Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

India – Execution of 4 on 1/2/2020 stayed by Court, now government applying to set aside stay..

The execution of the 4, which was scheduled for 1/2/2020 was stayed Patiala House District Court, and now the Central Government is applying to the Delhi High Court to set aside the stay order..

Nirbhaya Case: Delhi HC Reserves Order On Centre’s Plea Challenging Stay On Execution Of Convicts

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing on behalf of convict Mukesh, said that the “Centre has sought the setting aside of the order of the Patiala House Court” when “an earlier Delhi High Court order has clearly said that any order of the trial court should be challenged in the Supreme Court only”.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Sunday reserved its order on a plea filed by the central government and Tihar Jail authorities challenging the order of Patiala House district court which stayed the execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. A single-judge bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait reserved the order on the matter.

During the hearing, advocate AP Singh, who is appearing for convicts Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma, asked: “Why there was a hurry to execute the death sentence in this case only … Justice hurried is justice buried.” “They (convicts) belong to rural areas and Dalit families. They come to Delhi and get implicated. Mukesh and Ram Singh are Dalits. Both are brothers who came from a rural part of Rajasthan. It is not convicts’ fault. They cannot be made to bear brunt of ambiguity in the law,” Singh told the court.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing on behalf of convict Mukesh, said that the “Centre has sought the setting aside of the order of the Patiala House Court” when “an earlier Delhi High Court order has clearly said that any order of the trial court should be challenged in the Supreme Court only”.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Centre, alleged that the convicts were deliberately delaying the execution, adding that any delay in death sentence will have a dehumanising effect on the convicts.

A Delhi court last week stayed till further orders the execution of the four convicts — Akshay Thakur, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, and Vinay Sharma — which was earlier scheduled to take place on February 1.

The case pertains to the gang-rape and brutal murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012, by six people, including a juvenile, in Delhi. The woman had died at a Singapore hospital a few days later.

One of the five adults accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail during the trial of the case. – ABP, 2/2/2020

Nirbhaya: Govt challenges stay on execution, HC reserves verdict

New Delhi, February 2

The Delhi High Court on Sunday reserved its verdict on the Centre’s plea challenging the stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

Justice Suresh Kait said it would pass an order after all parties concluded their arguments. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the high court that there was a “deliberate, calculated and well-thought-out design” by the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case convicts to “frustrate” the mandate of law by getting their execution delayed.

Mehta told Justice Suresh Kait that convict Pawan Gupta’s move of not filing a curative or a mercy petition was deliberate. The four Nirbhaya case convicts were playing with judicial machinery and trying the patience of the nation, he said. The high court was hearing the Centre’s plea challenging the stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case.

Advocate AP Singh appeared for convicts Akshay Singh (31), Vinay Sharma (26) and Pawan gupta (25) opposing the Centre’s plea to set aside the stay on the execution of the death sentence.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing the fourth convict Mukesh Kumar (32), raised preliminary objection to the Centre’s plea, saying it was not maintainable.

She contended that the Centre was never a party in the case proceedings before the trial court and while the government was accusing the convict of delay, it had woken up just two days ago.

“It was the victim’s parents who had moved the trial court for issuance of death warrants against the convicts. At no point the government approached the trial court to get the death warrants issued immediately,” John contended.

He told the HC that the Centre had moved a plea in the Supreme Court seeking clarification whether co-convicts could be executed separately. A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012. — PTI – The Tribune, 3/2/2020

India – Capital punishment is a politicised, unjust, barbaric form of revenge. It is anything but justice.(an opinion)

India needs to abolish death penalty, and not hang 2012 Delhi gangrape convicts

Capital punishment is a politicised, unjust, barbaric form of revenge. It is anything but justice.

3 February, 2020 3:21 pm IST
Nirbhaya rapists are on death row in Tihar Jail
Graphic: Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

Every year, trial courts in India award dozens of death sentences. Many of these eventually get commuted to life sentences. You don’t hear much clamour to hang these people. You don’t see outrage on the streets. You don’t see national TV channels interview the family of the victims in these cases on a daily basis.


Here’s the data: Between 2000 and 2014, Indian courts sentenced 1,810 people to death, according to Project 39A of the National Law University in Delhi. More than half of these were commuted to life imprisonment by the courts. A quarter of the convicts were acquitted (such as former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani). Of these hundreds of cases, only the high-profile ones seem to actually meet the hangman.


Yet, the 2012 December Delhi gangrape case, commonly known as the Nirbhaya case, is different. It is a high-profile case. It ‘shocked the conscience of the nation’. And so, the men who raped and killed must be hanged. Can we please hang them before 8 February? There’s an election in Delhi and the BJP would like to show an achievement.


So, the Narendra Modi government is very unhappy that something as serious as taking away people’s lives can be delayed by a few days because the convicts want to make a case to not be hanged, to live unhappy prison lives instead.


Rarest of the not-so-rare


There’s something obscene and rotten about the death penalty in India.

We don’t discuss or debate it because the Right-wing accuses us of defending rape, murder, terrorism if we defend the death penalty.


No, opposing the death penalty does not imply defending the unspeakable horrors inflicted by death row convicts. It is not a debate over crime, but over justice. What is justice? What is just punishment? What do we speak of when we speak of justice and punishment?


After Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon were hanged, next are the ‘Nirbhaya’ killers. Does it strike anyone that only high-profile criminals are getting executed? That alone should be grounds enough to not hang Nirbhaya’s killers. There are so many cases of gangrape and murder out there, but only these four are to be hanged.


