe than just culpable homicide amounting to murder. For example, when you have a terrorist attack, the terrorist is not just charged with murder, but with the charge that I mentioned above. Now a terrorist, if killed in a counter-terror operation, would have anyways died. But if he is captured alive, he is given a chance to represent his side. A court awards death penalty to terrorists only after he exhausts all defences. And you don’t want to spend taxpayer’s resources on keeping terrorists alive in jail, right? Would you really trust someone like Kasab to get reformed? Where would you release him after his ‘reformation’? In India or in Pakistan where he came from? If he is released in India, and he carries out another terrorist attack, who would you place the blame on?

    iv) You are mentioning Article 21 as one which guarantees Right to Life. But you need to see how it truly reads, which is as follows:

    ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.’

    Thus, his life may be deprived to him according to a procedure established by law. And when the Nirbhaya’s rapists were sentenced to death, their sentencing happened after the legal procedure was followed, and they had exhausted all legal options, including the atrocious Rule 854 of the Delhi Prison Rules manual passed by the Kejriwal Government in 2018 (Read the rule to see for yourself).

    Remember, even in case of rapes, the death penalty is not administered in all rape cases. This was a ‘rarest of the rare’ rape cases, and since the victim also died, it amounted to murder as well (the rape went beyond just forceful non-consensual penetration).

    1. Vivek kumar

      Thanks for your positive comment and your valuable feedback. However it has no where been mentioned that criminals can’t be reformed . As a person is not criminals since birth .it is the society where he becomes criminal. Moreover no empirical evidence is available in state department to prove with full conviction that death penalty reduces crime and rape . The procedure of our court is a bit circuitous but procedure is required ver much meticulously as in a hurry an innocent life can be snatched away. In capital punishment cultrit die within fraction of second but think ,What if they were alive to share the world about brutality and mental trauma they suffer everyday. The stigma they carry will lead allow them to live a life . As a result they could have demanded capital punishment themselves. This could have set a proper example for the society..Nonetheless murder can’t be justified with murder. I have my own opinion synchronized with Gandhi in Gandhian land Everybody has it’s own opinion, thought and notions

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