In 2009, three colleagues, Rebecca Gonsalvez, Reena Mary George and Vijay Hiremath decided to "blog" to publish (existing) information on the death penalty in India at one spot. For a long time, we published news articles and other information regarding death penalty in India. Currently, there are more projects/researches done in India on death penalty. The blog is managed by Reena Mary George. Please mark all copies of your emails to: email@example.com
Friday, February 6, 2015
Capital Punishment, is that the answer?
Published: August 14, 2014
Today August 14, 2014 marks the ten year anniversary of the hanging of convicted rapist and murderer Dhananjoy Chatterjee.
On May 5, 1990 a 14 year old girl by the name of Hetal Parekh was raped and murdered in Kolkata, India by the caretaker of her building. The Indian Express, 2012 states it took almost 14 years after the young girl was raped and murdered for the convicted rapist and murder to serve his punishment, death by hanging on August 14, 2004.
It is stated that Dhananjoy Chatterjee had repeatedly appealed and filed mercy petitions, all in which were rejected due to the brutality of the crime.
Presently, the Jyoti Singh Pandey gang rape case- the 23 year old student who was brutally gang raped and died of internal organ injuries, there were six assailants, four received a sentence of death by hanging, the fifth juvenile who received a three year sentence and the sixth had allegedly committed suicide in prison. All four of the convicts who were given a death sentence have received stays of their executions on the grounds to appeal by the Supreme Court (Times of India, 2014).
After the rape of Jyoti Pandey, many of the middle-class students took to the streets to protest the sexual violence against women, many of whom were demanding chemical castration as punishment and or death penalty.
On December 23, 2012 a three member committee made up of Justice J.S Verma, who was the former chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Leila Seth, who was the former judge of the Highest Court and Gopal Subramanium who was the former Solicitor General of India, looked to review the laws and punishment of sexual violence against women. The members took into account the public suggestions, reviewed and analysed the historical statistics, cases, laws and data.
They came up with many suggestions, focusing on increased punishment in terms of imprisonment; they rejected chemical castration and the death sentence as they felt there was no evidence to show deterrence. Furthermore, currently the death sentence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is only considered to be given under the “rarest of the rare” cases. They also suggested marital rape exclusionary under the IPC be removed, increase the age of consent to 18, to include a sexual harassment procedures in the workforce, to criminalise the employment of a trafficked person, for the medical field to discontinue the use of the two-finger test as a form of forensic evidence for sexual assault, and police reforms- introduce rape crisis cells, police stations to have cctv cameras set up in interview rooms and entrances, and the ability to file FIR’s online etc. ( As per The PRS Legislative Research, Justice Verma Committee Report Summary)
This report was conducted within 30 days as per the request of the government, thus the committee went to work diligently and was able to produce the report Jan 23, 2013. According to First Post (2013) since that date, the government has openly rejected the inclusion of marital rape, and not a single recommendation has been implemented. With the exception of the age limit which has said to been amidst a change prior to the Verma report, due to public pressure over time.
Thus the question remains it’s been ten years since the hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee for the rape and death of Hetal Parekh yet this sentence has not deterred sexual violence against women.
The politicians focus on appeasing the public need for revenge, especially in high profile cases such as the Parekh and Pandey case. Instead of focusing on revenge and seeking harsher punishments, society needs to address the underlying issues that cause violence against women in the first place. The society needs to question why hasn’t the recommendations of the Verma Report been implemented? Why marital rape was openly rejected? Why are there not specific reforms in place to reduce the marginalization of the scheduled caste? Why does the medical community still use the two-finger test as means of forensic evidence, when it has no scientific basis?
Increasing punishments is useless if the system does not enforce the laws openly, transparently and justly for all equally.
In memory of Hetal Parekh.
[last accessed 06.02.2015]