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Can we Justify Death Penalty?

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

The Nirbhaya rape case gained recognition due to the brutality the 23-year-old victim suffered at the hands of six assailants. (Trigger Warning: Rape) She was allegedly raped with the help of a rusted iron rod which was used for penetration. One of the accused claimed that he saw his fellow assailant remove a rope-like object from the victim’s body, which is presumed to be her intestine.

Does this deserve a death penalty, a life sentence or is rehabilitation possible?

Death Penalty is a Government sanctioned execution of an offender convicted by the court of law for any crime considered a capital offence by the Constitution of India.

“Crimes punishable by death in India include aggravated murder, other offences resulting in death, terrorism-related crimes resulting in death, terrorism-related cases not resulting in death, rape resulting in death, kidnapping wherein ransom is asked for, drug trafficking not resulting in death, treason, espionage and military offences not resulting in death.” (Taran Deol, The Print, 2020)

The purpose of the Death Penalty is to instil fear in people, to ensure that the crime rate reduces. Statistically, very rare cases are at the receiving end of capital punishment. Most notorious criminals end up with a life sentence.

In the 2000s, India has seen five instances of criminals being hanged for their crimes. The most recent are the four rapists from the Nirbhaya Rape Case. Prior to that Yakub Memon was hanged for his involvement in the 1993 Bombay blasts. In 2013, Muhammad Afzal Guru met the same fate due to his involvement in the attack on the parliament in 2001. Ajmal Kasab, the infamous militant from the 2008 Bombay attack was hanged in 2012 and lastly, in 2008 Dhanonjoy Chatterjee was punished the same way for raping and killing a 14-year-old-girl.

Each of these men has an individual story of what wrong he has done and how some of them have been wronged by the justice system as well.

Did all of them deserve death or was it the easy way out? Does aiding in taking someone’s right to live to make you lose yours?

Some people say that every person deserves to live and that death penalty is only a temporary solution. The real change arrives through counselling the inmates and making an attempt to psychologically dilute the the desire to commit a crime within the citizens of the country, while understanding that it is a long drawn process, they believe that it will eventually lead to the betterment of the nation.Some religious people preach the idea of forgiveness and peace. On the other hand those in favour of capital punishment say that it gives closure to the victims families, who have suffered great loss and that their pain should not be ignored. However capital punishments should be done only when trials are absolutely ethical, moreover the punishment should be received in direct proportion to the severity of the crime committed.

NI (F,18) said “There was a time when I believed in capital punishment but basic statistics have shown that it has not helped reduce crime rates. After the 2012 Nirbhaya case, have the harassment and rape cases in India reduced? The whole point of capital punishment is gone if it has no impact on crime rates.

As a future taxpayer, I don’t mind my money being used for these criminals to rot in jail. Excluding the part where its inhumane to take someone else’s life, the Death Penalty is the easy way out, the Nirbhaya rapists got off easy. Jail time makes people realise the error in their ways.”

In support of capital punishment, SI (M,18) says “We’re evolved beings, who have the ability to think about and analyse our behaviour at all levels. Any human who violates another human’s freedom in heinous ways does deserve the death penalty, but only after a fair trial is held. An unbiased decision should be made and the perpetrators should be held responsible. Let’s take the case of serial killers; they’ve violated countless individual’s freedom to live. The ones who have actual cerebral problems should be sent to hospitals and should be treated, but any person who intentionally commits a crime deserves such punishment. Unless the guilty have actual developmental and other intellectual deformities and they don’t have a choice, they deserve capital punishment.”

Keeping in mind the physical and mental duress which being in prison can cause to a person, is life imprisonment well deserved or is it, in fact, more inhumane than a death penalty? Do you think criminals should get an equal and opposite punishment with respect to their crimes or is there a scope for rehabilitation even in the strongest mindsets?

Let the controversy begin.

*Disclaimer: The picture does not belong to me, it was acquired from Google Images.

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Aug 09, 2020

Should the death penalty be abolished, the investment required to rehabilitate a hardcore criminal or a serial killer back into the society would be phenomenal not only in terms of trained professionals but also institutions that specialise in the process. Should that be done, can we be sure that even after decades of 'rehabilitation' the convict will definitely not go back to his 'old ways'?

If we have the answer then abolishing death penalty is just a matter of completing a process.

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