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Eminent citizens unite against death penalty

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Terming death penalty a “cruel and barbaric” punishment used mainly against the “marginalised and poor”, hundreds of eminent citizens, including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, actor Aamir Khan, sociologist Andre Beteille, economist Jagdish Bhagwati and author Vikram Seth among others, issued a public statement on Sunday opposing the practice. 

Arguing that more than 70 per cent of the world’s countries were abolitionist in law or practice, they said India “clings to the death penalty against a worldwide trend of abolition” when it served no purpose and had no deterrent value.

The > signatories to the statement included Aamir Khan, Abhijit Banerjee, Amitav Ghosh, Anand Teltumbde, André Béteille, Aruna Roy, Bezwada Wilson, Gurcharan Das, Jagdish Bhagwati, Javed Akhtar, Justice Prabha Sridevan, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, K.B. Saxena, Karan Thapar, Medha Patkar, M.S. Swaminathan, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandita Das, Ness Wadia, Pankaj Mishra, Prabhat Patnaik, Ramachandra Guha, Sharmila Tagore, Shyam Benegal, Surjit Bhalla, Swaminathan S.A. Aiyar, Upendra Baxi, Vikram Seth, Vrinda Grover and hundreds of lawyers, artists, economists, writers and citizens. 

“It is irreversible and therefore cannot be part of an error-prone legal system,” read their statement titled “ > We Oppose the Death Penalty”.

“India, however, still lingers in the company of authoritarian regimes that execute people in violation of international standards. United in opposing the death penalty and demanding its repeal in India,” they pledged to “work for the abolition of the death penalty” in their domains of action and influence. 

Economist Amartya Sen, in a separate personal statement, wrote: “Since I have been committed to the abolition of the death penalty throughout my life, I am very happy to add my voice to those of others who want the repeal of this terrible legal provision.”

Besides other objectionable aspects of the death penalty, “any attempt to remedy the harm done by the taking of one life through taking another life encourages bad — indeed dangerous — moral reasoning. The approach of death penalty is foundationally misconceived,” wrote Dr. Sen.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 11:42:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/writers-economists-actors-stand-united-against-death-penalty/article6580605.ece

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