If death penalty doesn’t work, why thirst for it?

Ajmal Kasab, the “killing machine”, has been pronounced guilty in the dastardly siege of Bombay. He is to be hanged and the state prosecutor Ujwal Nikam has held up the judgement copy with the cover screaming “Yes, you are guilty.”

Even responsible TV faces admit they have been a little discomfited by the tone and tenor of the television coverage, the blood lust in words and images, leading up to the judgement in the November 26 trial.

Admittedly, the sentencing will assuage some of the sentiments of the nearly 200 victims. And obviously Kasab is only going to get what he gave to the innocent bystanders at VT: death.

Still, questions remain.

With 309 convicts on the bench, with the Afzal Guru case still hanging fire, with 29 mercy petitions before the President, when will Kasab’s turn come, if at all? And will it change anything?

Editorial in Deccan Herald:

“It remains a moot point if the practice of awarding death penalty really serves the purpose for which it is envisaged.

“Fifteen years ago, India had told the United Nations that death penalty was required to instill fear and deter future criminals from perpetrating grave crimes, including terrorist acts. Yet, there is no evidence to suggest that these harsh statutory provisions have helped reduce crime.

“Nearly a hundred countries have abolished capital punishment, a dozen others have reviewed their statutes to preclude ‘ordinary’ crimes from their purview and over 30 others have undertaken not to invoke the harsh punishment though the provision for it continues to exist in their respective statutes.

“Apart from the lack of empirical evidence to establish that the fear of death penalty reduces the incidence of heinous crimes in society, liberal democracies have generally accepted the argument that the state should desist from taking away an individual’s right to life as a measure of extreme punishment — death cannot be a punishment; it is its abrupt end.”

Read the full editorial: Life over death

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will Ajmal Kasab be hanged?

Should Afzal Guru be pardoned?

What if Arnab Goswami were in jail with Kasab?