Saturday, December 29, 2018

Is capital punishment effective in bringing down crime rates?

written by Narsi Benwal December 29, 2018

Mumbai: Even if the death sentence is legal and constitutionally valid, it is not the punishment for any crime. The history has proved how capital punishment has failed to be deterrent in the society as, despite convicts being hanged, crimes continue to take place in the society.

The debate on the abolition of death sentence has caught pace once again after the Bombay High Court, last week, confirmed the capital punishment of Chandrabhan Sanap, who had raped and killed Esther Anuhya, a software engineer. The judgment delivered by the bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre also refers to the observations of Justice Kurien Joseph of the Supreme Court, who sparked the latest debate on the death sentence. In a judgment, Justice Joseph delivered on his retirement day, he expressed the need of the hour to review the if death penalty as a punishment is necessary, especially its purpose and practice.’

The death sentence is vehemently opposed by advocate Navkiran Singh, a human rights lawyer, who thinks India will require at least one century for abolishing capital punishment. While speaking exclusively to The Free Press Journal, Singh said, “No punishment is deterrent to others as nobody cares. Why kill? Will hanging a person bring down the crime rates? The problem is we are not trying to find out the reasons as to why people are resorting to crime.” “We as a society are too good than that of western countries. At least our rehabilitation system still works. We do not have a large number of repeat offenders as compared to that of the western world. Still, we are continuing with this punishment whereas they (western countries) have abolished it,” said Singh, the general secretary of Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI).

The LHRI is a worldwide organisation fighting for human rights. It strongly demands the abolition of death punishment from India. According to Singh, Indians need to learn from Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, who pardoned the killers of their father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi. “We live in a country where reactions are immediate. Ours is an immature democracy. We need to learn a lot from Rahul and Priyanka (Gandhi) how they pardoned killers of their father. I think making citizens understand this will take another century,” Singh added. “One has to look at the fact that even if death sentence is imposed on certain persons, will the crime rates come down? Take example of Delhi gang rape case wherein death has been pronounced and even confirmed by the top court. Still we can see rape cases being reported daily,” Singh said.

Justice (retd). P B Sawant of the Supreme Court, however, thinks death sentence must be given only in specific cases which leaves no room for any other punishment. “I believe death is the only punishment for serial killers, contract killers and so on. These are basically persons who do not think or hesitate even for a second before killing a human being. Such people deserve such a punishment,” Justice Sawant said. Justice Sawant further opined that in cases of gang rape or death after rape, death sentence is the only option. “Such offences need to be stopped and the same can be stopped only when most deterrent punishment is imposed on the wrong doers. Also, even if one accept the argument that there can be an alternative to death sentence, I do not think there can be a stern punishment than this,” said Justice Sawant, who had sent a serial killer to gallows in 1970s, when he was the judge of the Bombay High Court. “There is no other punishment as stern as death. Also, there is no point in letting such people live in the jails. Thus, death sentence cannot be totally abolished,” Justice Sawant said.

Source: (Accessed 29 December 2018)

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