Opinion » Lead

Updated: March 13, 2013 12:56 IST

The disturbing truth about an execution

Usha Ramanathan
Comment (67)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

By hanging Afzal Guru secretly so that he could not approach the courts, and ignoring the pending case that could have affected his sentence, the Home Minister acted illegally

On March 6, 2013, in response to an RTI request, the President’s Secretariat made available documents pertaining to Ajmal Kasab’s mercy petition. People from across the country and the globe had written to the President asking that he use his clemency power so that the power of the state to take life would be reined in. Recurring with unexpected frequency was an appeal that, if the mercy petitions were to be rejected, the “President and the Ministry of Home Affairs ... respect the practice of promptly informing the individual, his lawyers, his family, of the decision, reasons for the decision, and proposed date of execution as well as the public of any scheduled execution.” Ajmal Kasab was hanged in secrecy on November 21, 2012. Less than three months later there was another secret execution, of Afzal Guru.

In India, of course, this is not about a ‘practice’. It is the law. On February 9, 2013, when Afzal Guru was hanged, was the law followed?

Procedure flouted

The disturbing truth is that Afzal Guru’s execution was illegal. The government flouted the procedure established by law in executing Afzal Guru the way it did; and the Constitution is categorical, in Article 21, that no one shall be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. The Jail Manual is clear: “On receipt from the Administrator of the final confirmation about the date of execution of a convict, the convict and his relatives shall be informed about the date of execution by the Superintendent.” ‘On receipt of’ the ‘final confirmation’, the convict is to be informed. It is, however, reported that Afzal Guru was not informed till 5 a.m. on the day that he was hanged; a mere two hours before he was taken to the gallows. It is impossible, not merely improbable, that the Superintendent did not know about the date of execution till that last minute. By not informing Afzal Guru, the Superintendent breached the law.

The relatives too “shall be informed” about the date of the execution on receipt of final confirmation. To inform is not to send a letter or other missive; the duty cast by the law on the Superintendent is to ‘inform.’ The point of the provision is to give notice of the impending execution of the convict. Afzal Guru’s family learnt of the execution when the rest of the world heard about it, and through the press. The letter sent by speed post reached them two days after he had been executed. Informing the family is not, as some have suggested, about humanitarian considerations; this is about a violation of the law in the process of depriving a person of life.

It is reported that Afzal Guru was buried in jail “in accordance with a directive from the Delhi administration, with the jail authorities saying that there was no request from the family to claim it” (Economic Times, 15.2.2013) This was a deliberate and self-serving distortion of facts.

The Jail Manual prescribes that the convict may “if he so desires, be permitted to prepare a will in accordance with his wishes. If the convict does not desire to prepare his will, his statement to that effect shall be recorded by the Superintendent”. Was Afzal Guru given time to decide about his will? If he was informed of his impending execution at 5 a.m., as is reported, could that have provided him with the opportunity to decide about his will? He had not met his family in a long time. He had no time to get legal help — something that evaded him at every turn. And he was being informed of his execution, literally, on his way to the gallows. Does this constitute conformity with the law? Plainly not.

Deliberate breach

It appears from pronouncements following the execution that these breaches were not caused due to oversight; that they were deliberate. If there are no adverse consequences for these deliberate violations of the procedure prescribed while taking life, it will clear the way for absolute power over life and death. Afzal is beyond reach, so the wrong done to him cannot be undone. His family, however, has borne the pain that this injustice, and violations of the law, have brought to them. Few would disagree that the family has been wronged. There have to be consequences. A public apology which will be an acknowledgement of the wrong done — that will also dilute the impunity that is growing every passing day. Reparation, to the family that has been wronged. And, action against those who were in violation of the law; that would be an act of respect for the rule of law.

Secret executions seem to have acquired the status of state practice. When Kasab was hanged, surreptitiously, in the early hours of November 21, 2012, the Home Minister explained that one of the reasons for practising secrecy was to avoid the possibility of anyone approaching the court, which could delay the execution. He repeated it, as one would a formula, after Afzal Guru’s execution. This is unconstitutional. No one can be deprived of his or her right to judicial recourse. For the Home Minister of the country to ensure secret execution so that such judicial recourse may be denied is against all norms of civilised jurisprudence.

