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Nirbhaya convicts hanging renews death penalty debate

Source: PTI
January 07, 2020 23:14 IST
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A Delhi court Tuesday ordered hanging of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case triggering debate whether death sentence deters heinous crimes.

While a section of experts hold a contrary view, there are those who favour the retention of capital punishment in the statute book.

Senior advocate Rebecca M John and advocate Avani Bansal were of the view that capital punishments have rarely acted as a deterrent and it was not a solution.

However, senior advocate Vikas Singh said death penalty should remain because it is a way of informing people that something so heinous would be retributed with the same treatment.


John said the need to make work places, streets and the society safe for women and that would eventually act as deterrents to rapes in the country.

"Capital punishments have rarely acted as a deterrent. What we need to do is to make our society, our workplaces, our streets safe for women," she said.

Bansal said that though it was important to punish criminals, death penalty was no solution.

"It is important to punish those who commit heinous crimes but it can never equal to the State taking away one's life. Because the State cannot take, what it cannot give," she added.

Singh, on the other hand, said: "You know that the gravity of this offence is so large, definitely it will have some deterrence on the prospective of criminals indulging in such kind of activities.

"So I think capital punishment should remain and it should be given in appropriate cases especially 'rarest of the rare' as has already been held by the Supreme Court and this (Nirbhaya gang rape) was definitely one such case which can be said to be rarest of rare where capital punishment can be imposed."

After the trial court's Tuesday order issuing death warrants of the convicts, Nirbhaya's mother Asha Devi, said, "the hanging of convicts will restore the faith of women in law".

Meanwhile, the lawyers said the four convicts, against whom death warrants have been issued by a trial court in Delhi, still have the option of filing curative pleas in the Supreme Court.

After exhausting the last legal remedy of curative petition, the convicts can then approach the President with their mercy pleas, a constitutional remedy available to them.

A curative petition is the last legal recourse available to a person and it is generally considered in-chamber.

The trial court issued death warrants of the four convicts -- Mukesh (32), Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) -- ordering that they be hanged on January 22 at 7am in Tihar Jail.

John and senior advocate Ajit Sinha said the convicts have time till january 22 to file curative petitions in the Supreme Court, which may or may not be entertained.

"They will be filing a curative. That is the only remedy left. Otherwise everything is final. Nobody can stop it (the curative pleas) but will it be entertained is the question. They have time till January 22," Sinha said.

John said the convicts could have done it earlier but what they can still do is to file a curative petition and upon dismissal of the curative pleas, they can move a mercy petition before the President.

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