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Why the society needs capital punishment

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Esecuzione_monti_tognetti_roma_1868 By Nithin Sridhar

With Yakub Memon being hanged till death on 30th July morning, the debate about capital punishment has again taken the spotlight. Many intellectuals have criticized not only the hanging of Yakub Memon, but also the very system of capital punishment. The present article aims to analyze some of these arguments against the capital punishment.

But before analyzing the arguments against the capital punishment, we should  first briefly look into the role of punishment in justice system as understood in western and Indian traditions.

 The role of punishment in society

In the west, many philosophers and thinkers have written about the concept of punishment and justice.

Hegel argued that a crime is an infringement of rights and this can be erased only by infringing the rights of the criminal through the infliction of punishment.

Similarly, Igor Primoratz says that punishment is morally justified as long as it is just and that it is just when it is delivered to a person who has committed an offense. He further states that justice is not being done, if the guilty goes unpunished.

Therefore, the purpose of punishment is to make the criminal undergo hardship for the pain and suffering he has caused to his victim and this punishment should be proportional to the hardship he has caused to his victims.

 

Beccaria argues that the purpose of punishment is two-fold: to prevent the criminal from committing fresh crimes and to deter other people from committing those crimes. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: “A liberal justification of punishment would proceed by showing that society needs the threat and the practice of punishment, because the goal of social order cannot be achieved otherwise and because it is unfair to expect victims of criminal aggression to bear the cost of their victimization.”

Therefore, in the western tradition of thinkers and law makers, various arguments have been provided for the necessity of punishment in delivering justice and maintaining social order. These include punishing a criminal for a crime already committed, punishing a criminal to prevent him from committing crimes in future, to deter others from committing such crimes and to give justice to the innocent victims who have suffered.

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A similar view can be seen as being expressed by Indian thinkers and law makers as well. Various Smriti and dharma-shastras(i.e. books dealing with law, morality,  dharma etc.) deal with the duties of the king and the importance of punishment which is called as “danda”. For example, Manu says that anarchy will lead to the spread of fear among the common people (as there is no one to protect them), therefore, a king (i.e. a government) is necessary. He further says that the concept of punishment i.e. danda has been introduced so that the king (i.e. a government) can protect its citizens as only due to the fear of punishment will people involve in the practice of their own duties without resorting to adharma (unrighteousness). That is, the mechanism of punishment will ensure that people do not harm others or infringe the rights of others as its adharma and hence punishable.

Therefore, the role of punishment according to Indian worldview is four-fold: it protects the innocent, it punishes the criminals, it deters others from committing crimes out of fear of punishment, and it ensures social order by helping people practice their own duty peacefully.

Hence, we can safely conclude that “Punishment” is very vital for a harmonious functioning of a society. Now, let us look at some of the arguments made against capital punishment:

