Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Of Indecency ... continued

.... continued from Of Indecency and Afzal's Execution

The Hindu in today's editorial has again blown the trumpet of "human rights" of the convict facing the death penalty through T R Andhyarujina's  (Former Solicitor General of India) article "An execution most foul."

Supreme Court has in numerous cases condemned the delay in the execution of convicts. It reasons that the delay causes mental agony to the convict and dehumanizes him which is against humanity. The article upholds the views.

I fail to understand the reason of the Supreme Court about the delay in execution of the convict on death row. On the one hand, the Supreme Court says that the death penalty should be awarded only in the "rarest of rare" cases. The basis for awarding the death penalty as per the apex court through various judgments is that -

a) nature of the crime and its effect on society's conscience must be considered
b) alternative punishment of life imprisonment must be foreclosed
c) mitigating factors of the convict - age, mental health etc

This suggests to me that death penalty is awarded when as a society we decide, on the basis of the ghastliness of the crime,  that the convict cannot be rehabilitated in the society by any means and must forfeit his right to live. 

What human right can possibly surpass one's right to live? The conscience collective decides to deny the most fundamental right to the convict. The "rarest of rare" doctrine assumes that the convict is already dehumanized to the point that it is impossible to reinstate his humanity.Why then is the Supreme Court worried about the "dehumanization" of the convict?

Functionally, the delay works in favor of the convict and the society. First, the judiciary is prone to errors in judgement and is known to have executed innocent people or those who received punishment not commensurate with the crime. While the victim did not have an opportunity to save his life, the convict still does have it.

The delay also allows the society to mull over the effectiveness of death penalty. The slightest possibility that the society might decide to abolish it is in favor of the convict who deprived the victim of his life.

Psychologically, if the delay has any role to play, it is that the time lapsed between conviction and execution has the capacity to re-humanize the convict to feel the guilt of his crime and understand the value of the human life that he once took away from the victim. 

What is the point if the convict ends up dead without realizing the pain that his actions inflict on the victim's family or his own family?

Another question arises now - Should we believe that the convict is humanized enough during such period and be merciful to him by allowing him the possibility to rehabilitate in the society? I believe yes! Theoretically it is precisely the basis for any crime involving imprisonment. However, I don't want to indulge into that question. But I cannot buy the reasoning of the Supreme Court that the agony suffered by the convict due to delay is against humanity. 

My intent is not to question the moral, political or social correctness of death penalty. Rather my frustration stems out of the fact that in every such case, the intelligentsia turns a blind eye to the victim's family's horror while selectively projecting the agony of the convict and his family. 

Why isn't anyone bothered about the agony and mental state of the victim's family?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Of Indecency and Afzal's execution

In Afzal Guru's case, the newspapers, especially The Hindu, are replete with "debates". A common man like me ends up baffled in the tumult and the haze surrounding the particular case of Afzal Guru and in general, the issues around death penalty.

Almost in every case around death penalty, it is the convict who becomes the victim. Everyone seems to lose sight of the real victim who has to face untimely death, in many cases, excruciating.

To value human life and uphold its sanctity has come to be the hallmark of modern societies, especially democracies. The same applies to the freedom of expression and speech. However, I am exasperated at the blatant exhibition of bigotry of the media houses which have entrusted upon themselves the duty to protect the human rights of convicts pushing aside the rights of the victims.

What about the human rights of the victims and their families? Why does not anybody including Ms Arundhati Roy, speak of the value of the victims' lives with the same fervor that they exhibited in Afzal's case?

Lawyers, media persons and intellectuals are bemoaning the indecency of the manner in which the government informed Afzal's family of his execution. What about the indecency and luridness in which Afzal executed innocents? Who is to speak of that?

The victims' families had to watch their loved ones die on national television. Can there be anything more agonizing and untoward than that?

The Hindu asks (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/in-afzal-execution-our-worst-enemies-couldnt-have-done-it-better-nariman/article4425667.ece)  "Has the Indian state diminished itself by failing to live up to the minimum standard of expectation, in not allowing a dying man to bid farewell to his wife and son?"

Were the victims allowed to bid farewell to their families? 

Everyone so loves to preach tolerance; but tolerance towards whom, towards what? An act becomes a crime only when it stands punished. What is the punishment befitting a well thought and planned murder of our policemen and the others? Let alone the effect on the morale of our policemen and soldiers who risk their lives to guard us. Who is to voice for them?

It is frustrating that none of our politicians came up with a spirited speech defending the rights of the victims and their families, the morale of the policemen who saw their colleagues die in the battlefield. 

To question the competence of the judiciary is every citizen's right as well as their duty. But before the media houses attack the government of indecency, they must search their souls. Speak of the anguish of the victim's family before you pay your respects to the convict and raise hell over the pain of the convict's family.



मैं छूना चाहता हूँ उसे
जो नित्य चलायमान है
स्थिर गति से, सौम्यता से
धूप-छाँव, मौसम मौसम
सदियाँ, साल महीने हर क्षण
वो पुष्पक में है या रथ में
मैं सीता हूँ या हूँ अर्जुन
इन प्रश्नों से, दुविधाओं से
जीवन के इस चक्रव्यूह से
अभिमन्युओं की नियति से
परे निकलकर, बचकर
उसकी छाती से लिपटकर
मुझको स्थिर होना है
चलायमान समय के
संग संग चलना है ...
धूप-छाँव, मौसम मौसम
मेरे जीवन का हर एक क्षण
समय तेरी सेवा में तत्पर.



समय हर मौसम में एक होता है ... लोग उसे अच्छा या बुरा बनाते हैं ...
समय बड़ा बलवान है ऐसा सब कहते हैं कोई कहता है समय खराब चल रहा है ... ख़राब मतलब दुष्ट मतलब रावण  ............रावन सीता को पुष्पक विमान में ले गया था



कोई कहता है समय तुम्हारी परीक्षा ले रहा है तुम्हें सबक दे रहा है
भगवान् कृष्ण ने अर्जुन को गीता का सन्देश दिया था .. वो अर्जुन के सारथी थे

 इसीलिए पुष्पक , रथ, सीता, अर्जुन आये हैं कविता में
 कोई कहता है समय के चक्र को कोई भेद नहीं सकता...
 अभिमान्यू ने महाभारत में चक्रव्यूह भेदना चाहा था.. मगर मारा गया

कवि कहता है कि उसे इन फेरों में नहीं पड़ना
वो सीता की तरह समय रुपी रावन के समक्ष असहाय नहीं होना चाहता
न ही वो अर्जुन या अभिमन्युं बन के समय से संघर्ष करना चाहता है
  वो समय के साथ चलना चाहता है ..कवि भी समय की तरह हर मौसम में एक सा महसूस करना चाहता है