Though inhuman, the death penalty is a necessary deterrent. However, prolonged delays in investigation, trial and judgment, as also the disposal of mercy petitions, should be a valid ground for commuting the death penalty even in the rarest of rare cases. Another important factor is the requirement of unanimity of judicial opinion, in the absence of which the death penalty should neither be awarded nor upheld. In Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s case, no less a person than a Supreme Court judge dissented with his two brother judges and said he should be acquitted.
Maj. Gen. A.B. Gorthi (retd.),
Can anyone enhance the sentence handed down to a convict by courts? A delay in the disposal of mercy petitions for eight to 10 years, or even more, means a death row convict undergoes years of torturous imprisonment, besides being sentenced to death. This is in contravention of the sentence awarded to him.
The death penalty is awarded and confirmed by the highest court of the land after due process of law. Those raising a hue and cry over the implementation of the death sentence should spare a thought for the family members of the victims.
Judges award the death sentence only in the rarest of rare cases. Why then should the executive be allowed to entertain mercy petitions? The Supreme Court should have the final word in the matter. Even the affected family should not be allowed to have a say.
A. Abdul Razack,