Sept. 19


EU joins call for halt to killings in drug war

The European Union has joined the global call on the Philippine government to "put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings" of drug suspects.

Alarmed at the rising death toll in President Duterte's brutal crackdown on drug syndicates, the EU Parliament directed its delegation in the Philippines and the embassies of 28 European countries in Manila to monitor rights abuses following his declaration on Sept. 3 of a "state of national emergency on account of lawlessness."

Mr. Duterte placed the entire country under a state of national emergency after a bomb exploded at a night market in his hometown, Davao City, on Sept 2, killing 15 people and injuring 69 others.

In an extraordinary intervention, the EU lawmakers passed a 5-page resolution expressing concern over the appalling number of drug suspects killed by police and vigilantes since Mr. Duterte launched a crackdown on illegal drugs upon taking office on June 30. More than 3,000 people have been killed in just over 2 months. Mr. Duterte has pledged to eradicate the drugs scourge in 3 to 6 months of his presidency.

The EU members represent the largest bloc of Western democracies, including Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Sweden, Portugal and Finland.

The EU intervention aligned with a number of states (including the United States), the United Nations and international human rights watchdog organizations that have called on the Philippines to end the extrajudicial killings.

This growing concerted global demand to end the extrajudicial executions has put the Philippine government at risk of inviting international sanctions, including either diplomatic or economic, and isolation if it continued to defy or ignore the calls.

Without directly blaming the government, the EU lawmakers said they believed Mr. Duterte's incendiary public statements had encouraged mass murders involving drug traffickers and users.

"President Duterte repeatedly urged law enforcement agencies and the public to kill suspected drug traffickers who did not surrender as well as drug users," the EU resolution said.

"President Duterte publicly stated he would not pursue law enforcement officers and citizens who killed drug dealers and who resisted arrest," it added.

No to death penalty

According to wire services reports, the EU Parliament adopted the resolution dealing with extrajudicial killings in the Philippines based on the Partnership Cooperation Agreement signed by the European Union and the Philippines in 2014, to advance engagement on political, trade, security, environment and human rights issues.

The agreement commits the Philippines to uphold the rule of law, social democracy, as well as international human rights conventions.

The EU Parliament also emphasized that ending the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects was vital to the Philippines' holding the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 2017.

The lawmakers pointed out that "President Duterte has announced that during the Philippines' chairmanship, we (the government) will highlight Asean as a model of regionalism and global player, with the interest of the people at its core."

They also called on the Philippine Congress "to abstain from reintroducing the death penalty (which Mr. Duterte has endorsed) and from lowering the minimum age of criminal liability."

The EU Parliament said that based on "all empirical evidence, the death penalty does not reduce the drug delinquency and would destroy a great achievement of the Philippine justice system."

It directed its delegation in the Philippines to provide wide assistance to the Philippine government to implement measures in line with its commitment to international human rights obligations.

Lack of understanding

On another front, Mr. Duterte came under fire from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for speaking against and opposing human rights institutions and investigations.

Speaking at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said, "The President of the Philippines" statements of scorn for international human rights display a striking lack of understanding of our human rights institutions and principles which keep societies safe."

Al Hussein pointed out that "fair and impartial rule of law is the foundation of public confidence and security" and "empowering police forces to shoot to kill any individual whom they claim to suspect of drug crimes, with or without evidence, undermines justice."

He emphasized, "The people of the Philippines have a right to judicial institutions that are impartial, and operate under due process guarantees; and they have a right to a police that serves justice. I strongly recommend the Philippines to extend an invitation to the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions."

Al Hussein said that governments had accused human rights institutions of interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations.

"Are human rights exclusively a national issue? Governments have the responsibility to uphold their human rights obligations and to respect the standards. But the human rights of all people, in all countries, also require - unquestionably - our collective attention," he said.

"Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent. If states pick and choose which rights they will uphold, the entire structure is undermined," he said.



Pros And Cons Of The Death Penalty

The much anticipated judgement on Bharath Lakshman Premachandra murder case was delivered recently. Accordingly, 5 people including former MP Duminda

Silva were given the capital punishment. The issue of Death Penalty and life imprisonment has become a much discussed topic in the society at present. With the issue of child molestation and murder there was a outcry from the society to impose the capital punishment. However the death penalty is not implemented and the convicts are automatically given a life imprisonment.

