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Outgoing CJI all for capital punishment
November 01, 2005 18:41 IST
Outgoing Chief Justice of India R C Lahoti Tuesday strongly supported the retention of death penalty in the statute and said perpetrators of bomb blasts like the one that rocked the capital deserve capital punishment.
"Which other penalty is required other than this (death penalty) for this dastardly act. What other punishment is called for? Ask the man who has masterminded this blast," Justice Lahoti, who retires as CJI Tuesday, told reporters.
The chief justice's view assumes significance in the context of the recent debate on the issue of death penalty over which President A P J Abdul Kalam has suggested to the government to take an "humanitarian view" on mercy petitions.
Justice Lahoti said though in recent time a debate has been initiated world-wide against the capital punishment, keeping in view his judicial experience, he personally was of the opinion that it should continue in the Indian Penal Code.
The apex court, in its judgements, have made it clear that it should only be awarded in the rarest of the rare cases.
"Speaking for myself, I think that death penalty must continue to exist," he said adding, "We cannot go by what is happening in the Western countries."
The chief justice was responding to a view that a debate has gained momentum after President A P J Kalam's suggestion that in cases of death sentence and mercy petition, humanitarian aspects should be considered.
Explaining that while awarding death penalty, facts of the cases are examined carefully, Justice Lahoti referred to the Saturday blasts and said what other punishment should be inflicted on those "who terrorise the country by taking lives of innocent citizens".
"How many innocent people have been killed and injured. Now if the police investigates and are able to lay hand on the persons and mastermind behind the blast, please tell me what other penalty is required except the death penalty," he added.
"What happens is that we forget the past. Human memory fails. We forget the victims and we only see the accused before us we look at his family. We forget the families of those killed, injured and totally uprooted. I am told of a family whose only surviving member is a small child," the chief justice said.
"People say that in the death penalty you cannot give the life back. Ask this man, who is the mastermind behind this blast, can he give the life back of those killed? We forget thousands of those killed and think of only one person," Justice Lahoti said.
He disagreed with the view that only the poor become the victim of the death penalty and the rich get away.
"I do not agree with it at all," he said adding, "We only see the facts of the case and modus operandi while deciding the quantum of punishment."
However, the ougoing CJI said whether to continue with the death sentence or not was subject for sociologists, criminologists and social reformers to think of.
"They must think and decide it," he said adding, "Death penalty has been there in one form or the other since civilisation."
Asked on the mode of execution in death penalty, Justice Lahoti said the method should be such in which there is minimum pain.
"Better alternative should always be looked into," he said.