Guest Post by Sharib Ali
With a finality that only history possesses, Yakub Abdul Razak Menon, an accused in the Bombay blast case, has transformed for many over the last few days, including me, into just Yakub. His name pronounced with a deep felt sadness that has come to characterize so many of our days. Days leading to terrible, terrible nights.
It is indeed sad, when a criminal -a sauve 20 year old looking for a way out- is, in death, turned into a rallying symbol of injustice. Flowing white beard, and a bloated body, suddenly turned around into an idea draped in flowers, garlanded, and marched on the shoulders of thousands of men through narrow streets- in complete silence. There were whispers, though, in the sweltering heat of bodies. But the pact was made. There would be no sloganeering. The state was there- to keep peace, no less. And it did what it does best: lined the streets with policemen. The policemen were out there defending a strange paradox: That it is right to kill to punish those who kill, so that others are deterred from killing. Stithi niyantran mein hai, still, they said. The rest, were silent.
Continue reading The State Playing God and Magician – Thoughts after Yakub Memon’s Death: Sharib Ali
Guest Post by N. Jayaram
After the order in the case of film star Salman Khan over a 2002 hit-and-run case was delivered by Sessions Court Judge D.W. Deshpande on Wednesday, 6 May 2015, there understandably were divided opinions on whether he deserved to be handed five years in jail.
But the rather more shockingly breath-taking comments from some of his friends in the industry and his fans were to do with pavement dwellers, such as the victim Nurullah Mahboob Sharif.
“Kutta rd pe soyega kutte ki maut marega, roads garib ke baap ki nahi hai (If a dog sleeps on the road, he’ll die a dog’s death. Roads are not poor people’s property)…,” singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya tweeted. “Roads are meant for cars and dogs not for people sleeping on them…,” he said, appealing to the film industry to back the star, whose sentence has now been suspended by the High Court.
Designer Farah Khan Ali chipped in with this: “No one should be sleeping on the road or footpath. It is dangerous to do that just like it is dangerous to cross tracks.” She quite rightly laid the blame on the state: “The govt should be responsible for housing ppl. If no1 was sleeping on d road in any other country Salman wuld not have driven over anybody.”
Perhaps she had read the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party. Article 11.1 of the Covenant says: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right…” Continue reading Bombay Pavement Dwellers and Olga Tellis – A Quiet Verdict in Ahmedabad: N. Jayaram
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL lists some reasons why death penalty should be abolished in India:
Inconsistency: Three people, Harban, Kashmira and Jeeta were sentenced to death for a crime in which they played similar roles. But they met different fates. Kashmira Singh’s petition to the Supreme Court was accepted and his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Harbans Singh was recommended by the court for clemency from the President. Jeeta Singh’s petition was dismissed and he was hanged.
Flaws: In August 2012, 14 retired judges wrote to the President of India, pointing out that the Supreme Court had wrongly awarded the death sentence to 13 people. They called the execution of two wrongly sentenced prisoners in 1996 and 1997, “the gravest known miscarriage of justice in the history of crime and punishment in independent India”.
Bias: “I thought I should get all these (capital punishment) cases examined from a normal citizen’s point of view in terms of the crime, intensity of the crime and the social and financial status of the individuals who were convicted and awarded capital punishment. This study revealed to my surprise that almost all the cases which were pending had a social and economic bias.” APJ Abdul Kalam.
To sign their petition to the Prime Minister of India, go here.
Press statement put out by the PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS on 12 April 2013.
PUDR strongly denounces the Supreme Court’s dismissal this morning of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea for commutation of the death sentence awarded to him to life. The issues at stake in this dismissal are multiple, that of clemency, death penalty, miscarriage of justice and precedence.
Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2003 for carrying out a bomb blast outside the Delhi Youth Congress office which killed nine people in 1993. He has been deemed mentally unstable. The High Court’s decision of upholding the death sentence was not a unanimous decision. After he was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court, he appealed to the then President of India for clemency in 2003. The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea in 2011. Bhullar had sought commutation of his death penalty to life sentence by the Supreme Court on the ground that there was inordinate delay by the President over his plea for clemency. Continue reading On the Supreme Court of India’s rejection of the mercy plea of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar: PUDR
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]
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
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