Therefore there is a common belief in the society that these convicts are pardoned and released All this is centered around the imbalances and inequalities of our legal system.

The following are some of the comments made by intellectuals and civil society activisits regarding the pros and cons of imposing the death penalty in Sri Lanka.


Brito Fernando - Chairman, Organisation of the Family Members of the Disappeared

Some aruge that the criminals have lost their fear to commit crimes as death penalty is imposed When considering the long time it takes for our judicial system to arrive at a decision and the cost, the society expects a quicker punishment.

Some people may thus claim that cutting the arm of a thief is an appropriate punishment.

The reason for this is the long delay in convicting the criminals But we must understand that many countries now think that it is pointless to kill the criminals. One may argue in both ways in this regard.

For an example when the crime rates are increasing the people want increased punishments to minimise crimes. In this regard until steps are taken to speed up the justice system the rule of law cannot be upheld.

So until then the demand for the death penalty will not stop. So we must dispense justice faster then public will not demand a short term solution.


Saman Rathnapriya - Social Activist

Death Penalty is not imposed or implemented carried out in civilized countries. But when we look at the wave of murders rapes and other crimes that were reported in the country no wonder the people demand death penalty as a solution. it was even discussed in parliament.When the public trust on the law and its agencies are shattered people tend to demand more grusome solutions'. People tend to think that killing the criminals is the best way to prevent them from being released back in to the society. But unfortunately there are no country in the world that has disciplined the people by imposing death panelty or inhumane punishemtns.

The main reason for this problem as I see is the inefficiency of the rulers of the the country so far. As informed citizens we cannot agree with the idea of preventing crimes by killing off criminals. Just because a man kills another human we cannot attain justice by killing the criminal So it is important to rehabilitate criminals. We must give them an opportunity to change themselves. So we must change the society in order to prevent crime.


Sagara Kariyawasam - Attorney At Law

The way I see itdeath penalty is a form of inhuman punishment. The concept of "an eye to an eye" is not suitable for a civilszed society. We have no right to end the life of another human being. So even our laws must evolve from such primitive states and move towards civilization. By killing a person the state could only send a threatening message to the public. Other than that it does not prevent any person from doing the crime again. If we take the countries that impose the most gruesome punishments in the world for an example, in countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia there are weekly executions of criminals by beheading and stoning. But still those societies have not been devoid of crimes.

If anyone is in the view that the society can be disciplines by punishing those who commit crimes then it is not a practical solution. Crimes can only be prevented by developing the morals of the people. Education and spiritual upliftment is the key in this. If anyone believes that criminals can be discouraged by hanging, then that is a false belief. If we could reform our laws and remove the death penalty from our legal system then in my view that is the most appropriate thing to do.

We must remove those who commit crimes from the society and rehabilitate them. If there are those who cannot be rehabilitated then there is no problem imposing life sentences on them. But still when it comes to the right of taking a life, I still belive that no one has a right to do so.

If by killing the criminal we intend to punish him, it is an unsuccessful attempt as the criminal is being freed from the bonds of his life. What is the punishment there? Some try to justify this by saying that others learn a lesson by seeing the executions. But in reality the crime rates of the countries that do carry out the death penalty has not been reduced. Therefore in my opinion removing the gallows is the least we could do as a civilied society.


Rev. Shantha Sagara - Editor, Gnanarathna Pradeepaya

In our legal system the parties are being tortured in a lengthy legal procedure. But when the life time imprisonment is imposed, we still cannot see any strict application of justice. Therefore there is a common belief in our society that the law in Sri Lanka ia not strict and that it is not enforced. It has been confirmed by the way the trials are being conducted and the final outcomes of those trials.

The convict who receives a life time imprisonment goes out smiling. He shows his handcuffs to the public as he thinks that this is only for a short time. The death penalty has become a joke at present no wonder the people are laughing at the law.

