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  Opinion   Edit  24 Mar 2017  Scrap the death penalty

Scrap the death penalty

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 24, 2017, 1:57 am IST
Updated : Mar 24, 2017, 6:51 am IST

With many social indices signalling that the country has progressed, we need a more mature view of abolition.

Representational Image
 Representational Image

A majority of Law Commission members have been firm for some time that India must move to abolish the death penalty except in terrorism cases as these directly affect national security. Its last report on this is being circulated to states and UTs seeking opinions, and the sooner we find a consensus on this the better as the death penalty is essentially inhumane. The greatest argument against it, as opposed to a full life term, is that we shouldn’t be playing God in judging fellow humans, but that can’t extend to crimes where people wage war against society trying to destroy it. Modern thought is inclined towards compassion, and as the long wait on death row shatters prisoners psychologically, more so in India, sympathy can never be misplaced.

Some will of course resist scrapping the current judicial provision for death sentences in “rarest of rare” cases, but too many murders are crimes of passion, not treason, mutiny, abetment of suicide or kidnapping for ransom, these being some instances to which the discretion extends now. With many social indices signalling that the country has progressed, we need a more mature view of abolition. Other reasons, like the lack of deterrence in “death”, arbitrary sentencing and long waiting periods after mercy pleas too make a case for abolition. The quality of mercy is also twice blessed, as the Bard puts it. Given our recent experiences, the only exception is whether rape should be included along with terror. But isn’t it logical that a full life term is punishment enough for most misdeeds?

Tags: death penalty, law commission