Convicts cite ahimsa in bid to escape noose

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the plea of two rapists, convicted in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, to spare them from the death row in the name of
ahimsa
(non-violence), saying death penalty is still considered a “constitutionally valid” punishment under the Indian Penal Code and the court cannot ignore the law.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, who authored the judgment for the three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, quoted the nearly 40-year-old Bachan Singh judgment on death penalty to portray the long battle waged between the pro-death penalty advocates and the abolitionists.

Justice Bhushan referred to how the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh case batted in favour of death penalty saying that “the very fact that persons of reason, learning and light are rationally and deeply divided in their opinion on death penalty, is a ground among others, for rejecting the argument that retention of death penalty is totally devoid of reason and purpose.”

“If, notwithstanding the view of the abolitionists to the contrary, a very large segment of people, the world over, including sociologists, legislators, jurists, judges and administrators still firmly believe in the worth and necessity of capital punishment for the protection of society,” the apex court said.

Advocate A.P. Singh for convicts Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta said the argument in favour of abolishing death penalty was practical and moral. He had argued that death penalty goes against the principle of non-violence India had advocated for decades. It needed to be abolished as they had done in the U.K. in 1966 and in several Latin and Australian States.

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