IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 23rd September, 2015
Capital punishment : should it be banned or allowed in India?
Capital punishment,death penaltyorexecutionis punishment by death. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences.
Capital punishment is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states.
At the backdrop of hanging Yakub Memon , whether capital punishment should be banned or not , has become a topic of public debate in India.
Capital punishment in India : A statistical look
According to a report of theLaw Commission of India(1967), the total number of cases in which the sentence of death in India was executed from 1953 to 1963 was 1,410.
According to National Crime Record Bureau prison statistics report between 2004 and 2013, 1,303 capital-punishment verdicts have been delivered. However, only three convicts were executed over this period, one each in West Bengal (2004), Maharashtra (2012) and Delhi (2013). India saw an execution-free period of seven years between 2004 and 2012.
In addition, 3,751 death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment during this period between 2004 to 2012.
On 14 August 2004, Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged at Alipore Central Jail in West Bengal on his 42nd birthday, convicted for the rape and murder of a teenage girl.
On 21 November 2012, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab the only terrorist to have survivedthe 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was hanged in Pune’s Yerwada Jail.
On 9 Februrary 2013, Mohammed Afzal Guru, a convict in the 2001 Parliament attack case was hanged inside Delhi’s Tihar jail.
On 30 july 2015, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon , a convict in 1993 mumbai bomb blasts was hanged.
Current status with regards to capital punishment in India:
The Constitution Bench judgment ofSupreme Court of India in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980) made it very clear that Capital punishment in India can be given only in rarest of rare cases.
Laws regarding capital punishment:
Section 120B of IPC – Being a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit a capital offense.
Section 302, 303 of IPC – relating murder.
Section 305 of IPC – Abetting the suicide of a minor, mentally ill person, or intoxicated person.
Section 364A of IPC – Kidnapping, in the course of which the victim was held for ransom or other coercive purposes.
Section 31A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act -Drug trafficking in cases of repeat offenses .
Section 396 of IPC – Banditry with murder – in cases where a group of five or more individuals commit banditry and one of them commits murder in the course of that crime, all members of the group are liable for the death penalty.
Section 376A of IPC and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 – Rape, if the perpetrator inflicts injuries that result in the victim’s death or incapacitation in a persistent vegetative state, or is a repeat offender.
Arguments for abolition of death penalty in India:
The death penalty is incompatible with human rights and human dignity: The death penalty violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights. It also violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the death penalty undermines human dignity which is inherent to every human being.
The death penalty does not deter crime effectively: The death penalty lacks the deterrent effect which is commonly referred to by its advocates. As recently stated by the General Assembly of the United Nations, “there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty” .It is noteworthy that in many retentionist states, the effectiveness of the death penalty in order to prevent crime is being seriously questioned by a continuously increasing number of law enforcement professionals.
The arbitrary application of the death penalty can never be ruled out: The death penalty is often used in a disproportional manner against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic, political and religious groups.
Capital punishment scenario in different parts of the world:
Among 198 united nations countries , 106 countries have completely abolished it for all crimes , 6 have abolished it for ordinary crimes only , 50 have not used it for last ten years and 36 countries are actively practicing capital punishment.
Nearly all countries in the world prohibit the execution of individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes; since 2009, only Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan have carried out such executions. Executions of this kind are prohibited under international law.
In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolutiontowards the abolition of capital punishment and the protection of human rights when it endorsed a call for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.(India did not agree with the resolution).
Democracy in India is evolving over the years. For a country like India with still divisive forces acting , continuation of death penalty is the need of the hour. However as time progress, Indian democracy and judiciary will evolve to eliminate death penalty in this country.
Connecting the dots:
With more than 150 countries abolishing death penalty , is there a stressing demand in India to abolish death penalty. Critically analyse
A New Tahrir Moment?
The angers of sectarianism threaten to tear apart West Asia, massive challenges on a civic basis occurred in Baghdad and Beirut. In both the cities, the masses rose up out of disappointment over an absence of essential administrations, basic services and wide spread corruption. Amid the hot summer, power cut paralyzed Baghdad and garbage piled up in streets of Beirut. In both Iraq and Lebanon, pioneers of different sectarian groups lived agreeable lives in their gated zones. The gap between their luxurious presence and the privations suffered by normal individuals sent millions of Iraqis and Lebanese onto the streets.
The lack of civic services is a serious problem across West Asia. Also, sectarian corruption is deep rooted in the system and cannot be dislodged easily.
Arab nationalism of the 1950s and 1960s attempted to overcome social partitions and unite individuals around the thought of the Arab. It was a capable device that held influence for no less than an era. In any case, Arab nationalismthreatened Saudi thoughts of Islamic sovereignty, which was itself imperiled by the Islamic republicanism of Iran.
These geopolitical tangles offered essentialness to sectarian tensions, which had been generally knocked down by Arab nationalism.
Strains in the middle of Iran and Saudi Arabia are reflected in the ascent of IS, whose scorn is much keener against the Shia than against the West.
No big surprise then that Saudi Arabia’s present war against Yemen — which started in late March — proceeds unfaltering, completely stacked with sectarian venom and U.S.- supplied weaponry.
There is no discussion of ceasefire there, regardless of the UN’s request that the nation is now a humanitarian catastrophe.
Sectarian geopolitics powers the Saudi planes in Yemen, as it likewise flames Riyadh’s hatred to a peace settlement for Syria. Better, for the Saudis, to drag the Arab world seeping through the ashes of its capitals than to figure out how to dial down the sectarianism.
To find out of the volatility in Iraq
US occupation had earlier banned Ba’ath Party, then leadership of Dawa Party saw world through lens of sect and revenge.
Ba’ath party allowed Dawa and its allies to dominate Iraq’s politics, which is now marked by sectarianism, thanks to the U.S.-foisted constitution of 2005.
Old histories of animosity between the Dawa and the Ba’ath are not easy to overcome.
The protestors in Baghdad are too suspicious of their government
The Militarists’ Alternative:
Mass demonstrations provide an alternative path out of poor administration by sectarians, then older form of authorities also provide another roadmap.
Sisi, a man of Egypt’smilitary has sympathetic ties with Syria and also ‘Assad ally’ are ‘anti-IS coaltion’.
These two are drawn together as they are antipathetic to al-Qaeda and IS.
This is the soldiers’ alternative to sectarianism.
It registered hope against sectarianism and war. Today, in West Asia, this is a radical idea.
Connecting the dots:
What is the way forward to overcome the deadlock situation between masses and Government with reference to poor administration and absence of civic services in West Asian countries?