A Bench of the Supreme Court has reserved orders on the effect of delay on the execution of the sentence of death. The judgment of the court, which is yet to be delivered, would have had a direct bearing on whether Afzal Guru’s death sentence could be carried out, or not; he had been under the shadow of the death sentence for over 10 years when he was hanged. On 20 February, 2013, when a three judge bench of the Supreme Court stayed the execution of the four alleged aides of the forest brigand Veerappan, it was on the express recognition that the decision of the court that had reserved orders was of direct relevance to the convicts before the court.

This was the judicial consideration to which Afzal Guru was entitled. The punishment is irreversible, and, for that reason, should have been deferred till the outcome in the pending challenge. By executing him secretly so that he may not approach the courts, and by ignoring the pending case that could impact on his death sentence, the Home Minister acted illegally. The court needs to demand an explanation from the Minister about the nature of the power he seems to think he has.

Lack of representation

On 11 February, 2013, two days after he had been executed, a case was quietly disposed of in the Supreme Court. Early in 2011, Afzal Guru had filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for his transfer to Srinagar Central Jail so that his family, which included his mother, wife and young son, could visit him — something that distance and cost was making prohibitive. This case was filed through the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, but the lawyer was repeatedly absent from the hearings, which prompted the court to ask the SCLSC to look into it and submit a report to the court.

As reported by V. Venkatesan in The Hindu (19.2.2013), the lawyer told the court on 23 November 2012 that someone else would be representing Afzal Guru; the court asked the SCLSC to find an explanation for the tardiness and submit a report to the court; the status of the case, on 4 January, 2013 did not indicate that any report had been filed. This was just one more time that Afzal Guru was left without proper representation. And, a single judge, in chambers, on 11 February, merely took judicial notice of the execution, found that the hanging had made the petition infructuous, and dismissed the petition!

The least that this calls for is an enquiry, followed by consequences for violations of the law, an apology and reparation to the family of Afzal Guru, an end to secret executions and a guarantee of non-repetition.

(The writer is research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, teaches law at the Indian Law Institute and is a regular guest professor in many universities around the world)

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Depriving any one of justice contradicts the equality our nation vouch
for. Such deeds open the door for the irrational, and should be nipped
it in the bud.

from:  matt
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 16:42 IST

Though I understand from where the author is coming, However the 2
examples of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru are wrong. I personally have no
sympathy for either one of them. Both of them have plotted against the
country and against its citizens.

from:  Ebby
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 13:29 IST

The criminal being sent to gallows might have committed a heinous
crime (even if the case against him has been shown to have loopholes),
but the modes operandi adopted in his execution not only deprived him
of his constitutionally guaranteed right but also his family , of
their right to meet him.Their crime was,to the most, being a party to
a such high profile controversial case. Whatever we might say to
justify the actions of executing authorities or our own seemingly
collective conscience of rarest of rare method of punishment; none can
revert the injustice that Afzal Guru's son was forced through by this
manner of hanging of his father.

from:  Parushya
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:18 IST

OK, but the trial of the Italian marines will be by the book. Honest. Come on, why don't you send them back?

from:  Ashu
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:07 IST

When criminals commit "rarest of rare" heinous crimes that stuns the nation, what is wrong if the "rarest of rare" techniques are adopted in ending his life? I suggest the author does research on why criminals commit themselves to suchheinous crimes and come out with measures to correct their attitude instead of research in decisions made by government.

from:  S Raghavan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:42 IST

The India that was compassionate is missing. Indians are losing their heart. The people who run the Government are like cannibals. It is not the terrorists that ruin this country called India but the unqualified, greedy, illeterate politicians. Why is there no punishment for the politicians.

from:  Kali
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:38 IST

Our 'confident and dynamic' new generation is by and large, a band of knee-jerkers who does not have the wits or patience to look into the intricacies of an issue. It is not without reason that the Western world (especially Europe) has moved ahead of the mob justice mentality, and guarantees rights to convicts however heinous or treacherous their crimes have been. It is all about maintaining a moral high ground for the government and law. A terrorist might flout all laws, but that is no reason for the government or justice system to do the same. I am sure most of the new generation would never be able to get this into their head. It is simply beyond their thinking capacity, which is tuned more to see the world as black and white.

