Death penalty for rapists?

Posted: December 19, 2012 in Delhi rape case
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In the heat of the moment to scream out “DEATH FOR RAPISTS” is easy and convenient. Should the six men, involved in the brutalisation of the Delhi girl be sent to the gallows? Delhi’s best doctors have been unable to put her internal organs back together again, so badly mangled are they by the rape and the beatings she received. They say, if she survives it would indeed be a miracle.

Reactions have been on expected lines – with the public and the politicians all calling for the rapists to be sent to the gallows. There have been command performances by politicians in Parliament all demanding death to the rapists. By all accounts, this was a crime so heinous that it deserves nothing but the death penalty.

However, it is one thing to pronounce such a judgement and an entirely different thing, to actually to carry it out till the gallows. I am pretty sure, that politicians, who are playing on public sentiment and clamouring for capital punishment, will be the first to object when it comes to tabling of such a Bill. In fact, they will bring in a slew of objections.

These are a few:

  1. That it could be misused by their political rivals to finish their political careers
  2. That it could be misused by women wishing to get even for all sorts of reasons.
  3. That there are enough cases of men being convicted and languishing in jail for crimes they did not commit.

A more sinister reason for their objection could also be that most of the people who commit such crimes are on the payroll of the politicians, which is why they walk away from the crime scene with impunity, secure in the knowledge that are protected.

It is not as if rapists have not been hanged before or have not been sentenced to death for the crime. Dhananjay Chatterjee, the watchman in Kolkata who raped a 14 year-old schoolgirl Hetal Parekh sometime in 1990 was sent to the gallows in 2004, but even there many people believed that hanging was not the solution.

On March 13, 2012, a Sirsa court sentenced to death, a 22-year-old for raping a 75-year-old woman. He first raped her then gagged her with a shawl, and strangled her with her salwar on February 11, 2011.

The Bombay High Court in September this year confirmed the death sentences for Pune call centre cab driver Purshottam Borate and his friend Pradip Kokate for raping and then murdering a BPO employee in Pune, in 2007.

But, there have also been cases where rapists sentenced to death have had their sentences commuted either by the Supreme Court or by a presidential pardon, one, as recently as last week. There have been at least five cases in recent memory where child rapists convicted to death were given a presidential pardon and had their sentences commuted to life. This was just before President Pratibha Patil demitted office.

The legal system also ensures the right of appeal, and convicts have been given lesser sentences. As recently, as last week Pune’s Sainath Abhang had his death sentence commuted to life for a murder and rape. He had, on September 10, 2007, entered a woman’s house in Pune and had killed her. After that he turned on her pregnant daughter-in-law and raped her. The court after going through all the evidence, including the statement of the injured lady, who said the convict was drunk, granted him relief.

The fact is that our laws are archaic and however well our judges interpret them and pronounce judgement there will always lawyers who will find some loophole. The point is, there is already a law that determines capital punishment to those who commit rape if it comes under the rarest of rare cases. So, instead of spending another fifty years trying to reform the legal system, why not just do away with the system of presidential pardons for those who are sentenced to death for rape? Rape is violent and there are no two descriptions of it, so there should be one punishment – death. However, while giving a convict the right to appeal against the judgement if he believes he has been wrongly convicted, his appeals should go no further than the Supreme Court. If it’s a water-tight case then where is the need for a presidential pardon?

Also, I am getting very tired of people who make everything personal. I tweet about things happening around us to get a healthy debate going and very often to provoke in fun. Unfortunately, I find people use my updates to jerk off on anything and everything under the sun, which has very little to do with the subject at hand. They forcibly point it in the direction they want the topic to go!

Like this whole Narendra Modi or Bal Thackeray thing. Frankly, I don’t give a shit about them or their policies or whether they did or didn’t engineer riots in Gujarat and Maharashtra, respectively. The thing is these events are history. There are many who would label Rajiv Gandhi and Indira as ‘killers’. Ask the Sikhs. But they are history. Feel free to carry on with your personal agenda, just keep me out of it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I feel sorry for people, who think it’s fashionable to disagree with anything and everything anyone says – unless of course, they have been personally affected, and worse drag a topic into a totally irrelevant direction. Just keep me out of it.

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