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The Rediff Special/Debate: Capital punishment
'Capital punishment acts as a deterrent'
July 12, 2004
In January 1994, the Calcutta high court sentenced Dhananjay Chatterjee to be hanged until death for raping and then murdering teenager Hetal Parekh on March 5, 1990 in a flat in Kolkata's Bhawanipur area. The Supreme Court later confirmed the sentence.
Ten years after the order was passed, he was to be hanged at Alipur Central Jail in Kolkata on Friday, June 25, over the objections of human rights groups and prominent personalities who oppose capital punishment.
Now, friends, relatives, even some jail inmates have petitioned President A P J Abdul Kalam pleading that Chatterjee's death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment. On the other hand, Hetal's family and well-wishers are adamant that he be hanged.
rediff.com presents the arguments for and against capital punishment.
Senior Supreme Court advocate Ashok Arora is in favour of capital punishment:
The death sentence acts as a deterrent. It is normally awarded in the rarest of rare cases by trial courts and is subsequently confirmed by the high court and the Supreme Court.
You cannot brush aside the death sentence on the premises that the State cannot take life. The State sometimes has to take action considering the sentiments of the society at large and the nature of the crime to instil a sense of confidence amongst the people.
Consider cases where the severity of the crime evokes a public outcry. A death sentence helps bring about a balance between the crime and the sentiments of the people.
I also support the death sentence for those crimes that are horrendous, particularly terrorism-related ones where people are killed with the aim of spreading terror.
I agree the death sentence does not deter terrorists since they are out to get killed anyway but there is no harm in hanging them for the benefit of society.
A few weeks back, terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir blew up a bus that was carrying jawans and families of paramilitary personnel. If you do not hand down death sentence in such cases then in which ones would you do so?
Ashok Arora spoke to Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Also Read: Senior Supreme Court advocate Kamini Jaiswal does not support capital punishment