from:  Vineeth
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 17:58 IST

Whatever else Mr. Guru may have been, the due processes of the law should have been followed without exception. The more such legal discrepancies emerge, the more it strengthens the view that this case was a colossal snafu.

from:  Sridhar S
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 17:28 IST

This article is disturbing, supporting terrorists and declining stern action against them. Sad the freedom of expression being exploited in India. This is treachery.

from:  Makarand
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 17:11 IST

Any one doing any such terorist activities against the nation no sympathy to be shown. Seceret hanging only the solution, otherwise they will do many bad things to our country before they die

so it is good to hang all left out secretly

from:  rajan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 17:02 IST

It is disheartening to read so many negative comments directed towards the author's view. Many have this misguided concept that any perpetrator should not be treated humanely because they themselves have not considered the same. One must remember that a terrorist is not bound by the law and his/her actions are accountable only to her/him but the state is constrained by the Rule of law and by abrogating the perceived laws and rules it paves the way for a state with no accountability which will eventually lead to a whole violation of citizens rights. We should stand for what is right and what is constitutionally valid. I fully support the authors apprehensions.

from:  R.Kithan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 16:55 IST

Dear Editor,
The person described in this article was sentenced to death by the
Supreme Court of India and was represented at all stages of his
conviction from the High Court to the Supreme Court. He was still
found guilty, I dont understand the need for this guilt laden article
that in trying to prick the conscious of the general public. He never
thought of his family when he indulged in terror activities, what
about the people who were killed bcos of his actions??? Were they
given time to execute their will??? or their loved ones informed that
they would be killed??? It is ridiculous to show mercy to such
individuals or conclude that they were not adequately represented.
Coming to the political issue the politics in J&K is very very
fragile. If the decision to execute him was announced, the court order
could not have been carried out given the massive political influence
held by the separatist. He cannot be forgiven just for being a

from:  Sudeep
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 16:53 IST

This is truly unbiased and bold journalism. The only ray of hope left in
this manipulated media controlled society. The time is not far away when
we Indians will regret taking no action to rid our country of social
malaise, corruption and nepotism.

from:  Dhruv
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 16:47 IST

One wonders what great purpose is served by such a write up which
tries to rail the government over an event with enormous quotes of
legal quibbling .
Did all those innocent people who were victims of Afzal Guru and his
group get such a chance to inform their kith and kins before they died
on the day when the parliament was attacked?
It is an insult to all the heroes of security forces who gave their
lives so that others can live to indulge in such meaningless
outpourings even after a delayed justice of sorts.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 16:05 IST

I think Home ministry has done clear justice to those who died surprisingly in Parliament attack.

Why every good laws should be for those who had committed henious crimes, such as attacking parliament, 26/11 attack etc. Also think for those who died in terrorist attack (it is much more surprise for them as some die while returning from office, some just went out for roaming and died etc.)
Indian media needs to change its attitude towards criticizing government unnecessary. Every one knows Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab, Ram Singh, but has media ever reported name of the two soldiers be headed by pak army.

from:  Sanju Kohli
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 16:03 IST

it is high time that we need to talk about injustice that is being done to common Indian, we can worry about terrorists once we set our common man's life right.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 15:56 IST

I take this hanging decision has better late than never.
No terrorist meets you by taking an appointment.Then why show these many policies for them.
These so called terrorist are famous than the people who got killed.
I am sure nobody even remembers anybody's name.
It is another politics placed in line with these terrorist name and they live for ever after execution..which is very bad...

from:  ANair
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 15:52 IST

I fully agree that (if the claims are correct) the hanging was against constitutional norms. However, one question still arises. What if there was a uproar from the terrorist groups (like Jaish-e- Mohammad) and they carried out a plan to release him (as for eg. Maulana Massod Azhar, Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Zargar was released in the Kandahar incident..and we knew later what they did! ) .In this context I would also like to draw attention to : In an e-mail sent to a media house Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, an Islamic fundamentalist organisation, owned responsibility for the attack and claimed the blast was carried out in retaliation to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's death sentence.
So, the question is : LAW for Death Convict or common people security?
In case of Dhanonjoy execution, his family was informed a priori (as far as I remember.) and all legal matters were carried out. These two convicts, although equal in terms of punishment, should not be treated on equal footing as they belong to completely different genres of crime.

from:  Souvik Priyam Adhya
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 15:39 IST

A group of middle-class have got their logic stand on heads. This has been the case in most of the cases, be it Delhi rape, Mumbai attack or Parliament attack.