According to the Supreme Court of India, the death penalty is to be given in the “rarest of the rare” cases. How rarest of the rare is gangrape followed by murder? Do you hear anyone clamour for the death penalty for the Kathua rapists? Do you see the victim’s family being interviewed every day?

Cases of rape-and-murder have been rising along with the number of death sentences given by courts.


Despite widespread awareness that there could be a death penalty in such cases, rapists seem to be killing their victims more frequently. That’s because, many fear, the death penalty is the biggest incentive to murder. They don’t want the victim to stay alive and file a complaint or give a testimony in court.


Undoing death


The certainty of punishment rather than the degree of punishment will deter more crimes. Most state governments are yet to set-up fast-track courts for sexual offences. They don’t have money, they say. Hanging the Delhi rapists and murderers will satisfy our bloodlust, but it won’t make justice any faster.


If killing the killers is justice, why don’t we argue for raping the rapists, robbing the thieves, setting on fire the houses of arsonists?


The ugly truth about the death penalty in India is that it is a political tool. The politically embattled UPA-2 government hanged Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab to show that it was a strong government. Guru was not hanged for years but suddenly, national politics found an opportune time to do it.


Now, it turns out that there may be some doubt over whether Afzal Guru really deserved to die. He had claimed that he did whatever he did on the behest of a Jammu and Kashmir police officer. In 2020, the same police officer, Davinder Singh, was arrested ferrying terrorists.


We can’t make that police officer confront Afzal Guru face-to-face today because Afzal Guru is dead.


That’s the thing about the death penalty. It can’t be undone.


There have been cases where the Supreme Court has, many years later, admitted mistakes in awarding the death penalty. In 2009 the Supreme Court admitted it had  wrongly sentenced to death 15 people over 15 years.


If there’s a mistake in awarding life sentence to someone, you can undo that mistake, release the person, perhaps even give compensation. How do you undo death?


Civilised ways of seeking closure


In a country where Maya Kodnani gets acquitted and a cop accused of being Afzal Guru’s handler goes unquestioned, the death penalty is a bad joke. Across the world, 102 countries have completely abolished the death penalty. And some more have abolished it in practice.

The countries that have death penalty are countries India usually doesn’t like to be clubbed with. Except for the US, they are mostly not democracies. It is time we had a debate over abolition.


Supporters of the death penalty will often say, what if it was your sister? Families of victims don’t get to decide what is just punishment. That is for a society to decide together. And yes, closure is important. But the death penalty is not the only way families of victims can achieve closure. There are more civilised ways to do that. – The Print, 3/2/2020

India – Opposing death penalty to address the terrible and distressing prevalence of sexual violence in our community

A media statement by a group in India

Opposing death penalty to address the terrible and distressing prevalence of sexual violence in our community

We raise our strong objection to the imminent execution of the four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. The court has scheduled the hanging of four out of the six convicts tomorrow at 6 am. The incident had shook the nation when it happened in the capital and while the crime committed by the convicts is inexcusable, punishing them with a death penalty enables a culture of violence. According to the Law Commission report on death penalty in 2015, charging people with death penalty is no stronger a deterrent of crimes than charging them with life imprisonment.

Public opinion in India has consistently been in the favour of death penalty. In November, the case of gang rape from Hyderabad triggered a massive uproar for executing the accused. The aftermath of this incident, where the police in Hyderabad shot the accused in an alleged encounter and received nationwide appreciation showcases how perilous this public opinion can be for the criminal justice system.

Recent trends have shown the courts using the death penalty frequently in cases involving sexual offences against women and children. According to a study conducted by the National Law University Delhi, 52.9% of those charged with death penalty in India were convicted with sexual offences and murder. The response of the judiciary is often motivated by the public outrage against the convicts along with media slander. However, death penalty has not led to a reduction in sexual offences, nor has it resulted in an increase in conviction rates. In fact, the spectacle of death penalty removes public attention from actual legal and social reform that guarantee the safety of women and children.

Among the many flaws of death penalty, perhaps the biggest one is that it is irreversible. In 2004, Dhananjoy Chatterjee was given a death sentence for the rape and murder of a school student. However, several years after his execution, many facts have come to light that hint at the possibility that he might not have been the actual perpetrator of the crime. This case is a gross miscarriage of justice that cannot be reversed. Secondly, the criminal justice system in India is based on the principles of reform rather than punishment. The death penalty assumes that the individual is incapable of reform, moreover, it fundamentally violates the principles of justice. On 28 January, the Supreme Court granted bail to 15 convicts serving life sentences in the Gujarat Riots of 2002 on the condition that they engage themselves in religious and community services. If the apex court can deem the convicts of mob rioting, mass rapes and vandalism capable of reform, any other charges of death penalty can be questioned on constitutional and humanitarian grounds.

According to Amnesty International, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty. There are several international legal instruments that challenge the death penalty on humanitarian principles including the Second optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Death penalty endows excessive power upon the state and judiciary. It is an autocratic decision by the state which can be fatal to the foundations of a democracy. Moreover, particularly in India, the victims of death penalty in India almost always belong to the lower classes, marginalized and vulnerable groups who suffer from a lack of legal, institutional and political support.

At this time, we call to mind the recommendations set out within the Law Commission of India’s study of the death penalty, Report No. 262, in which it is noted that: ‘The notion of “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” has no place in our constitutionally mediated criminal justice system. Capital punishment fails to achieve any constitutionally valid penological goals.’

Therefore, death penalty is an inhuman, cruel and degrading practice that serves no purpose in actually deterring criminals. With due respect to the victim’s family, it is our strong recommendation that the decision of execution is reviewed by the Supreme Court and the convicts are instead sentenced to imprisonment for life. Capital punishment is again a murder of justice.

Kirity Roy
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
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