One fails to understand why a delay in the disposal of a mercy petition is being blown out of proportion. To my mind, it is nothing but a ploy to deny justice to the families of the victims of hardcore criminals and terrorists who deserve no mercy. The so-called rights activists fail to acknowledge that a delay is more agonising for the families of the victims who have been cooling their heels with patience over years to see justice — retributive justice — done to them.
Why is it so difficult to appreciate that what is at stake is not the future of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and other death row prisoners but the cause of justice? Another reason advanced for the commutation of a death sentence is the probability of a law and order problem in the event of a backlash — from the Akalis in Punjab in the case of Bhullar and Tamil chauvinists in the case of Rajiv Gandhi assassins. This is preposterous!
M. Jameel Ahmed,
Death row convicts’ appeals for clemency smack of hypocrisy; they long for life while being responsible for taking others’ lives. The constitutional provision of clemency seeks to undo the work of courts. Conviction is the job of courts; commutation of the death sentence in the name of clemency will only lead to the erosion of faith in the justice delivery system.
The Supreme Court has done justice to the victims and their families by rejecting Bhullar’s petition. Those who advocate the scrapping of capital punishment should appreciate that it is not advisable to do so in a country like India, which is a target of terrorism and where crimes such as rape are on the rise. Bhullar, the LTTE terrorists who killed Rajiv Gandhi and all terrorists who killed innocent people had a ‘mission’ to accomplish and did not show an iota of humanity or mercy to their hapless victims. They deserve the punishment the highest court of the land handed out to them.
But since Bhullar is reported to be mentally unsound and the decision to award him the death sentence was not unanimous (it was a 2:1 split verdict) and there is a request from his State to spare his life, his case needs to be seen from a different angle. A nation will gain nothing by executing a mentally unstable person.
Capt. T. Raju (retd.),
I was a resident of the U.S. for nearly three decades where the death penalty was very much the norm in several States, including Washington where I lived. The degree of application varied. Whereas States like Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania carried out executions more frequently, in smaller States, capital punishment was rarer. As in India, the justification for capital punishment in the U.S. was “necessary deterrent.” But in reality, the perpetrator’s social status, and the colour and social status of the victim were the deciders.
With reference to the Bhullar case, it is quite clear that the government has bungled. Former Presidents Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil have caused serious damage to the clemency process by their studied inaction. Hence, the clearest route in Bhullar’s case is to commute his death sentence. The application of the death penalty is unequal and a dark remainder of our colonial past. Fully realising this, South Africa has done away with it.