Their argument seems to be that "first let us decide who is culprit, then we conduct investigation", "first let us carry out execution, then law can take its due course" and so on.

from:  Janarddan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:59 IST

Damn if you do, damn if you not. Agreed that Afzal could have used another legal remedies to represent his case, but does that mean frequently approaching to courts and executive will diminish his crime? After all he was convicted for helping terrorists who took many innocent lives. Had it been a case where he was not given any chance to represent himself, I'd have agreed with you, but he was given more than due chance and time. So secret execution should not be equated to illegal execution. There is huge uproar over getting back the body of Afzal Guru and god knows what would have happened if decision to execute him was made public well in advance.

from:  Abhishek Garg
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:57 IST

Congrats The Hindu... ; for writing such a bold article and standing in the side of Human Rights without getting influenced by who the person involved is...

In my ears, I can hear the new generation - whose values are rooted in facebook goondaism and for whom justice means revenge - yelling at the author because of the peculiarity of the person who is denied human rights here.

from:  Thomachan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:51 IST

I might be called heartless but I really fail to understand why is there such and hue and cry
for a terrorist being hanged ? Did Afzal Guru or Ajmal Kasab inform us before they killed
hundreds of innocent people not sparing even women and children. Why aren't our human
right activist equally pained when our soldiers are slaughtered by these terrorists ? Is it
because a soldier does not deserve Human Right which is guaranteed to a terrorist but not a
The fact that they were even given a trial even after their acts speaks volumes on our
country's resolve to uphold law.
These men did crime against humanity without any regret. Do they deserve such
sympathies? I would rather reserve my sympathies for the victims of their ghastly acts.
And if they were denied rights to meet their families I would say it is all Karma " what goes
around comes around"

from:  Amrita
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:24 IST

I fully subscribe to the points that there were deviations of
processes laid down in execution of Kasab & Afzal Guru. Hence, I
strongly opine that the relevant laws should be amended so that no
recourse to abide by the procedures of execution, like intimation to
the relatives, handing over of the body, etc., should be available in
the statutes to such mercenaries of barbarism who wage war against
India and Indians, once the Supreme Court & President deny mercy
petitions. These are cases against the Sovereignty of India and acts
of terrorism which killed Indian para military forces and innocent
Additional provisions also have to be incorporated against the, so
called, champions of Human rights who are shamelessly more worried
about safeguarding the interests of terrorists than the Victims and
their families. Terrorists and criminals cannot be painted with the
same brush and seek same provisions under Indian laws any more.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:04 IST

Did he inform the people who were killed in parliament 2-3 days before?

from:  chandan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:59 IST

The hanging of Afzal Gurtu(even in death his proper name is not used) will be a Very Black Blot in the Indian Judicial System.First
of all he had not been a direct participant in the assault on Parliament and other evidences -at best-can be (if one is inclined)
termed as " circumstantial" like the case built up against Inspector Kehar Singh.The Govt.played into the hands of "OPPORTUNISTS" who thought they can get a boost in the Election Politics by showing the "WILL" to deal with Terrorists.
However,no one - even the media - do not think it worth to investigate the most damaging war Pakistan is waging against Indian without firing a single shot - the import of fake Indian currencies by Indian collaborators (importers )to destabilize the economy.

from:  Ajith Kumar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:58 IST

the country has already started paying a heavy price for this injustices, in the form of civil unrest and terrorist attack on CRPF post today.

Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:39 IST

The mentality of the author of this article is same as those people who admonish a Dalit who has sincerely prayed but has not followed procedure laid in the scriptures . She is prescribing punishment for not following procedure by Home Minister but forgetting that a person who had colluded with terrorists and caused death of many Policemen was hanged as directed by Supreme Court of India which is an act of satisfying people of India who are the cause and guarantor of all the freedoms and fundamental rights within the boundaries of a land called India.

from:  masa
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:35 IST

India is really a very strange country.First of all we keep on harping why terrorist and criminals, convicted of rare of the rarest crimes, are not taken to gallows,why government spends so much amount of money on these criminals,why it doesn't take fast actions but when it does we all become against the government.I think it is one of the action government should have taken much earlier..............

from:  Saurabh Vijay
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:27 IST

one can give a million excuse trying to prove the execution wrong but
the fact remains that this man was a terrorist who attacked the symbol
of Indian democracy,the very values that we as a country hold dear and
stand for. And nothing other then death penalty(if not more)can be a
fitting punishment for such is said that Mr Guru was informed
about his death 2 hours before but think those who die in terrorist attacks die instantly. no information about death?? also that the family
did not get the chance to bury the dead body Just imagine thos who die in terrorist attacks many bodies are mutilated, body parts missing?? if u are taking about Mr Guru and families right what about
the rights of the victims of the Terrorist attacK ? Dont they have any
rights? or is it just that their rights are not glamorous enough for
the author to write about.Terrorists whichever community they may belong to must be punished stringently, if we are to protect ourselves. period.

from:  lemter
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:24 IST

why are you writing such article which helps ter__orists to find a cause
against India, TODAY 5 solders killed. is it not inhuman ?? why dont you
ask them NOT to kill...why are you pointing finger at govt. of
india...why not those organisazations whicha re killing indias by
bom__bs and firings, behead__ings.. STOP WRITING SUCH ARTICLES, first
meet family of jawans and then talk.

from:  veer
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:21 IST

The article is about the art of hair-splitting. The author is an expert in, it appears. Otherwise she would not have worried about the opportunity of writing Will of a person, who did not believe in Indian Constitution, who was knowing that he will be hanged on the day his death penalty was confirmed by Supreme court. He could have made his will in the long period he was in jail waiting to know" whether he will survive " death penalty ( because of mercy of Indian people represented by The President).

from:  ANIL P.
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 13:10 IST

Another pseudo "human rights activist". Why do only criminals have the
right to live, right to liberty, right to fair trial (and right to what
not), and not the innocent people who lose their lives in these vicious

from:  sakar arora
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 12:20 IST

not agree with your view...

from:  manjit chahal
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 12:07 IST

The really disturbing thing is absence of proof that Afzal Guru was
really hanged.In the face of refusal by the govt to hand over his body
many people ask if he was mistreated/beaten to death/murdered and
then the whole thing covered up as a judicial hanging.From a local
newspaper report it seems that request for disclosure of evidence of
his hanging like copy of black warrant/Doctors report/copy of will etc
was refused under RTI by the government.
It seems there are skeletons in the cupboard and curiously local
(especially widely read English language dailies) in Kashmir did not
report the important disclosure of Shabnam Qayoom regarding the letter
he had received from Afzal Guru.
The whole episode is a blot on the Indian Legal System and concerned
citizens should keep up their fight to know the truth till all the
facts become clear

from:  taffazull
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 12:05 IST

I appreciate you for taking so much efforts and pains to write this article. But I would appreciate it more if people like you do this for the people of this nation who are poor and do not know the provisions of the criminal acts and are rotting in the Indian jails for many years. As they can not get bail due to lack of money and other much needful information of the procedures. Ministers accused of fraud of many crores and of murders come out of jail in few days. And people like you are interested in the cases of much glamour than the cases of common people who are in more need of your talent in such cases. And one more thing for those guardians of human rights of criminals, may I ask them to guard the human rights of the common people of this nation of their rights to life, to food, to water of good quality to drink, to live in a corruption free state etc.

from:  Balawant Mundhe
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 12:02 IST

Afzal guru is dead and gone.Enough of discussing the man.

from:  J.S.Acharya
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:47 IST

I will never understand what people of our country really want. When
Kasab was not hanged, they always complained about the late judgment
and the money spent on his security. And now when he was finally given
capital punishment, they are giving lectures about human rights and
dignity. What about the people killed in the terror attacks? Did they
not have a right to live? Did they get out thinking that it would be
the last day of their lives. What about their plans, their rights, and
their dignity to live how they wanted to? Didn't they have their
families?? Have they been given the chance to write their will?? Why
don't you write about the families who have lost their loved ones in
the terror attack. Why don't you write about how they are surviving
without them. One lone person who has several deaths on his conscience
deserves capital punishment, one way or another. Please stop blaming
the government for every action.

