To forgive is human, and civilised as well
With the Supreme Court commuting death penalty of the three surviving assassins who killed Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May 1991, the debate on capital punishment, and whether it should be abolished altogether, has been rekindled. Clearly, the apex court has set a remarkable precedent, waiving off the execution of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan because of the inordinate mental and psychological trauma brought upon by the two-decade long delay in the matter. Given that their mercy petitions remained pending for 11 years, the Supreme Court has acted in the spirit of the Constitution by staying their executions on the ground of inordinate delay. Much like in the case of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the latest instance of judicial clemency can set an example and further the cause of the abolition of capital punishment. Obviously, all the punitive arguments have been proved wrong and it has been observed across geographical regions and time periods that death penalty has not served as a deterrent to crime at all. In fact, death penalty is nothing but a state-sponsored act of killing and under no circumstances can the state be allowed to become a violence monopolist. Instead, there must be attitudinal readjustments and humanising of the law itself, becoming more forgiving and benign rather than fearsome, unconscionable and unaffected.