  1. Capital punishment is retributive: One of the important arguments against the capital punishment is that it is retributive in nature and this attitude is not conducive to delivering justice. It is argued that ours being a civilized society, we should not inflict an eye for an eye concept in our society. True, we should not implement an eye for an eye concept as practiced in some countries. At the same time, “proportional punishment” needs to be implemented. Without being retributive in nature, punishment cannot truly become preventive. Only when a criminal is punished for his present or past crimes, will one be able to restrain him from committing other crimes, or reform him so that he renounces his criminal ways. Such punishment alone will act as deterrence. Therefore, any arguments against capital punishment on the grounds of retribution can be equally applied to the whole mechanism of punishment. And the elements of retribution can be removed from justice system only when the mechanism of punishment itself is removed. This of course would lead to anarchy.
  2. Capital punishment will not act as deterrent: Another argument made is that capital punishment does not reduce crime rate. Some statistics have also been offered to show that in countries where capital punishment is prohibited, there the crime rates are low. But it must be pointed out that deterrent need not mean that there will be no crimes, or even that there will be a reduction of crimes immediately. Deterrence must be instead understood as preventing society at large from turning into anarchy, where people commit crimes openly as there is no fear of being punished. In the case of Yakub Memon who was involved in the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai, if capital punishment is not given, then it will encourage other people to involve in such activities. It will send message to terrorists that India is a weak nation where they can bleed people freely with very little consequence. Further, another terrorist may have hijacked a plane or could have taken a hostage in order to get Yakub released, the way it had happened in Kandhahar plane hijack. Therefore, capital punishments in many cases act as a deterrent against many future crimes and they also prevent society at large from falling into criminal activities.2098732622_607b8e09a2_o
  1. Death penalty to a criminal will not bring back the dead victim: It is true that hanging a terrorist or a rapist will neither bring the dead victim alive nor nullify the physical and mental torture that the victim had undergone. But then this argument can be applied to any punishment. Should it mean that all criminals must be allowed a free run across the country? After all, no punishment is ever able to right a wrong that has already been committed on a victim. The suffering of a victim cannot be nullified. The aim of the punishment is not to nullify the sufferings of the victim either. The purpose of the punishments including capital punishment is to prevent the particular criminal from committing crimes in future.
  2. Death penalty once given cannot be undone: True it cannot be undone and that is why the Indian justice system awards the death penalty only in the “rarest of the rare” cases.
    The question one should ask is: If a war against the state in the form of terrorism is not “rarest of the rare”, what is? If a brutal gang rape of an innocent girl is not “rarest of the rare”, then what is?
    Do the terrorists, whose actions result in deaths of hundreds of people, also think about death being an irreversible event? The fact is that people often misuse the concept of “kshama” or mercy. Mercy is given only to the one who truly deserves it. We should ask ourselves: Does a terrorist or a rapist truly deserve mercy?
    Further, the argument of mercy can be well used against the whole mechanism of punishment itself. If mercy is used as a universal rule, then all criminals will go scot free. Mercy must be used only on a case to case basic and not as an argument against capital punishment as a whole.
  1. Government/Judicial system does not have a moral right to take life: This is true. Government or judicial system indeed does not have a moral right to take anybody’s life. At the same time, it is also true that no person has right to harm or kill other people. Who will tell this to criminals? Who will prevent the criminals from harming others? The power to punish through proper judicial means is included in a democracy in order to protect the innocent and prevent the criminals from harming others. Capital punishment is just one form of punishment. No institution or person has moral right to take anybody’s life, but the mechanism of punishment including death penalty is inevitable in order to maintain social order and prevent criminal elements from creating chaos and anarchy.
  2. Innocent people may be given death sentence: This is a real possibility. When court punishes people, at times even innocents are inadvertently punished. This is true for all acts of punishment and not just capital punishment. But we cannot remove the whole mechanism of punishment due to this. It is for this reason, people on death sentence are given various hearings and only then, the hanging actually happens. In the Yakub case, he was repeatedly found guilty and his death sentence was repeatedly upheld in the courts. The possibility of innocents being punished is unavoidable, but the attempts must be made to prevent it as much as possible.

Therefore, it can be easily seen that many arguments against death penalty do not hold when analyzed from a larger perspective. These arguments of pacifism and blanked opposition to capital punishment can easily be applied to any kind of punishments. And if the mechanism of punishment itself is removed based on these arguments, then the society will end up in chaos and anarchy, where criminals will have a free run and masses will suffer. Though no person or institution has a moral right to take another’s life, yet capital punishment is necessary for the sake of protection of the innocent, punishment of the criminals and for the prevention of whole society from falling into crime.

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NewsGram.)

 

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Sexism is Real and Men Face it too!

While women tend to pay heed to such remarks, sexism directed towards men goes largely unnoticed. Read on to know if you have been making sexist remarks towards your male counterparts

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Sexism is unbridled in the Indian society and (finally) being talked about. Pixabay

New Delhi, September 9, 2017 : Society has a huge role to play in the person that we become. And sometimes, that may not be the right way to go about it.

More often than not, society forces us to be somebody we are not. A woman belongs in the kitchen, a man is not supposed to cry; who established these ground rules to function in the society?

Sexism is real, and men face it too (surprise!)

“Man up!”

“Don’t be such a girl!”

Men are always expected to display vigor and anger; their insecurities are rarely taken into account and would rather be pushed under a rug that the society largely identifies as ‘masculinity’.

We keep reminding men that they should not wear pink, that they cannot cry, and that they are only supposed to express their emotions in a certain way. We tell them to ‘not be such a girl’, to shake off their fears and ‘man up’ and to always take charge. And this never stops.

But what we are forgetting here is that men have emotions too; even when the society does not allow them to emote explicitly.

These expressions and understanding are so entrenched in daily communiqué that sometimes we fail to realize when we are making a sexist remark.

Yes, sexism is unbridled in the Indian society and (thankfully) being talked about.

While women tend to pay heed to such remarks, sexism directed towards men goes largely unnoticed.

Here are a few subtle hints to how sexism has become a part of everyday life for men,

sexism
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey 2016, 38 % victims of sexual violence were men.