from:  Richa Agarwal
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:44 IST

I am common man with common view and I love this country . Government has hanged a traitor and terrorist and even if they flouted the law I will still support the government .There is no law applicable for terrorist and traitors in this world. Do they think about law, innocent people when they blow bombs in crowded cities or trains killing innocent souls. These terrorist should not have any legal process at all, they should be terminated soon we find them. By doing so government can save a lot of money spent on them which can be used for development work and secondly people will know what will happen if they wage war against this country.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:34 IST

People vomit these kind of thoughts when they have overdose of these
1. Luxurious living;
2. Hassle free life with powerful contacts
3. No struggle for the arrangement of daily needs
4. Never lost near and dear ones in terrorist attacks
5. An extreme desire for recognition and appreciation as being
humanist and rightful thinking (though its not the way they seem)
A person with this type of thinking on the pretext of protecting the
rights of evil-doers infact tries to snatch the rights of innocent
It would have been great if the author had criticized the government
to do the hangings secretly rather than in open places as it would
have shown the guts of the government and a warning to the enemies of
Humanists please look inside yourself and then complain. You should
not forget that the people for whom you are fighting were the cruel
assassins of poor innocent peoples and deserved even harsher

from:  Vijendra Singh Tanwar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:24 IST

This article has articulated very well and explains very lucidly that we can expedite the process of execution of prisoners secretly without their knowledge and their families knowledge however rejecting the clemency petition plays the keyrole in these executions. The court has every right to demand an explanation from the Minister and others who all are part of these execution about the nature of the power they seems to think they has.

from:  karthik
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:21 IST

Usha Ramanathan has made cogent points that need to be seriously
considered. These are alarming facts that point to incipient fascist
trends born out of a deep-rooted feeling of insecurity, dubious moves
to shed the tag of a 'soft state', and a cavalier attitude towards
upholding the rule of law. An Indian citizen has been executed under
questionable circumstances:those in power would do well to heed the
writer's call for an enquiry,and subsequently, if so warranted,
apology, reparation and an end to secret hangings. Else the common
Indian's regard for the legal system might be badly shaken, and
India’s aspirations for being deemed an enlightened nation might
suffer great damage.

from:  suranjan roy
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:14 IST

I have just one question, Wasn't what Guru did was illegal and breaking
of law? Wasn't his acts a deliberate attempt to breach the law of the

from:  Udit Vashisht
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 11:10 IST

The writer gave a reference of Article 21 of our constitution. The
murderers have right to take life of innocent people but our law should
take care of the right of those criminals. Murderers and terrorists have
right to live and innocent people have right to die. It is right for the
murderers to to take right of other but our law should protect their
right. It is highly frustrating to see people talking about right of

from:  Akshay Dhadda
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 10:34 IST

Ever since the hanging of Kasab and Guru, the newspaper has published an unending number of
articles from "intellectuals" talking about the rights of the two and
how they were trampled upon by the government. During this period, did
we see one article on the lives of the widows and orphans of the NSG
commandos and others who were killed?

from:  Vaibhav
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 09:55 IST

There is no need of the death sentence in the civilised nation, least hanging in the connivance.

This is the shameful act when we consider that 2014 elections are around the corner and Afzal Guru had been major political issue that BJP had. So, should we conclude that for the political benefit, the ruling party breached civil and moral laws to hang a human being?

from:  Mahesh J
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 09:53 IST

A complete breach of the constitution... the home minister behaved like a monarch forgetting that india is a representative democracy..people have elected him. A very strong action should be take otherwise tomorrow they will come up with breaking another law of the land.

from:  divya
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 09:37 IST

reality lies here....we must be conservative on all fronts,writer has beautifully exposed the truth,that by premature hanging afzal ,not only superintendent,but delhi has also voilated a law. in nutshell reality never hides.

from:  zeeshan hamdani
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 09:18 IST

Usha Ramanathan, Did the terrorists follow rules and laws before they attacked our country and killed innocent people ? You may prefer a lengthy judicial process followed by incarceration (which would eventually lead to clemency or release in exchange for hostages in the future). However, a quick, silent and clandestine execution is the best way to punish these criminals and set an example to deter such acts of terrorism.

