Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 October - World Day Against Death Penalty...

10 October is observed as the world day against death penalty across the world. This event was started by the World Coalition against Death Penalty in 2003. The theme chosen for the year 2009 by the world coalition is educating the youngsters regarding death penalty.

India continues to be one of the minority nations which continues with death penalty and also carries out the executions. A look at some of the figures on death sentences show that in last 2 years the number of cases in which death sentence has been awarded by the lower courts have increased. Though the higher judiciary has over turned several death sentences and commuted them to life imprisonment, the trend is disturbing. Also in some of the recent cases the apex court has commuted the death sentences with the order that the person should not be released prematurely and also should not be given the benefits of parole and furlough. These directions are clearly invading decision making power of the government, wherein they would decide each individual case on its own merit whether to grant parole and furlough or not.

Though there have been no executions after Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the mercy petitions of the persons have been pending for decades and the fate of all the persons on death row hangs in balance.

There is also need for a comprehensive policy on sentencing in India. Today the penal code of the country tells what's the maximum or the minimum sentence for the crime, and all the discretion has been given to the judge. There are various factors that come into play and should be considered while sentencing a person. In the absence of a comprehensive sentencing policy all is left to the judiciary.

In the changing world wherein the Indian Government wants to play a major role in the south Asian region its high time that India follows the example of its neighbours like Nepal and abolishes death penalty at the earliest. In the present legal system, many a times the rich accused get away while the poor get convicted. The same is true about death sentence. Majority of the prisoners on death row are extremely poor.
Retaining death penalty and executing persons is against the basic values of a democratic nation.
India should lead by example in south east Asia and declare a moratorium on all the execution till the laws are amended and death penalty is abolished.

Friday, October 9, 2009

26 year old man sentenced to death in 2 cases Kerala

A sessions judge in Thodpuza has sentenced a man to death in 2 separate cases. 26 year old Jomon has been convicted for killing his family member and neighbours. The incident had taken place in September 2006.

Source :

Abolish the death penalty By I.A. Rehman Thursday, 08 Oct, 2009

Abolish the death penalty
By I.A. Rehman
Thursday, 08 Oct, 2009

Pakistan’s keenness to retain the death penalty for more than two dozen is totally indefensible. It was contrary to a growing worldwide trend in favour of abolition of the capital punishment. –File Photo
The World Day against the Death Penalty will be observed across the globe on Oct 10. And this time Pakistan will not be in the dock as a keen upholder of capital punishment as no execution has been reported in Pakistan in 2009 (until Sept 30). In 2008 two developments regarding the application of the death penalty in Pakistan took place. The theme chosen for the Day against the Death Penalty by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, the international alliance of civil society organisations that spearheads the campaign against capital punishment, was focused on Asia where more people had been executed than in the rest of the world.
The record of six Asian countries was highlighted. Three countries — India, South Korea and Taiwan — received credit for progress towards the abolition of the death penalty. Pakistan was listed amongst the other three countries — along with Japan and Vietnam — that were noted for excessive application of the capital punishment.
But 2008 was also the year when the Government of Pakistan announced its intention to abolish the death penalty. As a first step it wanted to commute the death sentence awarded to several thousand convicts. Since no evidence of any practical step was available it was assumed that the government’s humanitarian zeal had got dissipated. Either the authorities had retreated in the face of some noise made by the quasi-religious lobby or it was overly preoccupied with the problems of its survival.

Human rights activists and others who stood for an end to hangings were dismayed at discovering that executions continued after the government’s abolitionist plan was announced and that a Musharraf-period ordinance prescribing death penalty for cyber crimes had been reissued. One is now happy to learn that the government did not give up the idea of adopting a rational policy on the death penalty.

The imposition of a de facto moratorium on executions is undoubtedly a great step forward and the government will receive acclaim throughout the world. It is, however, necessary to offer the people at home, especially the pro-execution lobby, the justification for this radical shift in policy.

The fact is that Pakistan’s keenness to retain the death penalty for more than two dozen offences, as against only two (murder and treason) at the time of independence, had become totally indefensible. For one thing, it was contrary to a growing worldwide trend in favour of abolition of the capital punishment.

A 2007 survey showed that more than two-thirds of the countries in the world had abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Of these countries, 93 had abolished the capital punishment for all crimes; nine countries had done so for all crimes except for those committed in times of war; and 35 countries were classified as de facto abolitionists as no execution had been carried out for at least 10 years (although the death penalty was still prescribed in law.)

The movement for abolition of the death penalty continues to gain new adherents year after year. This year Burundi, Togo and the US state of New Mexico have abolished the death penalty. Morocco and Kenya have reduced the number of offences that carry the death penalty.

