A vital debate rages

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Aug 3, 2015, 10:12 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 8:11 am IST
Cry to do away with hangings by the state as the ultimate symbol of temporal justice
A latest photo of Yakub Memon (Photo: IGNOU)
 A latest photo of Yakub Memon (Photo: IGNOU)

Marked on one side by anger against terrorism and the deterrence value of capital punishment and on the other by the need for clemency in dealing with those behind grave crimes, the death penalty debate rages fiercely following Yakub Memon’s execution. While there is no reason to believe his case wasn’t heard at the highest levels, the real point is whether India should go on handing out capital punishment. It is also undeniable that terrorism is the greatest threat facing modern societies.

The greatest difficulty is in separating the moral from the legal as terror plotters are as culpable as those who pull the trigger. The arguments are further complicated given that there is little equity in the way various terror cases have been tackled by the authorities, that include the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the Mumbai blasts that killed hundreds after the Babri Masjid demolition, and the Gujarat riots where thousands died, that followed the Godhra killings.

 

The cry to do away with hangings by the state as the ultimate symbol of temporal justice even in the “rarest of rare” cases must be analysed objectively. As a nation whose path was laid down by an apostle of non-violence, it would be a valid argument in itself to abolish the death penalty and treat jail for life as the highest punishment for the most serious crimes, such as those who take lives or wage war against the nation.

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