Men are often faced with questions like “why didn’t you fight her?”, and made jokes on how they must have enjoyed it because why wouldn’t anybody enjoy a sexual encounter that essentially has ‘no strong attached’.

People in the 21st century fail to realize the real, societal damage that women who sexually assault men, cause to the society.

 

 

sexism
The society largely looks down upon the men who earn less than their ‘weaker’ counterparts.

The man is supposed to be the ‘provider’ of the family, earning most of the money. For many men, it feels like a hard slap when women earn more money.

Because if they aren’t earning a living for their family, how can they be a “true” man?

 

 

sexism
The society places unnecessary expectations on boys from a young age. Boys can only be ‘strong’, and ‘big’. Why cant they be sensitive and soft?

Sexism places men and women in stereotypical roles- women are ‘naturally’ kind, compassionate and sensitive, while the men are ‘naturally’ more rational, and stronger, physically and mentally.

 

 

Sexism
There is no denying that girls are body shamed,;but assuming that they are ‘weak’ and hence not self-sufficient is taking that to the next level.

People say this to boys all the time and must be immediately stopped because it increasingly encourages the mindset that girls are inherently weak.

Even when the tone of such sexist comments is compassionate- sometimes even flattering, they are indicative of a stereo-typically narrow and insulting worldview.

 

 

Sexism
Not only is it unnatural to discourage men from undertaking work that they are passionate about, it is also dangerous.

Despite the cliche that art is a universal language, artists are interpreted very differently in terms of their gender. The unease and suspicion that accompany a male artist, irrespective of what art form he practices, are often based out of society’s view of the body and a larger understanding of ‘masculinity’.

 

 

Sexism
Suggesting that boys and girls should be held to different behaviors is dowright demeaning, not to ignore dangerous.

The dominant idea about what a ‘real’ man should be include behaviors such as dominance, control, assertiveness, and emotional unresponsiveness. The society continues to think that men ‘do not do work’, but instead they ‘get work done’ by their weaker counterparts-the women.

While circumstances continue to evolve for the better, in the larger society, there still is a special place in the society  for men who get angry- they are looked upon with reverence. No one points out their anger issues, or frowns upon them. It seems like arrogance and aggression are the only two emotions that men can acceptably show; that these are the only emotions that a man today is capable of showing.

We need to understand that men no longer have to ‘man up’. Instead, let them be a little more human


 

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Arrest of Dr. Kafeel Khan on Eid: This is how Fanatics at Twitterati reacted to it

Should an accused not be arrested just because it happens to be a festival day?

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Eid is a muslim festival on which Dr. Kafeel Khan was arrested
Eid is a muslim festival on which Dr. Kafeel Khan was arrested. Wikimedia
  • The intermingling of Crime and Religion occurred  when a doctor named Dr. Kafeel Khan was arrested on grounds of medical negligence in Gorakhpur Tragedy
  • It is not wrong to arrest an alleged criminal on a festival
  • Some people are making Dr. Kafeel Khan’s arrest a communal act

New Delhi, September 4, 2017: Crime and Religion are separate entities altogether but sometimes people blur the lines between the two in order to save an alleged criminal giving religion as an excuse. We should not support a criminal or an alleged criminal even if he belongs to our religion as by doing that we are creating an unsafe environment for others, it can lead to communal violence, it’s wrong from humanitarian perspective, a criminal can do no good for the society (and also for the people belonging to the same religion as him).

There have been many cases in the past where people of India tried to save a criminal because of him being a Godmen (who can’t do anything wrong) like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Asaram Bapu, Paramahamsa Nithyananda many others. What connects these self-appointed leaders of religion is that their blind followers tried to defend them in spite of them being proved criminals. Such is the case with Indians and Religion that they try to defend criminals in the name of religion.

Also Read: Gorakhpur Tragedy: UP Police arrests Pediatrician Dr. Kafeel Ahmad on grounds of Medical Negligence

The intermingling of Crime and Religion occurred again when a doctor named Dr. Kafeel Ahmed Khan was arrested on grounds of medical negligence in Gorakhpur Tragedy. Whats the catch here? Why will people support an alleged criminal? Why will people speak against an alleged criminal getting arrested? We have the answer, it’s because Dr. Kafeel Khan is a Muslim man and was arrested on the day of Eid which according to the world of twitter is wrong.  Read the tweets below to find out the explanation given by people on why he should not be arrested on Eid:

An alleged  Criminal is an offender in eyes of law, the police can decide on what day he/she should be arrested and a festival falling on that day shouldn’t change the date of arrest. It is not wrong to arrest an alleged criminal on a festival. Should an accused not get arrested just because of a religious festivity?

