MICHAEL VAZ, MERCES
THE review petition filed by three of the four convicts in the sensational 16 December 2012 rape of the 23-year-old girl in Delhi has been dismissed by the Supreme Court upholding the death sentence pronounced earlier saying that there was no miscarriage of justice. The parents of the rape victim have hailed the verdict and proclaimed that their daughter has finally got justice. Whenever the capital punishment is pronounced there is in general outburst from various quarters some justifying the verdict as a deterrent and others denouncing it. A senior Supreme Court lawyer has argued that there is no link between death sentence and deterrence of crime, asserting further that hanging a few men will not change the sexual violence of women, and that it only enables the state to abdicate its responsibility of protecting the women. Amnesty International has also expressed its disapproval on the verdict saying that there is no evidence to show that execution acts as a deterrent for sexual violence or any other crime. Some people have taken exception to the sweeping changes in laws related to rapes and sexual exploitation lamenting that India is one of only three countries in the world that has expanded the scope of the death penalty by adopting new laws. Instead it has been felt that government must allocate adequate resources for improving investigations, prosecutions and support for victims’ families. It cannot be denied that no punishment can be a deterrent to crime but then the capital punishment is one way to instil some fear in the minds of people to think twice before the commission of grievous crimes. Besides it is a way to bring some consolation to the family of the victim that justice is meted out. Even other arguments that awarding death sentence brutalises the society by killing a person or that retribution is immoral and it is just a sanitised form of vengeance do not carry much weight. Neither the justification that innocent person may be hanged is palpable as the accused are given all liberty to fight their case in the hierarchy of courts. The defence counsel for the convicts made a tall statement that death penalty is cold-blooded murder in the name of justice. Let us recollect that the criminals after raping the girl had brutalised her savagely and threw her out from the moving bus to die, and rightly they deserve the gallows.