While countries around the world are going about abolishing the capital punishment for its inhumane nature, we in India, one of the more ancient civilisations, are exacerbating the cruelty by torturing death-row inmates while they are alive, to boot. Many studies have shown that the death penalty is no real deterrent to crime. If the courts still insist on sentencing our brethren to death for heinous crimes, the least they could do is to ensure that the double jeopardy of state-sponsored torture, which is a direct violation of the fundamental rights, does not seem to take place.
The article, “Condemned to die, but not to wait” (Feb. 5), brings out an incongruent duality in the Supreme Court’s adjudication. On the one hand, it callously denies the country's LGBT community the fundamental right to freedom, and on the other, it makes a show of adhering to niceties in sticking up for the rights of persons who have committed heinous crimes. If the Court displays any semblance of integrity of purpose, it is in continuing — in retaining the death penalty as well as discriminating against homosexual persons — to baulk the refinement of mindsets that has occurred the world over.
Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees not merely the “right to life” but — and more importantly — the right to dignified life. Even if the death sentence has robbed the convict of the former, it is unconscionable for the latter to be denied to the convict, nay, human being.
Mechanical activities can be handled with efficiency and speed. However, delay is inherent in any procedure where intellectual discernment is at play and where there is an attempt to get to the truth. It often takes time to examine all aspects of such a case thoroughly enough, especially since a life is literally at stake. It is unfortunate and irrational that procedural delays in deciding on mercy petitions is deemed a reason to overturn the judgment.
Tripunithura, Kerala There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future. A person on death row may mitigate the ‘torture’ by making productive use of his time as he waits for his mercy plea to be decided on, but that in no way absolves the Court or the President of the cruelty of the inordinate delay. Furthermore, if the President himself is so confounded by the morality of the case, perhaps it is just as well that the convict is given the benefit of the doubt and receives commutation to life sentence.