When Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard in Kolkata, was sentenced to death for raping and then murdering a 10th standard girl, a whirlwind of opinions for and against the death penalty made many to sit up and ask some tough questions. Was it ethical to hang Dhananjoy? Was there any alternative? Should not Peter Bleach be hanged for dropping arms from an aircraft in Purulia in West Bengal? After all, was he not waging a war against the state? Why was Bleach’s case seen with magnanimity by the political leadership? Reports indicate there are around 55 convicts to be sent to gallows in various parts of the country. Many of them are poor and have no access to expensive lawyers. If they had, they would have probably been able to use their influence just like the Latvians did. In the raging Dhananjoy debate two extreme positions emerged. One was that those convicted of serious crimes must be severely punished. The other view was that in a civilized society, death penalty should not even be debated. Whether India needs death penalty or not is not the question, but whether justice has been done.
Md Ziyaullah Khan