For another thing, the five principal arguments advanced in the international discourse to repudiate the death penalty are more aptly applicable to Pakistan and similarly placed countries than others. These arguments are:

- The death penalty is irrevocable. Miscarriage of justice is possible even in the most judicially advanced countries. The glaring deficiencies in Pakistan’s justice system are well-known. Nothing can be done if a person is found to be innocent after he has been hanged.
- The death penalty is unfair because it is more likely to be applied to the poor and underprivileged than to the affluent and privileged. In Pakistan the Qisas and Diyat law ensures that only poor and weak persons are sent to the gallows.
- The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Anyone condemned to death is not considered entitled to treatment as a human being. In Pakistan thousands have to rot in death cells for years on end. It is truly said of them that they die every day.
- The death penalty does not act as a deterrent. Nobody has proved that the incidence of any offences has declined after the prescription of the death penalty for them.
- The death penalty is violative of the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN General Assembly resolutions calling for a moratorium on executions.

However, prudence demands that the objections and misgivings of those who oppose the abolition of the death penalty should be properly addressed. These elements fall into two categories. The first category comprises the people who have been brutalised under the Ziaul Haq gospel of retributive justice and public hangings or by their experience of executions by pseudo-religious militants. Such people can be cured of their aberrations through a sustained education and awareness campaign.

Somewhat more difficult will be the task of dealing with those who defend the death penalty as a punishment enjoined by Islam. In order to avoid provoking these elements into acting rashly the government may formally announce a moratorium on executions and simultaneously withdraw the death penalty for crimes that are not punishable with death in the Islamic code. The Council of Islamic Ideology has already explained that the Islamic law does not prescribe death as a punishment for more than a couple of offences. The laws relating to these offences should be amended after a fair debate and consensus.

The Pakistani authorities should find the theme for this year’s Day against the Death Penalty — Teaching Abolition — useful in mobilising public support for its abolitionist policy. The idea is to instruct students aged 14 to 18 years in the need to abolish the death penalty. Pakistani authorities can add lessons designed to promote tolerance to the courses suggested for the abolitionist campaign.

Some movement in the direction indicated here must not be delayed as an informal suspension of the death penalty does not relieve the wretched population in the death cells of their anxieties and agony caused by the possibility of execution.

Source :

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Abolition of Death Penalty Is Necessary For Protecting Human Rights By Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner For Human Rights, Council of Europe Published

A civilised society should expose the fallacy behind the idea that the State can kill someone to make the point that killing is wrong says Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner as he articulates his position.

Step by step the death penalty is being abolished. Most countries of the world have now stopped using this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment: 94 states have decided on total abolition, 10 have abolished the penalty for all ordinary crimes and 35 others have not executed anyone for more than ten years. Europe is nowadays close to being a death penalty free zone. However, the abolitionist cause is not yet won.

The most populated countries in the world retain the death penalty: China, India, the United States and Indonesia. This means that the majority of the world’s people live in countries which continue to practice execution as punishment. In election campaigns in the United States, this is a taboo issue, and even the more progressive candidates refrain from raising it for fear of a backlash.

Politicians have problems in relating to public opinion on this issue also in other countries. The Russian Federation gave an undertaking when joining the Council of Europe 13 years ago to do away with the penalty. A moratorium was introduced but the Duma does not appear to be ready yet for a de jure abolition.

After the monstrous terrorist attack against the school in Beslan in September 2004, there were strong emotions in favour of executing the sole attacker who survived the disaster. However, the judicial authorities in Russia were loyal to the moratorium decision also in this extreme situation; the death sentence was transformed into life imprisonment.

Surveys of public opinion about the death penalty have usually shown a majority to be in favour of retaining this punishment. This has been the case particularly when a brutal and widely publicised murder has taken place.

However, opinion polls on this issue are not easy to interpret. There is a wide difference between asking for a gut reaction to brutal crime and soliciting a considered opinion about the ethics and principles relating to legalised State killing.

It is significant that there have been no widely-based demands for the re-introduction of the death penalty in European countries. Any such proposals are not coming from larger political parties.

Still, I believe it is important to present again the very strong arguments against killing as a judicial sanction. This is a debate which will go on and younger generations should be able to benefit from our past experiences.

It can be convincingly argued that the death penalty is ineffective. It has not had the intended deterrent effect. The crime rate is not lower in countries which have retained the penalty and has not gone up where it has been abolished. If anything, the trend is the opposite.

What is demonstrated, however, is the real risk of executing an innocent person. No system of justice is infallible, judges are human beings and mistakes are made in the court room. When the convicted person is executed, it is too late to correct the mistake. There have been a number of such cases – some of them revealed afterwards through new DNA techniques - and there are no guarantees that they will not occur in the future.

It has also been demonstrated that the death penalty regime has a clear tendency to discriminate against the poor and against minorities. Privileged people with contacts run much less risk of such punishment than others who have committed the same crime. The greatest risk is run by those who are marginalised; they tend to be at a disadvantage in the judicial process – also in death penalty cases.

These arguments are strong. However, it is not only a question of effective crime prevention, judicial certainty or prevention of discrimination; it is about the essence of human rights.

