As the high court has finally delivered its verdict in Nirbhaya Rape case, according to the directives of which, four of the convicts will be sent to the gallows on 22 January, 7AM in the morning. With the pronouncement of the verdict, once again the debate about capital punishment has drawn the attention of the think tanks of the nation. Undoubtedly, raping an innocent girl was one of the most brutal acts perpetrated by the morbid men but the most pertinent question arises is whether the death sentence to the culprits of such heinous crimes will act as a deterrent? Will the number of crimes against the women of our society going to drop down? In response to this, we do not need to gather the statistics outside from any other country. Till date the death sentence exists in the Indian Penal code. It is very much a part of our judicial system, against which the voices have been raised several times by many human right activists. Indian Justice System stands on the pyramid of not retributive, but reformative justice, as the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi himself stated that we should hate the sin but not the sinner. There is no denying the fact that capital punishment is simply the outcome of retributive justice system which advocates an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth policy.
Those who support the idea of killing the culprit often forget the fact that they are doing the exact same that was done by the heinous criminals. Factually speaking, sending someone to gallows is an act of state-sponsored killing which is entirely antithetical to the notion of reformative justice. Here, we also cannot refute the fact that there are several lucanae in Indian legal system. Although there is no intention to be sympathetic towards the brutal rapists of Nirbhaya, the fact cannot be a controverter that their downtrodden social status has also pushed them to the scaffold. Had there been the sons of some powerful political leaders in place of these four men from the lower strata of our society, would they too have received the same sentence? In the Indian context, the answer is in absolute negation.
There are several intellectuals and the representatives of big NGOs that have been protesting for the abolition of the capital punishment from all across the globe; it does not mean that they are all in the favour of perpetuating crimes. They, in fact, understand that state-sponsored killings are not a remedy against the rising number of crimes in our country. It also cannot be negated that languishing in jail for the whole life under rigorous conditions is a much harder a punishment than snuffing out life, which merely involves a painful process of a few minutes only. Undoubtedly, India is a civilised society which believes in fair justice, which has the objective of reforming an individual if he has the slightest scope of it. Therefore hanging someone to death does not offer any solution. In sooth, it aggravates the situation. That is why philosophers like Albert Camus and Aristotle had stood steadfast against capital punishment.