Abolition of death penalty in India evokes mixed reactions

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam and DMK leader Kanimozhi supported the abolition of death penalty

New Delhi: A discussion on a law commission consultation paper on whether capital punishment should be retained or abolished evoked a mixed response on Saturday.

While former President APJ Abdul Kalam, DMK leader Kanimozhi and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi supported the abolition of death penalty, several others, including SC bar association’s Dushyant Dave favoured retaining the capital punishment.

The law commission on Saturday organised a day-long consultation on the issue of abolition of death penalty in India, which was part of its over year-long process to garner views and suggestion before submitting its report to the Supreme Court.

Several of those who responded to the consultation paper, brought out by law commission last year, and experts who participated in today’s consultation sought a more unambiguous definition of ‘rarest of rare’ case where death penalty can be handed down by the courts.

In his inaugural address, Gopalkrishna Gandhi while opposing death penalty said ending life of a person was a “perk” available to a State.

He said the State should investigate crime and not use “shortcuts” like execution for “gratification”.

“A man hanged cannot look back and say, oh I have been hanged,” he said, supporting abolition of death penalty.

Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki said the principle of ‘rarest of the rare’ case was being applied arbitrarily in certain cases because people, including judges, carry “baggage”.

He lamented that those being elevated to higher courts do not get education to deal with sensitive subjects.

Justice Nazki also blamed “media interference” which weighs on the minds of the judges.

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