In the past those court decisions were respected. But today it is not so. The convicts are either being freed under the frame work of human rights or on moral grounds based on the disgrace it creates in the international community. So we have to look for an alternative method. We must take the right decision on this regard. If we do impose capital punishment then we must carry it out or we must not impose the capital punishment at all.

Here we must look into the religious point of view when imposing capital punishment. Even though Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country the law and dministration must not take that into consideration when enforcing the law. Giving fair punishment for a crime is not something that is gainst the culture.

Especially when it comes to the fight against narcotics we see a deterioration of entunsiasm among our leaders. No matter how much we talk about it still there are kilos of narcotics being confiscated often. We even see foreigners moving freely inside the country with narcotics. The number of pardons available to criminals has removed all sense of repentance for the crime.

Even if we could not bring back the gallows we must do something to strengthen the seriousness of the law. The jail has now become a place that offers people free food and lodging. Some are even willing to stay in jail than be free. Words such as death penalty and gallows have lost there meaning. So we must find out a solution for this. Otherwise it's the law that is being disgraced.


Dr. Tudor Weerasinghe - Senior Lecturer, J'Pura University It is normal for humans to make mistakes.But unlike those who are compelled to break the law due to poverty or physical and mental deformities, there are group of people who commit organised crimes in order to enhance their power or wealth in the society. This latter group of individuals must be punished for their actions.

Under existing laws if anyone is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt then there is no problem in imposing the maximum punishment that is available, be it the death penalty, for he has committed the offense intentionally.

That is something that should not have happened in a civilised society. But we must also keep in mind that the society cannot be rectified by imposing the death penalty alone. The society can only be changed by making structural changes.

Even though there is a legal frame work in our country that permits the death penalty it is not being executed on moral grounds.

Instead the convicts are given a life imprisonment. But here the jail tem can vary on the government changes and other factors. So this has a serious effect on the society. This might allow people to think that they could evade justice by doing any kind of crime. This is only going to encourage criminals to do more crimes.

In a less developped society like ours the gap between social classes, wealth and power could have impact on law The capital punishment is the bench mark of the discipline of a country. So it has an effect on the society than we think. so we may argue that death penalty could do an injustice to those who have been wrongfully convicted. In our judicial system innocent people as well as criminals are being convicted and acquitted all the time.

That is is problem with the system. Our judicial system is tied to finances and how it floats. So on practical grounds it is not easy to expect justice. It may vary on money, power, social status, political influence etc

So there are many things that affects the dispensing of justice. In this regard it may be questionable for the people how the death penalty is carried out. Therefore it has become an important part in driving the society to a disciplined status.



Koroma government of Sierra Leone resumes the death penalty

I listened to Palo Conteh, the Minister of Internal Affairs shooting from the hips in an interview in which he was literally telling the world, with all the glee of a grim reaper, to go to hell, because his government will soon hasten the dispatch of anyone sentenced to death for drawing blood from another person.

Fair enough, on the face of it, he has a good point that the law is still very much in our statutes. But I'm not sure that state killing is the answer.

I am not sure that the increasing wave of dastardly acts is a reason for the government to go down that barbaric road with all pomp and pageantry, when the nation - its people and its resources, are being systematically dismembered to the distrustful swagger and mocking actions and words of national undertakers who don the garb of statesmen and leaders.

How lovely it would be, if the gradually oppressive 'monarchical' order, applies the same blood-thirsty rule to the numerous kleptomaniacs in its circle, that together form the bedrock of its existence, and serve as the face of all that is bad in our governance.

It is just infuriating to hear how the supposed custodians of national morals engage in ethically wrong behaviour and go unpunished; yet minnows are killed by the state with a sledge hammer.

Palor ContehI also wish the administration of which Palo is an integral part, will simply use the same brainwave and determination to nail people to the cross, so as to solve the current deplorable state of our socio-economic and political problems - a creation of their making.

In great societies, laws are reworked and new ones created to engage the changing dialectics for the greater good.

No one is against corporal punishment if deemed absolutely necessary. But correcting the ills of the society is a better option for the development of a nation which, is continually plagued by fiscal indiscipline and financial irregularities of complex and unprecedented dimensions.

