Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam called the judgement of 29th August 2012 a historic one. Ajmal Amir Kasab, a terrorist involved in the 26 November 2008 Mumbai attacks, was captured and held prisoner in the Arthur Road Jail all this time. The Supreme Court of India pronounced its first death sentence against Kasab in May, 2010. Yesterday, in the final verdict, the court upheld its earlier judgement elucidating that there was no other option. Kasab has been charged for his crimes of murder, conspiracy and waging against the nation. People all over India have diverse views on the subject of death penalty and a substantial population hopes that this turns out to be the last execution in the history of the nation. The major crux of this article is not Kasab, it is not even India; nevertheless, it is about capital punishment which is carried out by violently traumatizing the convict so as to take his/her life for the crime he/she committed.
Presently, 97 countries of the world have put an end to the practice of death penalty whereas about 58 nations still perform it. So, in general most of the countries do not favor this form of retribution but over 60% of the world’s population lives in countries where executions take place. These countries include the People’s Republic of China, India, the United States of America and Indonesia. However, in India, USA and Indonesia, capital punishment is used rarely. India adheres to this form of punishment only in the rarest or the rare cases. In the past twelve years, only two executions have been carried out in the nation. The last execution took place in 2004 in which a former elevator man was hanged for raping and murdering a 14 year old girl in Kolkata. Coming back to the sentence announced yesterday, the Supreme Court believed that Kasab’s crime fell under the ‘rarest of the rare’ category and his allegation that he wasn’t given a suitable opportunity to defend himself was dismissed. The Bhartiya Janta Party(BJP) feels that Kasab should be hanged without delay. In a statement, some members of the party said- ‘Those who wage war against the country and kill innocent people deserve no mercy.” The country’s law minister, Salman Khurshid said that death penalties should be abolished.
Wait, I think I should come out of India and look at the broader picture. The Domestic and International Human Rights groups want capital punishment to be abolished. Many organizations of the world claim that execution discriminates against minorities and the poor. It encourages violence and violates the human rights. Acording to the Guardian, death penalty is a shameful legacy of colonialism. The greatest challenge for abolitionists is China where about 4000 executions are carried out each year. Iran also reinstated capital punishment and more than 60 people have been put to death since Nov, 2011. On 19 Jan, 2012, 34 prisoners were killed in the country. Talking about the US; about 13000 people have been executed legally since the colonial times. However, the public support for capital punishment has decreased over the years. The critics cite its high cost, failure to deter crime and assert that this practice places US out of step with the International Human Rights norms.
Surveys throughout the world have revealed that death penalty is offered in different countries for crimes relating to murders, rape, drug trafficking, human trafficking, apostasy, blasphemy etc. The methods carried out for executions are sadistic and include death by hanging, electrocution, lethal injection, beheading, gas chambers or shooting. Amnesty International, an organization working to protect the human rights worldwide, argues against capital punishment and calls it a cold blooded killing of a human being in the name of justice. Whereas, Clark County, a public works county, disagrees, saying that life indeed is sacred but some defendants have earned the ultimate punishment for their wrong-doing.
The most inappropriate reason for imparting a death penalty exists in several Islamic countries. Here, capital punishment is offered in cases of apostasy (formal abandonment of a religion by a person) and blasphemy (showing irreverence or contempt for a religious deity or a religion and its practices etc.) Kuwait may introduce death penalty again in response to the tweets of a Kuwaiti citizen defaming Prophet Mohammed. In Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, blasphemy laws are misused to prosecute those from minority faiths. Another reason for abolishing capital punishment should be considered wherein organizations claim that justice systems around the world are flawed which sometimes result in the execution of an innocent person. There have been certain cases advocating this belief.
Personally, I am somewhat skeptical about this whole issue. I read that Pratibha Patil (ex-President of India) altered the death sentences of 35 convicts during her term. Also, clemency plea of 29 prisoners of death row is pending before the current President. Another considerable problem is that there is only one or two hangmen available in India, reported the BBC. The Supreme Court itself admitted that some penalties it upheld were mistaken. We talk about the ‘Right to Life’ but capital punishment goes against it. What do you think? Is it one form of violence which is used to deter violence? Or is it an inhumane practice which strictly needs abolishment. Think about it! Am waiting!
References: The Hindu, US Liberals, Business Standard, The Guardian, BBC News, The Independent, Wikipedia, The Christian Science Monitor, etc..