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Law panel wants ‘gradual’ stop to death penalty except in terror cases

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New Delhi: The Law Commission, in a report released on Monday, recommended India abolish the death penalty, with the exception of terror-related offences, saying that sending a convict to the gallows has lost its relevance as a deterrent to curb heinous offences. While not recommending the abolition of death sentence in terror-related cases, the commission has however, said that “there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes”.

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Making an exception for terrorism, it noted that “a concern is often raised that abolition of death penalty for terrorism related offences and waging war (against India), will affect the national security”. “However, given the concern raised by the law makers, the commission does not see any reason to wait any longer to take the first step towards abolition of death penalty for all the offences other than the terrorism-related offences, said the report’s recommendations.

“It (capital punishment is deterrent) is a myth. It is no deterrence. It has lost its relevance as deterrent,” said Justice (retd.) A.P.Shah while releasing the report on his last day as the chairman of the Law Commission. The “strong recommendation” for the abolition of death sentence for all the offences other than terrorism-related offences and waging war against the country found favor with six members of the commission while three members – two government representatives and Justice Usha Mehra differed. Saying the abolition of death sentence had to be a “gradual” process as was done in England, Justice Shah said that “it has to be a gradual process and to begin with ordinary law”.

(IANS)

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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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Death Penalty
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


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