Why I support the Death Penalty

On a day like today, when the whole nation is mourning the loss of a 23 year old girl who died after suffering unimaginable pain and torture like many other daughters of this glorious country, I really feel like talking to my grandfather. Renowned for his honesty and integrity as a Judge, my grandfather’s views on the Justice System and The Death Penalty were well known.

Throughout his long career, my grandfather handed out only two Death sentences. He seemingly tried his best to avert such a sentence in both instances. His reason for opposing the death penalty was simple- As a Judge, he had been witness to many cases wherein lawyers exploited any and every loophole in the book of law to help convict an innocent or free a guilty man. And as an individual who was constrained by the evidence or lack of it while delivering ‘Justice’, cases that merited the Death penalty were immensely difficult to scrutinize simply based on evidence which sometime might be blatantly concocted.  After all, one of the primary arguments of Anti- Death Penalty activists is the fact that a falsely  accused person will be wronged beyond reproach if put to death.
This is probably the only point that I strongly concur with the Anti- Death Lobby.

Having conceded the initial point, let me continue to elaborate on why otherwise, I completely support Capital Punishment. 
Today I am convinced that the Death Penalty is indeed most important for a society. Before the Human rights activists laugh and the politician’s scoff at me for being immature, impulsive, aggressive etc. let me tell them that I have in the past also been an active supporter of the ‘anti death penalty’ drive. But I have changed my mind for good. I shall explain my reasons below by answering the common arguments put forth by Anti-Death Penalty activists:

‘Death is not a Deterrent’:

This is the one of their most common arguments  I want to ask them- Can you be very confident that Life Imprisonment is a deterrent to would be rapists and murderers out there? How can you ever claim that the fear of ‘jail for life’ rather than a primordial ‘fear of death’ will deter people from committing a crime? Has that been proved? No. The fact is that ‘Death’ will be a great deterrent provided Capital Punishment is used effectively. Hanging one person every decade will not scare the bad elements. Hang 100 Child Rapists, Murderers and terrorists in one year and observe the crime rate the following year. If it doesn’t dip, then your argument will be valid. But claiming that The Death Penalty does not act as a deterrent without even enforcing an efficient drive to hang the worst criminals in the first place is an argument that is fundamentally flawed.

‘Life imprisonment is harsher than Death’:

Do you know why this point is a joke? In a country where justice is delayed for decades, bail is handed out easily, corrupt prison officials provide cell phones and TV’s to hardcore criminals, presidents pardon child rapists and murderers and convicts are forgiven due to ill health and old age, how can anyone guarantee that the murderers, terrorists and rapists of this country will live out their life entirely in bitterness and remorse? How can you be sure that they don’t form friendships, enjoy their carpentry, yoga sessions, free food (Non Vegetarian sometimes!) and in a sick moment of madness, think back at their crimes and smile? Can you guarantee that over a period of time, they wont be released due to any Political leaders Birthday?In short, can anyone promise to the nation that these convicts will have a life devoid of fun and meaning (which they denied their victims)? The truth is, you cant!

Closure and Exposure:

In the case of a Death Penalty, there is a definitive end to the process of delivering Justice. Effectively and periodical publicizing these Deaths to the citizens will definitely impact potential wrongdoers rather than in the case of a life convict whose crime and punishment is forgotten over a period of time and rendered pointless by the cruel tendency of the human mind to ‘Forget’.

‘Punishment is to Reform’:

Trust me. Sometimes in life, one needs to have the courage to draw a line for society as a whole that proclaims- ‘Beyond that line, only God can forgive you. Humans cant’. I possibly cant see any point in trying to reform a Child rapist who rapes and mutilates two year old children.

‘Cost of Death Vs Life Imprisonment’:

One of the points that Pro Death Penalty activists cry out is the needless expenditure of keeping Dangerous convicts, terrorists and rapists alive. ‘Why should the state spend tax payers money on needless element in society?’ they ask
The Human rights activists immediately rebut this by pointing out that money should not be a deciding factor to hang an individual. But what they don’t realize is the fact that the Cost of keeping them alive is not just monetary. We all saw the cost of keeping terrorists alive during the Hijack of IC 814. We also saw the crores spent on Kasab’s protection and most recently the protection for the six rapists in Tihar.
More importantly, keeping bad elements alive only increases the chances of them spreading the poison in their mind to fellow inmates who might come out of jail as hardened criminals.

Last but not the least, when no other reason seems logical, the anti death activists fall back on the philosophical and religious reason:

‘Human Beings do not have the right to take another Humans Life’:

I shall answer this in a spiritual manner:

I am sure all of you have heard the saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’.
What this means in Layman terms is that- Don’t expect God to come and wipe your running nose or save your world. Do your bit towards humanity while believing that God is inside your body and mind, guiding you all the way.

