Thursday 23 October 2014

The Death Penalty

Many persons want abolition of the death penalty. While I agree that ordinarily the death penalty should not be imposed, I am of the view that in exceptional case it should be awarded.

Our society is in transition from feudal society to a modern industrial one. Whatever helps in this advance should be supported, while whatever obstructs it it should be opposed.

 For example, 'honour killing' is a barbaric,feudal practice, and so must be stamped out, and to do that terror must be created in the minds of those who indulge in it by awarding death penalty in such cases. I said this in a judgment I gave in the Supreme Court, Bhagwan Das vs. State ( NCT ) of Delhi, 2001.

 Similarly, dowry death,  fake encounter killing by the cops, serial killing ,and particulary gruesome murders should be awarded death penalty.

 I am not a blood thirsty person. But I agree with Bheeshma Pitamah in his upadesh to Yudhishthir after the Mahabharata war in the Shantiparva.
 Bheeshma Pitamah told Yudhishthir :
" O Yudhishthir, I know that you are merciful and forgiving by nature, but the government cannot be conducted in this manner. You must sometimes be firm, and award punishment in appropriate cases "


  1. Yes indeed firmness is required in statecraft. But tell me which State in modern times and ancient can show that capital punishment had actually served as deterrence.

  2. An unanswerable question, therefore logically unhelpful, as one can never prove that an unfulfilled intention existed. But some would say that there are many ancient and modern states in which capital punishment served a useful end.
    Having said that, let me state that I am actually an opponent of capital punishment. I think that life imprisonment, in solitary confinement, without any possibility of parole (except when new evidence proves wrongful conviction) is preferable. It stops society / govt playing God. The retribution of life imprisonment is arguably worse than death. (Ask Gary Gilmore & others.) It allows for exoneration of those wrongfully sentenced (see Innocence Project, USA).