Says only good would result if the President were to appoint a high-level Commission to examine the utility of death sentence as a deterrent and its validity as a punishment as distinct from revenge
“Rather than look at the death sentence the presence of which has avenged the Parliament House attack and 26/11, I think we should look at it as something the absence of which would have given Bhagat Singh to a grateful India till well beyond 1947.
“An irrational but not responsible thought tells me that had Shaheed Bhagat Singh not been snatched from us by the noose, this Maulana Azad memorial lecture could well have been given today in Lahore with you Dr Karan Singh in the chair,” he said.
Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, was giving the lecture on “Last Words As Those at Death’s Door Speak” organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
He said, only good would result if the President of India were to appoint a truly high-level Commission comprising former justices and eminent personages from outside the law to examine with reference to the world trends the utility of
death sentence as a deterrent and its validity as a punishment as distinct from revenge.
“Last words of those who were hanged could be the first words for such a Commission to study,” he said. Peppered with references to personalities spanning ages and historical periods, Gandhi, with the help of a slide projector displaying pictures and photographers, spoke about the dying words of personalities ranging former US President Robert Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstien and Laurel of the Laurel and Hardy comedian fame, Sarojini Naidu and Mohammed Ali Jinnah among others. “States executing people for individual crimes can, with a little twist, execute people with intentions that go beyond the ends of criminal justice,” Gandhi said.
The Indian scaffold lies on the parapet of the Executive and the Judiciary, said Gandhi who pointed out that the President can address the appeal for clemency aided and advised by the Council of Ministers. “The Indian state is an enlightened state but principles are based on theory not incumbency, tendency or contingency,” he said.
Gandhi said he regarded the death sentence to be barbaric but “as long as it on our stature book, it is lawful.” He said death sentence was generally viewed not as an example to dread but to given a high dose of primitive revenge and vendatta very often to satisfy not the ends of justice as much as a orgasm of spite.
“I have no illusions about the diabolical nature of violent deeds committed with criminal intent. Their perpetrators are, as individuals, loathesome people, as deserving of contempt as of revulsion.
“But to compete with murder by matching it in kind is to pursue a mindless computer game like thrill with rewind and forward buttons,” Gandhi said.