“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars”. – Martin Luther King
This article is widely based on the ‘Death Penalty India Report (DPIR)’, which was released on 6 May 2016 and contains the findings of Death Penalty Research Project . The DPIR is divided in two volumes of which one contains the quantitative information regarding the prisoners sentenced to death, their nature of crimes, socio-economic backgrounds and of course their legal representation. The second contains the experience of prisoners in police custody, through the trial and appeal process, and impact on their families.
Let’s understand what is death penalty with the help of current examples:-
Death Penalty/Capital Punishment for sexual violence is a government sanctioned practice whereby a person is put to death if he/she is accused for sexual violence with a person and then killing him/her. The recent examples to show the case of death penalty are:-
1. The Priyanka Reddy Case of 2020, she was firstly ganged rape by four men and was burned to ashes. The police officials didn’t thought twice and encountered the covicts on the spot.
2. The Delhi Gang Rape Case of 2012, the victim was gang raped by six men, of one was a juvenile and 4/6 were hanged to death in February 2020 and remaining 2 committed suicide behind the bars.
3. In 2018, six men were convicted of abduction, confinement, rape and murder of an eight year old girl in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.
4. Madhya Pradesh also has a problematic constitutional practice where prosecutors are being incentivised to get the death penalty- a prosecutor that get a death sentence in sexual violence case gets more points, and there are rewards for being the best prosecutor.
One of the main surprise is that of the state-wise data of using death penalty. Be it Jammu and Kashmir or Central India or the Northeast, there is a very little use of death penalty. The popularity of death penalty, is driven in this decade at least, by concerns of terrorism and sexual violence. With all countries having death penalty, the burden of which falls on the poorest and most marginalized sections of our society.
All political parties are complicit in developing this terrible, counter-productive narrative, and feeding this public frenzy that sexual violence is best handled by punishing people more harshly. It is really very easy to villianise four people or a hundred rapists instead of asking a more broader question of “what in our society produces sexual violence? “
The proportion of death sentences imposed for sexual offences has consistently increased from 18 per cent in 2016, to 60 per cent in 2020. Ignoring documented research on the issues, and pronouncing death sentences on offenders does little beyond satisfying the retributive instinct of the public. However, seeking quick fixes within a broken criminal justice system only enables the state to give an easy, but inadequate cop-out for the state as a response to violent crimes.
Therefore, to conclude it would be rightly said that without taking proper readings and documents and not seeing the cases of sexual violence with utter disgrace and just killing the convits is wrong.
Refrences/Sources for Data:-
Project 39A by NLU, Delhi.