Some people are making the arrest of Dr. Kafeel Khan a communal act. He was not arrested for being a Muslim, he was arrested for alleged acts of omissions and commissions as an administrator in the hospital in Gorakhpur where several children died allegedly due to lack of oxygen.

Muslim supporters of the doctor are playing the victim card and there are some people who agree on this.

In 2009, Dr. Kafeel Khan was accused of impersonating someone in the National Board Exam for medical registration.The Doctor was arrested due to rape allegations in 2015 but after the police investigation, he was proved innocent and was thus released.  All these past charges were brought into highlight by the social media.

The media hailed the doctor as a hero based on Dr. Kafeel Khan’s statement that he shelved money from his pocket to buy oxygen cylinders on 10th August. But we don’t know if what he said is true or he just said that to escape punishment. The social media played a big role in exposing the past charges.

We can smell hypocrisy here.

Also Read: Gorakhpur Tragedy: Infant Deaths, Principal of Gorakhpur Medical College Rajeev Mishra Resigns

But there are some people who know why intermixing of Crime and Religion is a harmful practice. An alleged criminal was arrested for the crime he did and not because of his religion. It’s shameful that people are defending him, saying it is wrong to arrest a Muslim man on Eid.There are 365 days in a year and on many days various festivals of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christians fall. By this logic, the police should not arrest alleged criminals on the day their prime festival falls which is impossible. This shows a reserved mindset of people who live in the 21st century and still mix religion with the crime. We should not support criminals or alleged criminals even if we share a common religion as ‘Criminals have no religion’.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
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Bengali Film ‘Dhananjoy’ Sparks a Fresh Debate on the Social Dilemma of Capital Punishment

Arindam Sil's 'Dhananjoy' revolves around the capital punishment of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard

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Arindam Sil's Bengali film 'Dhananjoy. Facebook
  • ‘Dhananjoy’ is a Bengali film directed by Arindam Sil
  • The film premiered theatres on August 11, 2017
  • Talking about capital punishments and death penalty, the movie has sparked a new debate on the social issue

August 19, 2017: Arindam Sil’s new direction, titled ‘Dhananjoy’ hit the screens on 11th August. The Bengali film since its release has sparked a fresh debate on the social dilemma of capital punishment.

Capital punishment by no means is a simple debate topic. The United Nations Organization has passed various resolutions urging governments of various nations to abolish the legality of the death penalty, however, these resolutions have been non-binding.

Also Read: Why the society needs capital punishment

There are 56 nations that hold death penalty legal. In fact, 60% of the global population resides in countries where the death penalty is held valid. Some of these nations are India, US, China, Indonesia among more.

Arindam Sil’s ‘Dhananjoy’ revolves around the capital punishment of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard. The film comes at the time of the 13th anniversary of his hanging.

Dhananjoy Chatterjee was executed by the state on 14th August 2004 for the rape and murder of a young girl, Hetal Parekh, in a residential complex. Aged 39, Dhananjoy was mercilessly punished leaving behind old parents, a wife and a brother.

The Bengali film has run along the lines of the 2016 published book, ‘Adalat-Media-Samaj Ebong Dhananjoyer Fansi’. The book portrays that Dhananjoy may have been wrongly committed the crimes he did not do. It was Hetal’s mother who was the culprit and got away. Dhananjoy was a scapegoat.

Sil shows in the movie that it was unfair for Dhananjoy if the judiciary or police in any way would have caused an unintentional error. Dhanonjoy spent 14 years in the prison, during which he kept claiming that he was innocent. He also kept saying that he was tired of being poor. Dhananjoy had little money, and his poverty was the reason behind him being put as the scapegoat. His lawyers with the little fees had lost interest in the case.

This theory by Sil clearly raised debates regarding the fairness of capital punishment and death penalty. The film Dhananjoy is sure to raise dinner table debates with family after watching the movie.

William Douglas, American Supreme Court Judge, once said: “Capital Punishment was for those without the capital.”

The United Nations conducted a survey in the year 1988. From the responses, they concluded that the fact “death penalty is more of a deterrent than life imprisonment” is absolutely baseless. Furthermore, the statistics extracted from countries who abolished the practice supports the conclusion of the survey.

If capital punishment is not abolished, the risk that an innocent could be hanged and killed lurks in the environment. Judiciary systems are not perfect systems.

In India, the judiciary is in worse conditions. With the lack of personnel, pending cases and archaic laws coupled with caste and communal hierarchic setup, capital punishment should be much researched in the country.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.