Humanitarian concepts are not alien to the country, says the jurist
“Our worst enemies couldn’t have done it better.” This was how jurist Fali S Nariman reacted to the execution of Afzal Guru without his family being properly informed.
“These things have to be thought out from a humanitarian aspect. You may certainly hang somebody because the President has refused his mercy plea. At the same time, humanitarian concepts are not alien to India,” Mr. Nariman told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s “Devil’s Advocate” programme.
“The way it was done. It was unfortunate. I am sure they did not think it out.”
Though the decision to hang the Parliament attack case convict on February 9 was communicated to his family members by Speed Post as per the jail manual, nothing stopped the authorities from informing them on the phone, he said.
Communicating through telephone was given the go-by as “some government minion must have thought that Afzal Guru will obtain a stay against the death warrant by moving court.”
Asked about handing over the body to Afzal’s family, Mr. Nariman said if there was truly an apprehension that it could be utilised for a big demonstration, then the government would be justified in retaining the body as per the jail manual.
Has the Indian state diminished itself by failing to live up to the minimum standard of expectation, in not allowing a dying man to bid farewell to his wife and son?
“Yes, but not consciously. But nonetheless that would be a legitimate inference to draw and therefore some minion of the government who has to be told that there is something wrong with our whole system of educating people in the humane aspects of life.”
The jurist said the Home Minister (Sushilkumar Shinde) could be held responsible indirectly, but not directly, for the action as it was “absolutely callous.”
“They have just not done their home work... It is very unfortunate. There is something wrong with the whole administrative set-up,” Mr. Nariman said. The manner in which Afzal’s execution was carried out was an embarrassment to India.
Asked whether the time had come to abolish the death penalty, Mr. Nariman said, “Judges are not agreed on it, people are not agreed on it, Presidents are not agreed on it. It is a very doubtful situation.”