Sunday, November 25, 2012

Long delay saved accused from the gallows

Gujarat EDN
TOI 01SEP2012

Naroda Patia Convicts Spared Death Because Of ‘Agony Of Trial’

Ahmedabad: The delayed trial in the Naroda Patia massacre case may have come as a relief for accused, who escaped capital punishment merely because 10 years have lapsed since the communal riots.
    While sentencing 31 persons to life imprisonment on Friday, additional sessions judge Jyotsna Yagnik wrote in her judgment, “On account of lapse of time and agony of impending trial and suffering of their families, the case just falls short of the rarest of the rare category, and the court feels somewhat reluctant in imposing death sentence.”
    The court was of the opinion that the sword hanging over the accused for ten long years and the purpose of deterrence has already been partly served in this duration. Thus, death should not be awarded.
    On the role of Kodnani, Bajrangi and seven others and their plea for mercy, the judge said, “Even not imposing the death penalty can also be safely termed to be grant of sympathy looking to their lion’s share in massacre.”
    The judge also elaborately dealt with the debate on abolition of capital punishment before coming to a conclusion on the sentencing. “When an alternative to death penalty is available, it is better to embrace the same. There are ways to address this violent crime in a more constructive way, as precious lives were lost in a barbarous attack launched by the assailants,” the judgment reads.
    Discussing the international movement against capital punishment, the court said that 130 countries had abolished the death penalty by the end of 2009. “There is momentum for the general suspension of capital punishment through out the world. To respect the right of those on death row, the movement of human rights and a moratorium on the use of death penalty is under serious consideration at the UN. Progressive society restricts the use of the death penalty. Article 5 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights guides to respect human dignity and says that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the court expressed its mind about capital punishment.