from:  Ramu
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 09:16 IST

This is a very powerful indictment of the government and the prison authorities. The incidents shows that the government has scant respect for the rule of law. When the most pious parts of our constitution can be violated blatantly like this, what is the guarantee that the life, honour,freedom and property of the average Indian citizen will be protected? No wonder the Head of our capital city laments its insecure environment. Why would people obey the law if the government does not?

from:  V. Sasi Kumar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 08:31 IST

Ushaji's article is no doubt thought provoking and a well documented one
for the students. But is it necessary to open the pendora box at a time
when we are trying to tighten loose ends on security issues concering
the mation and the citizens?

from:  malolan
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 08:30 IST

Over strectched logic.You can condemn a young man moving with a girl & staying together in hotel as rapist based on a verdict delivered in two weeks.This in a country where judicial prononucments are known for their inordinate delays.Thanks to the Dravida parties and Akalis Afzal met this fate.Is not it ridiculous for TN assembly to pass a resolution to save Rajiv killers from hanging?

from:  Prasenjit
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 08:28 IST

Once a sentence has been passed it is known any morning you could be hanged. I think
the family knows this . They did have quite a time from the time sentence was passed till he was hanged. Time is relative , to say you should have told me one hour before, one day before or one month before, how is it going to change final verdict. Either you abolish capital punishment or you follow it. How you do it and when you do it is left to the jail authorities once the final verdict has been passed. My brother was not informed , my wife was not informed, my children were not informed and it goes on.
Secret execution should be what has to be followed instead of making a capital
punishment a live display as in arab nations and china for the entire media ,
politicians and learned law practisers to have entertainment at the cost of the
punished and his family.

from:  dr gowrisankar reddy
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 08:13 IST

I completely agree with the editor view that everybody should have
right but not in all circumstances, he also needs to look for the both
side of the coin. What if exact execution date announcement lead to
unrest in the society or further terrorist attack. Why we are arguing
about right of a that person who is actually responsible for many
lives and guilty of waging war on a nation. These are the heinous
crime. Only because of our constitutional right we have waited for
approximately 10 year in Afjal Guru case and 3-4 years in Kasab case.
Now its high time, If people found guilty of such heinous crime there
should have benn no waitting period of such a long time, execute them
asap and set example to the world.

from:  Ankit Singh
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 08:04 IST

I agree with the broader point made by the author about secret executions. The Government seems to be unable to uphold the rule of law in dealing with mob violence that it fears certain events could generate. However, the author has not answered the central question that most citizens have been asking - why wasn't Afzhal's sentence carried out sooner? His death sentence was confirmed by the supreme court long ago and his clemency petition was pending before (and finally rejected by) the President. Is that not final?
What more process was due for Afzal that could have reversed the sentence? There is the other argument that it is cruel to delay execution of an inmate for an inordinate period of time once the death sentence is confirmed. Overall, this is an instance of an incompetent Government that needed secrecy to carry out a lawful execution rather than acting in a straight-forward and timely manner.

from:  Bala Raja
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 07:55 IST

These rules are designed for criminal cases .Terrorists conspiring against the integrity of the nation cannot be punished under such a law .Looking at the pendomonium in Kashmir following execution you could impagine what would happen if terrorits , separatist leaders etc would have got a clu when he was being hanged . In the context of the larger picture the way the kasab and afzal's execution was handled was the best way they could be punished .They are not ordinary criminals .The belong to a fringe in the society who want to break India aand create an Islamic cliphites.You need to treat thyem like USA treated Osama and is ytreating them at Guetamalay bay

from:  Raman Koul
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 07:52 IST

Though it is a well written essay on purported breches of law one wonders if one should go in defence of established terrorists like Kasab and Afzal who caused irrepairable loss of innocent lives and how any civilised person can condone their heinous crimes and plead for them.It would be worth remembering here that there have been scores of innocent victims of state repression against which not many come out to seek punishment for breaches.Why this type of differential approach?

from:  G.Kulandaivelu
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 07:47 IST

