Ummid Assistant

Jamia Millia launches courses on China, Afghanistan

IGNOU launches value education programme for teachers

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home Views & Analysis

Death sentence is judicial murder, says judge in Rajiv killing

Sunday October 16, 2011 01:05:40 PM, George Joseph, IANS

Related Article

Politics of death sentences in India

Prima facie, it is not easy to refute Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's argument that if the Tamil Nadu and Punjab legislatures can ask for the pardon of Rajiv Gandhi's killers and Khalistani terrorist Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, why should those Kashmiris be pilloried who want a similar reprieve for Afzal Guru, the terrorist   

New Delhi: Death sentence is judicial murder, says former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas, who headed the bench that pronounced death punishment to three conspirators in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

"Death sentence is no punishment," Thomas, 74, told IANS in an interview over the phone from Kottayam in Kerala. "It is a judicial murder committed with the protection of the society."

According to Thomas, world opinion is turning against the death penalty with more and more countries abolishing it.

"In India too the debate is active among rights activists, judicial circles and civil society," Thomas said. "But ultimately, it is a political decision."

If he was against the death sentence, why did he agree to awarding death penalty to the three Rajiv killers -- Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan?

"Because I took oath to discharge my duties as per the Constitution and the prevailing laws," replied the former judge. "Whatever extreme may be my individual views, as a judge, I had to function as per the existing laws."

He said punishment had a three-fold objective: reformation, deterrence and retribution. The rule of retribution -- a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye -- is increasingly considered uncivilised.

"Then is the case of reformation. If a person is eliminated where is the opportunity for reformation?" he said.

Experience and studies have proved that death punishment have not worked for deterrence too, Thomas said.

He recalled the experience of erstwhile princely states of Cochin and Travancore where death penalty was abolished in 1940 but restored when they became part of the Indian republic in 1950.

Records show that there were a higher number of murders in the 1950s than in the 1940s when there was no capital punishment. "So the theory of deterrence is not valid in many places and periods", he said.

He said the simple test for death sentence was visualising our own children in the situation. "Our children commit mistakes and we want to reform them through punishments. But do we want to kill them?"

In 1999, the three-member supreme court bench comprising Thomas, Justice D.P. Wadwah and Justice S.S.M .Quadri had awarded death punishment to Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan's wife Nalini in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Thomas had dissented on death punishment to Nalini while the other two judges were for capital punishment for all four.

Nalini's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment as President Pratibha Patil accepted her mercy petition. The petition was recommended by Rajiv's wife and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

"I found Nalini was acting like a robot and did not know till the last hour that she was to kill Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on 21st May,1991." Thomas told IANS about his dissent.

If both Murugan and Nalini were to be killed their child would have been an "orphan made by law ", he added.

With the president rejecting the mercy petition of the trio, they were to be hanged Sept 8 this year. However, the Madras High Court Sept 1 stayed their execution for eight weeks. The Supreme Court will hear a plea to transfer the petition on Oct 19 .

"It was my misfortune to have presided over the bench which gave the death penalty to the four accused. But I had to discharge my duties," Thomas said about the 1999 verdict.

"The debate over the suitability and ethics of the death sentence is picking up in India," he said. The Supreme Court had deliberated the issue during the Bachan Singh case in 1983 and directed that death penalty should be awarded only in the 'rarest of the rare cases', he recalled.

Thomas, a practising Christian, had courted controversy recently when he said at a function in Kochi that the "smear campaign" that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was "baseless". RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was also present at the function.

An alumnus of the C.M.S. College, Kottayam, he has often criticized Christian educational institutions "indulging in commercial practises" and has suggested that minorities should give up the special rights given by the Constitution.
 


(George Joseph can be contacted at george.j@ians.in)
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookmark and Share

Home | Top of the Page

 

Comments

Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Comments powered by DISQUS

 

 

 

Top Stories

Yeddyurappa arrested for corruption, sent to jail

Yeddyurappa, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) first chief minister in south India, surrendered before a trial court in two cases of corruption  

Yeddyurappa: Clerk to chief minister to undertrial No.10462

BJP's 'gateway to south' turns into road to jail

Yeddyurappa will continue to spell trouble for BJP

Yeddyurappa resigns at last, amid high drama

 

  Most Read

Scores arrested as 'Occupy Wall Street' protests swell across America

Scores of protesters against corporate greed were arrested as the "Occupy Wall Street movement" movement swelled across America leaving police  

Disappointed, say Kashmiris to interlocutors' report

Meaningful autonomy, speedy development and a massive economic package...central interlocutors may have suggested all this as a balm for insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir, but common Kashmiris 

Kashmir interlocutors submit report, focus on development

 

  News Pick

Hundreds arrested as rail blockade begins in Telangana

Police arrested hundreds of leaders and activists of Telangana movement as a three-day rail blockade began in the region Saturday  

Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap deal to start Tuesday

A deal between Israel and Hamas on the exchange of over 1,000 jailed Palestinians for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will begin Tuesday.This was announced by a spokesman for the militant group Committees of People's Resistance 

Sayeed Khan among four from three Indian institutes to bag NASA award

Students of three Indian education institutions, which designed and launched their own satellites, have won a US space  

 

Picture of the Day

Girl students of a local school displaying the post cards posted to the AMU VC appealing him to speed up the process for the establishment of AMU centre in Malegaon

(Photo: ummid.com)

 

 
 
 
 
 

RSS  |  Contact us

 

| Quick links

News

 

Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant

 

National

Religion

RSS

Scholarships

About us

International

Culture

Twitter

Government Schemes

Feedback

Regional

History

Facebook

Education

Register

Politics

Opinion

Newsletter

Contact us

Business

Career

     

Education

     

 

 

Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

2010 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.