As the high court has finally delivered its verdict in Nirbhaya Rape case, according to the directives of which, four of the convicts will be sent to the gallows on 22nd January, 7am in the morning. With the pronouncement of the verdict, once again the debate about capital punishment has drawn the attention of the think tank of the nation. Undoubtedly, raping an innocent girl was one of the most brutal acts perpetrated by the morbid men but the most pertinent question arises whether the death sentence to the culprits of such heinous crimes will act as a deterrent? Will the number of crimes against women of our society drop down?
In response to this, we do not need to gather the statistics outside from any other country. Till date the death sentence exists in the Indian Penal code. It is a very much the part of our judicial system, against which the voices have been raised several times by many human right activists. After India attained her freedom from the subjugation of the Britishers in 1947, several criminals have been awarded capital punishment and many are lodged in Indian jails on death rows. But the crime graph in our country, particularly against women, has rather gone many notches higher despite the existence of executions in the book of law.
It will not be erroneous to state the very notion of capital punishment is entirely against the concept of reformative justice. Indian Justice system stands on the pyramid of not retributive, but reformative justice, as the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi himself stated that we should hate the sin but not the sinner. There is no denying the fact that capital punishment is simply the outcome of retributive justice system which advocates an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Those who support the idea of killing the culprit often forget the fact that they are exactly doing the same as was done by the heinous criminals. Factually speaking, sending someone to gallows is an act of state-sponsored killing which is entirely antithetical to the notion of reformative justice.
Here, we can not also refute the fact that are several lucanas in Indian legal system. What if an innocent is inadvertently convicted and thereon noose of death is tightened around his neck. If one innocent life is lost due to any lapse in the procedure of the law, under such circumstances, the entire purpose of delivering justice will be defeated and subverted. When in a country like India where the maxim of “might is right” rules the roost and the rich and privileged class have been calling the shots, it has also been observed the if the offender is a man of mighty means and retains clout and political influence, he can easily hoodwink our faulty legal system and go scot-free.
Though there is no intention to be sympathetic towards the brutal rapists of Nirbhaya, the fact can not be controverted that their downtrodden social status has also pushed them to the scaffold. Had there been the sons of some powerful political leaders in place of these four men from the lower strata of our society, would they too have recieved the same sentence? In the Indian context, the answer is in absolute negation.
There are several intellectuals and the representatives of big NGOs that have been protesting for the abolition of the capital punishment from all across the globe, It does not mean that they are all in the favour of perpetuating crimes. They, in fact, understand that state-sponsored killings is not a remedy against the rising number of crimes in our country. It can not be negated that languishing in jail for the whole life under rigorous conditions is much harder a punishment than snuffing out life, which merely involves a painful process of a few minutes only. Undoubtedly India is a civilised society which believes in fair justice, which has the objective of reforming an individual if he has the slightest scope of it. Therefore hanging someone to death does not offer any solution. In sooth, it aggravates the situation. That is why philosophers like Albert Camus and Aristotle had stood steadfast against capital punishment.