Adding “collective conscience” to the family of vague terms, capital punishment has questioned the very objective of a citizen-centric democracy (“An indefensible statute,” Jan. 25). “An eye for an eye” can never be the solution for a malicious act. Preventive mechanisms to bridge inequality must lie at the core of our policy formulation. As a curative mechanism, suitable processes to rehabilitate offenders must be considered.

Naveena Manoharan, Chennai

A death sentence awarded and a death sentence executed are two different things. Had these sentences, which were upheld by the Supreme Court after a thorough re-examination of all facts and evidences, been executed promptly, there is no denying the fact that the fear of the noose would have acted as a strong deterrent. Capital punishment is the only judicial weapon against the ghastly acts of rape and murder.

Nishant Choudhary, Visakhapatnam

India has retained the death penalty with the caveat that it would be awarded only in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases. The Supreme Court has, however, refused to lay down clear norms on what constitutes ‘rarest of rare’, leaving it to the discretion of the respective judges. The efficacy of this ultimate punishment in acting as a deterrent is highly doubtful if statistical figures are taken into account. Cesare Beccaria, the jurist and philosopher who lived in the 18th century, had pointed out that capital punishment was neither useful nor necessary. A modern society cannot accommodate acts of mass murder and rape, but punishment should be preventive rather than retributive.

Sanobar Shirin, Patna

True, vengeance is absolutely a bad thing which disturbs the peace of mind of the perpetrator and the victim alike. I am against capital punishment. Had it been an effective deterrent, there wouldn’t have been such articles coming up.

Ankita Gora, Ajmer

The death penalty cannot be termed ‘pointless’ just because there have been errors in pronouncing judgment in certain cases. Negligence on the part of certain members of the judicial system dealing with such cases is to blame. This needs to be set right. But capital punishment cannot be completely done away with. A person who hacks to death his kith and kin recklessly can never be reformed or deemed fit to resume normal life. Steps should be taken to avoid grave errors and lapses in pronouncing judgments. But doing away with the death penalty is not the solution.

Aparna Abhimanyu, New Delhi

The bigger question is one of ‘awareness’. Perpetrators living in far-flung villages do not know of statutes that could lead them to the gallows. A man beheading his daughters does not think of capital punishment. But it is a necessary evil because in cases of terrorism and genocide it needs to be applied. What is needed is this: its ‘rareness’ has to be enhanced.

Om Prakash Yadav, Allahabad

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