It is utterly shameful and disgusting that our government and its officials pay no heed to the law. But is this anything new? We have become accustomed to misuse of power and authority by the government at all levels and in multiple different instances such as 2G, coal block allocations, commonwealth scam, etc. Starting from the peon at a government office to the highest level, everyone in a government post expects to get away with flouting the law to the extent possible based on their rank in the hierarchy. We have indeed lost the highest values of Dharma that our leaders aspired to in our ancient past, we have lost the ideals that our freedom fighters wanted our country to be based upon, and it is a loss keenly felt. We need our people to wake up and decide what kind of government we want. We only get the government we deserve.

from:  shashi
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 07:27 IST

This is an eye opener.
An to me at least, this is a Anti National Act, unlike how it's
perceived by the masses.
Such cruel injustices gives impetus to stressful activities ( terror?)
an the ploy of the Ministry in question can't be mistaken?

from:  Ravi B
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 06:49 IST

From my experience,the government reneges on its promises many times, like non servicing on insurance policy and colluding by lower courtsin trampling justice by forcing to cough up money through filing of cases.While on paper court may look to be independent, but lower courts are functioning as a sub office of government primarily!

from:  atis
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 06:35 IST

The Home Minister should have ensured that constitutional laws were followed to the letter. His statements post the event were shockingly naive.

from:  Gouri N
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 06:24 IST

Can we please stop flogging the dead horse. Have we ever paid such
attention to suicides by farmers, death due to starvation or beheading
of Indian soldier? Stop make a dead terrorist an icon!!!

from:  SHASHI
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 05:57 IST

The writer may be right in the legal tenor of the conduct of execution. However the discretion of the executive in such sensitive matters seems to have been ignored. Here is an individual who conspired to attach the symbol of our democracy and whose case has been in the courts for a number of years. The carrying out of the punishment pronounced by the highest court of the land should not be debated in such an insensitive manner. It is as if the writer would have preferred the convict to commit suicide in the cell where he was imprisoned and given rise for further controversy as in the recent case of the gang rape accused. Let us learn to respect the laws of the land and not create precedence for delaying justice.

from:  R.Vijaykumar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 05:32 IST

It really requires tons of patience to write a furious yet completely
sensible and accurate article like this. The entire episode starting
from the shoddy trial of Afzal Guru to his secret execution speaks
volumes about inhumanity that is existent abundantly in the
subcontinent. At the footnote, it is mentioned that the writer is
research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies --
well, people will argue that even this current state of development at
which this particular country is in, is a huge achievement -- the
nation has come from the barbaric times of sati and literal
untouchability only less than a century back. The likes of Swami
Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi have not been fully successful in
civilizing this nation yet.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 03:04 IST

There is much sympathy for Afzal Guru who was a member of JeM terrorist group that is supported by Pakistan. An attack on the Country's Parliament was an against the Country by our Western neigbour. What about the innocent policemen who were killed defending the Parliament? Is there no sympathy for them?

from:  krishna
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 02:20 IST

It makes me dizzy to read such articles.
I mean I do get the point the author is attempting to make.
On a flip side - why haven't such scholars written articles about the 'justice' (injustice should I say?) served to those gravely affected by the acts of poeple like afjal and kasab.
I am very sure that government has broken/ not followed many laws in serving those affected in the many terror incidents. And in my narrow-minded opinion parents of such 'celebrities' should consider their offsprings dead when they have been proven guilty by the justice system.
Imagine you lost someone close to you due the cowardly acts of people like Kasab and you find articles in The Hindu portraying how bad the government is in communicating regarding their death penalty.

from:  Manoj
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 01:38 IST

Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru are high profile, politically sensitive cases, where by and large, proper procedures were followed for the sentence. Given the dismal number of cases which actually get thru the process, this was a relief.
There are cases which deserve the capital punishment. Indian judicial system is far more careful and does not dole out death sentences as standard fare, as do China or even USA.
In my opinion, the author has taken a very narrow view. The larger and more pressing issues are prison reforms, humane treatment of 'not high profile' prisoners, prisoners languishing in prisons waiting for trials, prisoners jailed for political retribution etc.
A moral high ground for the faceless prisoners is much more important than pouting for undeserving few. Let us invest blood, sweat and tears for justice to the muted.

from:  Dr. AJay
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 01:16 IST
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