People must realize that at some point of time, a human being loses his or her right to live.
Do you know?
Because mankind’s greatest gift is not the Earth, water, air or the wind. A human beings greatest gift is their ‘Life‘ itself! Life is our greatest gift. And a person who commits a heinous crime should lose that gift.

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14 Responses to Why I support the Death Penalty

  1. Yogi says:

    ‘Beyond that line, only God can forgive you. Humans cant’ is not right.
    ‘Beyond that line, only God can forgive you. Humans Shouldn’t’ is right.

  2. Anup says:

    I like your argument and see your point, but I see the death penalty as an easy way out for the criminals (those who have nothing much to loose).

  3. umashankar says:

    Sajan, this is what i said on a post ‘Cobwebs of the Mind’ by ‘The Motley Collection’ and I guess it is relevant here too:

    “I have come across a line of argument that says rape should not be made punishable by death and it should be punished by castration instead so that rapists don’t kill their victims after pillaging. My question is what would a rapist, of all creatures, in imminent danger of being castrated, do to the victim? What do you think the rapists were trying to do to the Delhi girl after they raped her in the bus, with crowbars and sticks? Open your eyes, they were beating her like mad to death.

    So, nothing scares men like death. Even those who commit suicide want to stop it in their last throes. Ask someone who has lain under a train and if he/she is still conscious, someone who has taken a leap off a high-rise, someone who has swallowed poison or strung a noose and jumped. Remember the victims of war and genocides. Read Jean Paiul Sartre’s ‘The Wall’. Put in the fear of death in the hearts. Quick, off to the wall, next morning. What, in God’s name are the procedures to be followed now? People are raping six month old babies! Do you thing they are going to testify against their own crimes? Or will the babies be able to tell? Maybe God is planning to descend? Witnesses? There was this woman called Jessica Lall shot bang in the middle of a party and what did we have?”

    Life term in India is a joke. There are killers and rapists who are out after putting in eight or nine years in jail even as their victims suffer, in case of murdered people their dependents . Remember the Mumbai nurse who is comatose for over two decades now, acid burn victims wanting to die every living moment but groveling ahead. Remember the thousands, or millions, whose cases have not been reported or registered by the police. Remember the Khaps. Remember the politicians. A dead chief minister of a state. A deader prime minister of a nation.”
    PS: Sorry for reproducing my own text, but hey, no harm in saving a few keystrokes. Here is the link to the post i mentioned:

    • Nothing to apologize for USP! I completely agree with the topic you shared and your views on it. I personally feel that laws, punishments etc may not be very effective in case of ;deterrence’. Societal change has to happen and rather than using the cliche term ‘time will only change these people’, we need to race against time to push that change!

  4. themoonstone says:

    While I have so far been on the ‘Anti-death penalty’ , your arguments are definitely strong and they are making me think again.

    • Thanks a lot! the funny thing is, i recently read a couple of articles that put up a strong case against death penalty. And a few other interesting thoughts and out of the box ideas for punishment! So i guess for us, as a society to accept any form of punishment itself is going to be very tough.

      • themoonstone says:

        The problem is in the sacrifice of the innocents. Are we prepared to sacrifice some innocents in the process. sacrifice of innocents or punishing all the guilty – which side should we err ? Look at what happens when draconian laws are enacted like POTA. Innocents were also massacred in the process. Are we prepared to pay the price is the question.

    • True. As i mentioned earlier, reform has to speed up in all aspects of social governance. No excuses.

  5. debajyoti says:

    you cannot reform so many bad elements in the society, you protect the rest from them. fear of death can be the biggest and perhaps the only deterrent to these criminals provided the laws are enforced effectively. having said that, i do agree with your grandfather – an innocent person being convicted is very high considering how flawed our judiciary system is.

    • True! The Idea of ‘reform’ has been gangraped by all Indians over the last 6 decades. Its time to change Judiciary along with a host of other things. But its a sea of change. The people need to understand that the epicentre of the trigger for change lies not in the parliament or Luytens Delhi or the saket courthouse, but it has to be in everyone’s conscience.

  6. Sathyamoorthy says:

    Why do you need a Death Penalty when you can screw the person in so many ways. Do you really think of harsh punishments (capital or whatever) will reduce crimes? And What about the Victim or his/her dependents? I remember one of the old Shivaji movies on this subject. (Don’t remember the name).

    • Satya- I liked what you said on facebook! A very interesting idea. I somehow feel that the fear of death will bring down crime. But as i sad, first one should hang people to find out if it works! which we don’t do!
      Your thoughts should have a voice. why don’t i see a blog by you yet?!!

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