The article “Why the death penalty must end” by Kanimozhi (June 5) was thought-provoking. The death penalty is judicially sanctioned murder. It is a form of revenge that is unacceptable to a civilised mind. India is the land of the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi. We take pride in our culture of non-violence and peace. All right-thinking people should demand the abolition of the death penalty which is certainly not a deterrent.
S. Shah Navas,
The words “the certainty of punishment, not severity, is the real deterrent” are significant. The present criminal justice system with its partisan investigations, ineffective trials and delayed judicial pronouncements hardly serves to deter crime. The fact that crimes take place with impunity despite the presence of capital punishment in the statute book proves that it is not a deterrent. The need of the hour are proactive, people-friendly policing and a simple judicial system.
P.J.S. Sudhakar Naik,
It is important for the Indian state and citizenry to understand that the aim of punishment should be to reduce crime in society, not seek vengeance as it serves no purpose except bringing momentary closure to a case.
Advocates of the death penalty argue that it is the severity of punishment that deters crime. However, studies have discredited this belief for it is the regularity, not severity, of punishment that makes a difference. The law must always err on the side of innocence. The execution of a potentially innocent human being should not be acceptable in the pursuit of justice.
The application of capital punishment is often arbitrary and prejudiced. Take the case of the United States where race plays a crucial role in deciding who lives and who dies. In India, too, those with the means to manipulate the criminal justice system rarely face the gallows. The death penalty is a barbaric relic that must be abolished because two wrongs can never make a right.
Not only do constitutional and judicial debates point to ‘miscarriage of justice’ but philosophical and moral debates too tilt heavily in favour of abolishing a law which shakes the principles of humanity. In Albert Camus’ words, the condemned is punished not for the crimes committed, but for the crimes that “might have been and were not committed … The most sweeping uncertainty in this case authorizes the most implacable certainty” (Reflections on the Guillotine).
It is not to display how inhuman the jurisdiction is but to inculcate the fear of death in people so that they would think twice before committing abominable acts that the death penalty exists. If anything is to be done, it should be making sure that injustice is not done to the innocent.