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Legal No Noose Is Good News

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]DEATH PENALTY-INDIA[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]No Noose Is Good News[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Ranjit Devraj - Inter Press Agency - October 14, 2010[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]NEW DELHI, Oct 14 (IPS) - Campaigners against the death penalty in India are hopeful that a series of commutations of hanging sentences to life imprisonment this month will add up to a trend against the award of capital punishment.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]''There is definitely a marked reluctance among judges in India to hand out death sentences and this is absolutely right,'' says Maja Daruwalla, director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Daruwalla said two of the three commutations this month were especially commendable because they dealt with rape and murder cases where the families of the victims were motivated to demand the extreme penalty ''apparently out of a strong desire for vengeance.'' [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]On Oct. 7 India's Supreme Court, seeing 'mitigating factors,' commuted the death sentence of Santosh Kumar Singh, awarded by a lower court for the sensational rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo, a fellow law student, 14 years ago. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The apex court stuck to its principle that the death penalty should be resorted to only in the ''rarest of rare'' cases. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The Court observed that Singh belonged to a social class that enjoyed "unlimited power or pelf or even more dangerously, a volatile and heady {censored}tail of the two." [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Singh's clout was apparent in his original acquittal by the trial court, but this resulted in a public outcry that prompted in the intervention of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's premier sleuthing agency, and his subsequent conviction by the Delhi High Court. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Yet, because the "balance sheet tilts marginally in favour of the appellant'', judges H.S. Bedi and C.K. Prahlad decided to convert the death sentence awarded by the High Court into life imprisonment while maintaining the conviction. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"Where the option is between a life sentence and a death sentence and the court itself feels some difficulty in awarding one or the other, it is only appropriate that the lesser sentence should be awarded,'' the judges explained in their landmark decision. "This is the underlying philosophy behind 'the rarest of the rare' principle.'' [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Daruwalla said that it was important that the judges upheld the idea that the convict should be given a chance to reform. ''There is nothing to suggest that he (Singh) would not be capable of reform,'' the judges had ruled. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]According to Daruwalla the apex court was only following tradition laid down by India's great religious or philosophical teachers such as Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi that no one has the right to take life. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]A day after the apex court's ruling, another court in southern Bangalore shied away from passing the death sentence on a cab driver Shiva Kumar found guilty of raping and murdering an employee of a business process outsourcing unit of the Hewlett Packard corporation. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The leniency in the two cases contrasted sharply with the 2004 hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 14- year old girl in her apartment in Kolkata city in 1990. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Chatterjee's hanging, carried out after several appeals at different levels of the judiciary failed, and clemency was denied by the government, was seen by many activists as a setback for the death penalty abolition campaign in this country. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading rights organisation, had then argued that executing Dhananjay would be retributive and an instance of state terror. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]''That deterrence has never worked because the real issue is the existence of a culture that treats women as non-persons, which needs to be transformed first,'' says PUCL counsel and rights activist Colin Gonsalves. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]While Dhananjay's hanging was the last carried out in India, this country may still be several years away from complete abolition of capital punishment going by recent pronouncements made by K.G. Balakrishnan, India's fromer chief justice and currently chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a statutory body. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Balakrishna holds that the death penalty has a deterrent effect especially at a time when different types of crime are on the increase. "If you analyse, many of those who were given death penalty really deserved it,'' said Balakrishnan in response to questions from reporters on the subject. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]India joined 53 other countries to vote against the December 2007 United Nations General Assembly moratorium on executions, passed with 104 votes in favour and 29 abstentions. But Indian judges generally follow the 1983 Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty may be resorted to only in the "rarest of rare cases". [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The reluctance of judges to order hangings (the sole approved form of capital punishment) may be seen from the fact only one person is due to be hanged, for the 1995 assassination of Beant Singh, then chief minister of the western state of Punjab. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]On Oct. 12 the Punjab and Haryana High Court commuted the death sentence of Jagtar Singh Hawara, one of two Sikh militants due to hang for the assassination in which a suicide bomber and 17 others died. The other militant, Balwant Singh, did not appeal against his death sentence. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]source: [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53160[/FONT]


Apr 3, 2005
So what should be appropriate punishment for henious crimes? They are replacing it with Life imprisionment until Death Which could put more burden on Indian Govts.


Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
When a person kills somebody what is killer playing then!

They absolutely are trying to play God and defy hukam. But if we then murder them (forcing death is murder whatever reason it is committed for) does that not bring us down a level? If they try and play God, does that give us the right to?

