Thursday, June 22, 2006

'Hundred percent reservation in capital punishment for Dalits and religious minorities'

Death penalty mostly awarded to dalits and religious minorities

-- By Ish Gangania
(Sub-editor, Apeksha quarterly Hindi magazine, Delhi, and a Social Activist)

The serious issue 'Why does the capital punishment confine only to the weaker sections of the Indian society ?' raised by the honourable President Prof. Abdul Kalam does not mean that the honourable president is interested in debating the issue 'Whether death penalty should be retained or abolished ?'

He seems presently to be solely concerned with almost hundred percent cases of death penalty being awarded to weaker sections, dalits, and religious minorities.

Does this indicate that the upper class does not commit any crimes or there is something else that enables to keep them free from capital punishment ? This issue is not as simple as it seems, so it needs a serious debate throughout the country to reach at an appropriate conclusion to ensure the true democracy and justice.

To debate this issue, it is necessary to look at the views of the eminent personalities concerned with the law of the land and justice administration system. First of all, I would like to quote the former attorney Ramsey Clark who has the same opinion as the honourable President has. He comments: 'It is the poor, the sick, the ignorant, the powerless, and the hated that are executed. (1) Secondly, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer expresses the same views in his address at Stockholm, i.e., 'Any economic-penological survey will reveal that, by and large, death penalty laws' wrathful majesty, in blood-shot equality, over periods of history, deals the fatal blow on the poor, not the rich, the pariah, not the brahmin, the black, not the white, the under dog, not the top dog, the women, not the men, the dissenter, not the conformist. Capital sentence perhaps has a class bias and colour bar, even as criminal law barks at both but bites the proletariat to defend the proprietary. (2)

These two quotations tell that the people concerned with Money, Muscle-power (Mafia) and Monarchs (corrupt politicians who are an abuse on democracy) play the key role in making democracy and justice-a big fraud or hypocrisy. Actually the criminal cases against the so-called upper class/caste reach in the courts in large numbers but to play with the judiciary and the constitution not to honour the courts of justice. The episode of Gujarat riots, anti- Sikh riots of 1984, and merciless killing of five Dalits under the nose of police at Dulina (Haryana) are the burning examples of the combination of the 'Three Ms' where none got capital punishment. This type of massacres give a clear message that a person having even any one of the three, is above the law and it is the poor, deprived and exploited on whose shoulders the democracy and justice survive and enjoy glory.

Needless to say that all the pillars of democracy i.e. executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the media all have a caste/religion (Hindu) dominance and monopoly. They influence more or less all the social, political, economical, and judicial provisions. I feel it necessary to quote Dr. Ambedkars views to unveil the cruelty of caste prejudice that can be a great help to understand this issue to reach at an appropriate conclusion. He remarks- The effect of caste on the ethics of the Hindus is simply deplorable. Caste has killed public spirit. Caste has destroyed the sense of public charity. Caste has made public spirit impossible. A Hindus public is caste. His responsibility is only to his caste. His loyalty is restricted only to his caste. Virtue has become caste ridden and morality has become caste bound. There is no sympathy to the deserving. There is no charity to the needy. Suffering as such calls for no response. There is charity but it begins with the caste and ends with the caste. (3)

What Dr. Ambedkar had remarked is relevant and remarkable even after fifty-seven years of independence. Take the example of a Dalit woman of Rajasthan named Bhanwari Devi who was gang raped by some people . They belong to so-called upper caste or marshal race. I doubt that they even deserve to be called human beings. They in fact are deadly cowards who gang raped an innocent Dalit woman. Secondly, the arguments given about their innocence in the judgment of courts at different levels proved very shocking when their caste was considered a symbol of superiority and their kinship was also declared one of the strongest bar where rape against a dalit woman was not accepted collectively. These types of developments put the judicial procedure under strong doubt where accountability, morality, social values, and humanity receive a blow on the face of law and order, social system and judiciary. That is why, justice dies a shameful death under the anarchy and monopoly of ugly casteism and religious fundamentalism. This type of corrupt and discriminatory social system is one of the main reasons that push the poor and depressed, not the rich and so-called upper castes, to the guillotine of death.

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