The Universal Declaration states that no one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. There have been attempts to find means of executing with little pain in order to make the process more “humane”. This has failed; there have been recent examples of prolonged suffering in the electric chair or when a person is injected with poison. Even if this could be avoided, it does not reduce the psychological pain when waiting for the execution. The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading – and will always be so.

The key argument against the death penalty is that it violates the right to life. State killing is indeed the ultimate denial of human rights. That is why it is so essential that we continue to act for abolition.

The Council of Europe has been in the forefront in this effort. All member states have ratified Protocol 6 of the European Convention concerning abolition in peace time and the majority has also agreed to be bound by Protocol 13 regarding abolition in all circumstances (including in situations of war). Those remaining states should join.1

It should also be made clear that Belarus can only aspire to membership or even status as observer after it has abolished the death penalty. Governments in the United States and Japan should be reminded that their status as observer is questioned because of their position on this issue.

In the meantime the successful diplomatic initiatives in the United Nations should continue. A resolution was adopted with broad majority in the General Assembly in 2007 which recommended a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. A similar resolution was agreed in 2008, again stressing that the moratorium should be established “with a view to abolishing the death penalty”.2

Our position on the death penalty indicates the kind of society we want to build. When the State itself kills a human being under its jurisdiction, it sends a message: it legitimises extreme violence. I am convinced that the death penalty has a brutalising effect in society. There is an element of “an eye for an eye” in each execution.

A civilised society should expose the fallacy behind the idea that the State can kill someone to make the point that killing is wrong.

Source :

Monday, October 5, 2009

Delhi HC commutes the death sentence

The Delhi High Court on August 31,2009 commuted the death sentence of man by name Gopal and sentenced him to life for minimum 20 years imprisonment without remission. Gopal had been convicted for the murder of a witness in the premises of the Tis Hazari court in Delhi.

Comment : Granting remission to a prisoner is entirely the prerogative of the Government and the judiciary should refrain from interfering with the power of the government. Remission is given to a prisoner on the recommendation of the jailer considering the behaviour of the prisoner. The order of the Delhi High Court goes against the reformation process of the prisoner. this judgement also sets a precedent and hence can affect the lives of many prisoners in future.
Its seems the courts are following an unwritten policy of commuting the death sentence and then awarding life imprisonment with conditions. In imposing the conditions the courts are overlooking the fact that they are interfering with the powers of the courts and also not allowing the process of reformation.
The judgements needs to be challenged on the limited ground of the conditions imposed by the Delhi High Court.

Judge orders execution of death sentence

A Lohardaga sessions judge on Monday ordered the execution of death sentence of Mofil Khan and Mobarak Khan in the Makandu massacre

case. The Lohardaga sessions court has fixed 4 am on September 18 to carry out the sentence.

When the court sentenced four persons to death in the same case on August 5, 2008, the latter moved high court. It also confirmed the punishment for Mofil and Mobarak, while Vakil Khan and Saddam Khan were given life.

In a notice to officer-in-charge of Lohardaga jail, the sessions judge authorized him to carry out the execution and return this warrant with an endorsement certifying that the sentence has been executed.

The jailer of Lohardaga jail, Vinay Kumar Singh, said he has received the notice and forwarded it to Birsa Munda Central Jail at Hotwar in Ranchi the same day.

On June 6, 2007, Gaffar Khan's sons, Mofil and Mobarak, along with their sons and other relatives, killed their own brother Hanif Khan (50), his wife Kasmun Bibi (45) and six sons, Pale (25), Ibran (17), Danish (15), Yusuf (12), Meharban (11) and Anis (9). The incident occurred at Makandu village under Kuru police station in Lohardaga district.


We are not sure whether the execution have been carried out or if the mercy petitions are pending before the Governor or the President. If anybody has any information, please let us know.

man sentenced to death in Kerala for killing wife and children

The Principal Sessions Judge of Palakkad on 14 September 2009 sentenced Rejikumar to death for killing his wife and children in the year. The offence took place in they year 2008.

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Two sentenced to death - Ghaziabad

Two persons have been sentenced to death by a court in Ghaziabad for kidnap and murder of a minor. The incident took place in the year 2004. The sentence was awarded on Sept 17.

The name of the persons sentence to death are Rajesh panda and Vishal Rai while Subhash Rai has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Death sentence confirmed - Kerala

The Kerala High Court has confirmed the death sentence of a man by name Anthony who had been convicted and sentenced to death for killing 6 members of a family in 2001.

The case was entirely base on circumstantial evidence according to the new reports.

19 year old sentenced to death

A district judge in Dehra Dun has awarded death sentence to a 19 year old youth for raping and killing of his cousin on 24 September 2009 . The incident took place in January 2009.

Though the act may be gruesome, the district judge has not considered the young age of the accused and also rape and murder is not the rarest of rare crime.

Death Sentence in Jammu and Kashmir

The Rajouri district court has sentenced a man by name Amir to death for an offence committed in 2005. It is alleged that Amir and 4 others entered the house of a Munshi Ram and killed 5 people. He was arrested in the year 2006.

This is the first time that an alleged terrorist has been sentenced to death in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.