I feel that caging a man is greater punishment than ending life as they have to feel that and confront it everyday.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
When a person kills somebody what is killer playing then!

GOD !!...............
The ONLY difference is that person KNOWS what was done...
The JUDGES, the JURIES, the LAWYERS, the PROSECUTION..the DEFENCE...all GUESSING......and Playing GOD !!..and Courts have been known to hang the wrong person.....and killers ahve also been known to kill the wrong person...

I once read of a case where a man murdered his wife. But the police couldnt prove anything and he escaped justice....He went away from USA to Canada, settled down in a remote area...REMARRIED.....and after 18 years his SECOND WIFE DIED in the EXACT SAME WAY his first wife had been "Murdered". In the SECOND INSTANCE..the husband was caught in a web of purely circumstantial evidence..and CONVICTED of a "murder" he didnt commit......and his last words before going to the Chair were...I DIDNT kill Zaira (second wife)..although i did sned her out down the steep mountain road in winter to buy me a six pack of beer.......BUT I DID murder Shawny by cutting her break lines the night before and sending her out in snowing weatherdown the steep mountain road to buy me a six-pack of beers..it took 18 years for me to finally pay for it..


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
They absolutely are trying to play God and defy hukam. But if we then murder them (forcing death is murder whatever reason it is committed for) does that not bring us down a level? If they try and play God, does that give us the right to?

I feel that caging a man is greater punishment than ending life as they have to feel that and confront it everyday.

findingmyway ji

I myself do not agree with capital punishment. That means I am more biased in the direction of your thinking. Taking a life is taking a life, if we focus on the deed itself, and only that.

But I also disagree, as I don't see either the murderer or his executioners or the society that orders the noose as playing God. That idea works only in the Abrahamic vision of God who demands obedience of his law, and extracts punishment with a taste for vengeance, when it is broken. In some Vedic systems of thought, gods take lives of mortals, often because of real or perceived slight to their divinely narcissistic sense of entitlement to sacrifice and blind devotion. Societies that permit capital punishment are not playing God. They are playing the part of 'justice broker.' Using the analogy of brokering justice, society's laws determine how one life will be exchanged in return for the loss of the other.

Capital punishment is papered over with language about God, moral indignation and divine inspiration. But that is merely a way for mortals to feel better about what they are actually doing. Capital punishment, rather than being a religious or ethical solution to the problem of taking a life, seems more like a form of economic reprisal. And in that sense it is not so different from making/declaring war. And not so different when you back out of a parking lot and cause some damage. You have to pay for it.

Societies regulate the taking of life and always have. Over time, from century to century, from culture to culture, the rules of course change. The crimes punishable by death, and the means of execution change, according to culture and according to the moral consciousness of a particular age. Sometime cultures change quickly, while others remain loyal to centuries of practice.

Ideas of justice have taken many forms. Abortion is legal in one place or time, and it is homicide in another place or time. In Guru Nanak's day a thief, who had murdered no one, would be condemned to be wrapped in the wet and bloody hide of a newly slaughtered animal, packed on top of a donkey, and ridden about in the blazing sun from market to market, until the hide had dried and shrunk and suffocated him. In 19th Century England a boy as young as 6, who stole bread because he was hungry, could be hanged. In 20th Century Saudi Arabia a woman, who committed adultery would be stoned (a practice that dates back to the ancient Greeks), though if she were a member of the royal family, she could plead to be beheaded. Today in the UAE and throughout Africa a murderer can be exonerated and saved from execution if the family of the victim agrees to a sum of money in compensation for the victim's salary potential. In the US today, in the 21rst Century, a mentally retarded person can be electrocuted because it is the nature of the deed (murder) not the reality of the person (his or her moral or intellectual deficiencies) that calls for the death penalty.

We are a grisly bunch, we are both murderers and executioners. So is the murder of innocents ghastly. Coming to justice - by hanging, electrocution, stoning, strangulation - has nothing to do with playing God. The image of justice is someone who is blind and who holds a scale (of justice). The laws are written to be blind to distracting circumstances (hunger or mental illness) surrounding the murder, and in that way the deed itself remains the focus of the process of meting out justice. Not the person but the act is punished, according to legal scholars and philosophers of ethics like Emmanuel Kant.

Of course in real terms the person is also punished. He/she loses his/her life, but that is only the unavoidable by-product of punishing a capital crime like murder by death. it is the deed not the person that matters to society and the laws it crafts. The scale of justice reminds us that society is looking to restore balance through an equitable solution.

