This refers to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer’s appeal to the authorities to abolish the death sentence (“Terror and horror of the death sentence,” Feb. 17). One can understand his humanitarian concerns and sympathy for those sentenced to death — awaiting execution. But what about the terror and horror perpetrated by the four associates of forest brigand Veerappan, convicted of killing 22 security personnel in a landmine blast?

It is a universal fact that life is given by god and can be taken away only by god. But who gave these criminals the right to take away 22 lives?

J.P. Reddy,


Justice Iyer is absolutely right in saying that life is given by god. But his argument that it can be taken away only by god doesn’t seem to be correct. Terrorists are taking away lives almost every day. Human rights are meant to be enjoyed by manavas (humans), not daanavaas (demons). Life sentence in India means imprisonment for about 15 years. And it is quite well known that for those who have money and influence, prisons are guest houses.

Karavadi Raghava Rao,


Does Justice Iyer’s argument hold good for well-planned and rehearsed contract killings also? Some time ago, a Tamil publication carried an interview with a former criminal — a dada — who described in detail how a contract murder is carried out. In one such murder in which he participated, he said, a team of killers waited in ambush. While one cut the heel of the victim, the other castrated him. The dada slit the victim’s throat and collected blood to show his boss that the contract had been carried out. Do such people deserve mercy?

It is because of the “rarest of the rare” principle that contract killers are emboldened to kill those they do not even know.

V. Anantha Subramaniam,


The death sentence does not let a convict realise his mistake. It kills the body, not the criminal mind. The convicts should instead be awarded a life sentence in solitary confinement. A life without any nuance of social cohabitation is not a life at all, and is more burdensome than death. By passing such a sentence on a dreaded criminal, the state will force him to rue his action for the rest of his life. The state should not take a person’s life because many principles of criminal justice are often violated by the law-enforcement agencies.

Piyush Kumar Pandey


More In: Letters | Opinion