Tag Archives: Afzal Guru

The colonial legacy of capital punishment

G Mohan Gopal writes:

The British and their collaborators had made a similar mistake. They thought that the common people of India would be deterred and cowed down by the violence of the state. A young scholar from Columbia recently shared with me data collected from the National Archives showing that the British were hanging on average three people daily in the 1920s in a desperate bid to frighten Indians into obeying British rule. We know how that ended. The government should know how this will end too. [Frontline]

And Fahad Shah meets Maqbool Butt’s mother:

“Both Maqbool sahib and Guru sahib were innocent and on the right path. India thinks that this freedom movement will stop but it won’t stop. It will continue. There are so many Maqbools in Kashmir” [The Kashmir Walla]


Why India Needs the Death Penalty


So, The Law has been taking its Own Course, without any help from the political bankruptcy of the Kangress party. The Law took its Own Course and hanged Ajmal Kasab before a Parliament session and co-incidentally Afzal Guru before another Parliament session. The Law’s Own Course is stranger than the river Kosi which changes direction at will (actually, even the Kosi river changes directions because of corruption in the unnecessary embankments the Bihar government builds). Continue reading Why India Needs the Death Penalty

Punishment by Procedure: Saurav Datta

Guest post by SAURAV DATTA

“An advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes to his client, knows in the discharge of that office but one person in the world- the client, and no other…to protect that client at all hazards and costs to all others, and among others to himself, is the highest and most unquestioned of his duties…..Nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, and casting them if need be to the wind, he must go on reckless of the consequences…” – Lord Brougham, “Law and Other Things”, Cambridge University Press (1937)

“Beneath this face that appears so impassive hell’s tides continually run.” – Walt Whitman,“You Felons on Trial in Courts”

“Nothing rankles more in the human heart than a brooding sense of injustice.” Justice Brennan’s words keep on ringing in my ears when I see the manifestly violent injustice meted out to Mohammad Afzal- the Courts tore to smithereens his inalienable right to a fair trial. The Parliament attack case was the first litigation I had been part of – I was a student intern in the chambers of Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, who was briefing Mr. Ram Jethmalani. I got to see and understand the case from the closest of quarters, and that maybe that exacerbates my indignation at this egregious miscarriage of justice. Continue reading Punishment by Procedure: Saurav Datta

Capital Punishment – An Agenda for Abolition: Yug Mohit Chaudhry

This is (a slightly modified) text of the second Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture, delivered at the Indian Law Institute on 9 February 2013 by advocate YUG MOHIT CHAUDHRY. The lecture and its topic had been scheduled days in advance, but co-incidentally, Mohd. Afzal Guru was hanged in the morning of the day of the lecture. The Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture has been instituted by his friends, comrades and students, who want to keep alive the memory of his inspiring work. Advocate was shot dead in his office on 11 February 2010, at the age of 32. At the time of his murder, Shahid was fighting several terrorism cases, including of those falsely accused in the Malegaon blasts and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.You can read tributes to Shahid Azmi in Kafila archives by Mahtab Alam, Arvind Narrain and Saumya Una, and Susan Abraham.

In Furman v. Georgia (1972), where the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, Justice Marshall said that if citizens were fully informed about how people are sentenced to death, they would find capital punishment shocking, unjust and unacceptable. However, research on the death penalty and public awareness of the exact nature of the death penalty have been the most neglected areas in the abolition campaign in India. The last three challenges to the constitutionality of the death penalty in India were rejected by the Supreme Court, inter alia, on the grounds that there is no empirical data to support the abolitionists’ claims. Unfortunately, the situation has not changed at all, and even now there is hardly any research on this subject. Therefore, the highest priority in any abolition campaign is to produce empirical research on the death penalty. That, and doing our utmost to stop each proposed execution and, failing that, to make it as difficult as possible for the state to carry out an execution, adopting all legal, political and social means at our disposal.   Continue reading Capital Punishment – An Agenda for Abolition: Yug Mohit Chaudhry

On bloodlust: notes towards four imminent executions: Rijul Kochhar

Guest post by RIJUL KOCHHAR

[This June 19, 1993 photo shows Veerapan aides Simon (front row, second from left) and Madaiah (fourth from left) among other landmine blast accused. Courtesy The Hindu/PTI.]
[This June 19, 1993 photo shows Veerapan aides Simon (front row, second from left) and Madaiah (fourth from left) among other landmine blast accused. Courtesy The Hindu/PTI.]

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

~A.E. Housman

ज़िन्दगी और मौत ऊपर वाले के हाथ हैं जहापनाह, उसे ना आप बदल सकते हैं न मैं, हम सब तोह रंग-मंच की कठपुतलियाँ हैं, िजनकी डोर उपरवाले की उँगलियों मे बंधी हैं: कब, कौन, कैसे उठेगा, कोई नहीं बता सकता.

~Anand (1971)

I write in an evening shrouded in anticipation, but it is an anticipation of death.

Continue reading On bloodlust: notes towards four imminent executions: Rijul Kochhar

‘Death penalty in India is a legal lottery’

Justice Ajit Shah says that it has been proven beyond doubt that death sentence does not serve as a deterrent against crime; the reason why two third of the world has abolished it all together. He explains the bizarre nature of how the death sentence in India is judge centric and how under the same set of circumstances, some have received the death sentence, while others have been given life and still others acquitted. Death sentence is judge centric with many judges having a history of doling out death penalties and other being kind. Death sentence is thus nothing but a ‘legal lottery’ where if you are lucky you get a lenient judge you survive, else you end up at the gallows. He talks about the caste and class connection to death sentence, where the lower castes and lower classes are usually the ones sent to the gallows because they cannot afford proper legal aid. He says that this discriminatory nature renders death penalty unconstitutional and that there is the need for a larger debate on the same.  Continue reading ‘Death penalty in India is a legal lottery’