The act of killing another human being is a heinous thing. But when killing is punished by more killing, the language of the law is similar to the language of fair dealing in the market place. If something of value is taken outside of the limits of the law, then something of equal value must be given in exchange. A life for a life. An eye for an eye. A few thousand dollars for the loss, not of a son, but of his earning power. A head for a few months of adultery because honor has been taken from a family and a quom.

We avoid acknowledging the economic truth of capital punishment because we think we are modern. We cannot bear to think of ourselves as being primitives, like posses of American cowboys in the wild west who, would hang a man for cattle rustling or for stealing a horse. But it's true. Under the law, if something of value is taken then something of equal value must be returned. The types of killing that can be punished by law, and the manner of punishment, are simply human inventions and a matter of social agreement, in a particular time and a particular place.


Apr 3, 2005
They absolutely are trying to play God and defy hukam. But if we then murder them (forcing death is murder whatever reason it is committed for) does that not bring us down a level? If they try and play God, does that give us the right to?

I feel that caging a man is greater punishment than ending life as they have to feel that and confront it everyday.

The purpose of jail is to reform a prisioner .The purpose is not to put him/her till the end of his/her life.It is also barbaric to cage a human like an animal for whole life.

Let me put something from an article.
As the non-government organisation Penal Reform International noted in 2007, the purpose of reformative punishment will not be served if a convict lives his or her whole life in detention without being released on parole.


Given India's unwillingness to abolish the death penalty, it's interesting to study the country's position in relation to life sentences. Life imprisonment, without the possibility of release, leads to indefinite detention in prisons, and is known to cause physical, emotional and psychological distress. Prisoners could suffer from ill-health, social isolation, loss of personal responsibility and identity crisis, and may even be driven to suicide.


In that case I don't see any reason to put a person behind bars for his entire life or Death penalty.Both are equally barbaric.

That's why I feel court should give life imprisonment ranging from 14-20 years and if they feel that a person cannot be reformed then its better to put him to Death.
Oct 11, 2006
When a person kills somebody what is killer playing then!

A civilized, enlightened society cannot stoop to the same level as that of a mentally unstable and deranged person,(that is what a murderer is), who is also a product of his enviroment and society and the peculiar circumstaces of the moment when he commits the crime.
And what if we are wrong?Can we give him back his life?

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
The purpose of jail is to reform a prisioner .The purpose is not to put him/her till the end of his/her life.

Only if it were true although it does sound very philosophical, compassionate and idealistic to say the least.

Prisons in the perfect utopic world would be centers for re-training and re-educating, slowly molding people so they can find goodness in themselves. But that is not the case.

US is the country that has more people behind bars than any other country in the world and the majority is black and latinos with one part of skin heads.

Prisons are the punishment dungeons where sodomy, love affairs between the guards and the prisoners are not uncommon. They are also breeding grounds for gangs. Prisons are not there to reform people but to deform them.

It is ironic that the country that calls itself a Christian country which believes in redemption does not care of its own citizens who are behind bars. They have no redeeming values for them. The same Christians are against the woman's rights to choose- abortion -but are willing to kill someone as a form of punishment without blinking an eye through death penalty.

One more thing worth noticing is that the US government has allowed Saudi Arabia to pay for and allow the Imams of the most radical sect of Islam- Wahabis- to be part of the religious reformation programs in its prison system which has made Islam the fastest growing religion behind bars. Many prisoners are converting to Islam through this radical sect, perhaps because they have a couple of things in common, which are hatred and violence.

The fact is that it costs more in the US for the person to be on the death row and eventually put to death than if he/she is given life imprisonment without parole. It is because of the money wasted on appeals etc etc.

Many people have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. Thanks to the DNA testing now, many who have spent anywhere between 10 to 30 years have been exonerated and hence freed.

One more ironic twist in all this is that the first two people to demand DNA testing for the prisoners on death row were Attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project. They were also responsible for proving OJ Simpson not guilty of the murders of his wife and her friend. Innocence Project is responsible for freeing many from the prisons by demanding DNA testing but many more are still lingering in there.

Yes,as aptly said by Jasleen ji, "And its important to think of more ways to reform people as one solution will not fit all".

We have landed on the moon, discovered worlds that we can not reach, put satellites in the skies that have made our lives easier from the cellular level, found many cures for the diseases that were thought to be incurable some years ago and have accomplished many other things in a record pace.

But, sadly to notice that we have not been able to control this Munn of ours which makes us commit crimes and some of which are quite heinous ones.

Only if we could do that then we would not need bars in the guise of reforming people.

Tejwant Singh