It is the government and political henchmen like Palo who, through corrupt tendencies, have created the state of economic and socio-political insecurity that are keeping away companies that would have provided employment for our teaming unemployed youths.

The roaming young men and women determined to utilise any available means for survival and social leverage, including fraudulent activities, intimidation and violence, are only taking a cue from the signals emanating from those in the corridors of power - no more no less.

8 years on since coming power, the government's much-trumpeted solution to the dilemma of our youths, is still in realm of the imagination of our leaders who swore heaven and earth to deal with the problem.

Yet, I did warn that post-war histories indicate that insecurity is a terminal outcome of a society which fails to tackle this problem of idle and frustrated young minds, that see their leaders living a life of luxury without sweat.

The very idea that 'Change' starts with the led and not the leadership, can best be described as an abdication of responsibility by the leadership. It is the likes of Palo that encourage the same level of indiscipline that prevails in the society today.

It is the greedy politicians seeking leverage in national politics, that empowered and encouraged the emergence of criminal groups who serve them well.

For example, the battle for control of the APC national Youth League now playing out, is an off-shoot of the power tussle within the ruling party, which is already having a spill over effect.

Those in power, such as Palo who should nip this in the bud are turning a blind eye and running after the gold when the gilt is right under their nose.

With activities which are indicators of economic buoyancy of the citizenry not thriving, why aren't those in power thinking about leveraging our blessed and resourceful land to innovate, instead of focusing on how to decimate an already emaciated populace? Or don't they know that a hungry person does not sing alleluia.

Rather than ministers behaving like talking dolls who spout inane phrases when the strings are pulled, those in power should realise that they have a moral duty to tame and civilise trendy savages.

But this can only happen if those in power have ensured that the general welfare of those whom they psychologically manipulate into voting for them, are improved.

Defence minister - Palo Conteh

Since joining the government, Palo, the preening peacock lusting after glory, has always seen himself as the 'untouchable' and a dragon who prides himself on some weird self-absorbed, self-adulatory knowledge, steel and expertise. But he isn't.

He might pride himself as having wrestled with the Ebola pigs, wriggled with the opposition snakes, able to live with thieves and having lunch with a mix breed of homo sapiens amidst the government's track record of celebrated looting, emptiness and mediocrity.

However, the crude cloak he adorns, tells a different story of whom and what he is. He is one mortal man who seems to have the eerie ability to screw up the simplest things with unbridled hubris, and who in his delusional mind, makes most decent folk want to reach for the 'vomit bucket' for crying out loud. Sad Nation.

I have a message for him and indeed those in the corridors of power who think the world is simply their oyster: At the cemetery - you will realize that life is worth nothing; the ground we walk today will be our roof tomorrow. Your only epitaph will be the legacy that leaves the majority better off than when you met them, rather than the mansions and fat bank accounts you leave behind.

Meanwhile, when you are dead, you do not know you are dead. All of the pain is felt by others. The same thing happens when you are stupid.

We are where we are because of our age long laziness on all fronts. Like I've said, we have become shock less...We are unprogressive in thought and actions. We revolve around the same circle all the time. Our voice is louder than our actions. We must change our ways and our thinking.

Sierra Leone as a nation appears cursed. This is one of the major reasons why the country is in the current very sorry state. We are collectively guilty as we have, by our complicit silence, contributed in no small way to the creation of the conscience-less nation that we have today and a leadership that promised much and delivered less, except personal aggrandisement.

Because we started worshiping the measurement and not the thing being measured, we are now celebrating IMF migraine, foreign-cash constipation, governance sciatica and socio-political diarrhoea.

The car-crash economic and socio-political dummy bleating in the wind is an indication of how deep the country is truly in shit. It's a deep governance rut indeed. And we still don't realise it. We are a revolving people on a journey to nowhere.

Today, our nation is having a downturn in her economic fortunes. Why are we in this state in the first instance? Rather than answers, all we keep on hearing are propaganda and rhetoric, as well as annoying and unguarded utterances from those in leadership positions, such as Palo.

Having signed away our future for a morsel of bread, the lie that we have been living appears to have eventually caught up with us.

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015Still our leaders have failed to learn that our dreams are being destroyed by those they have given so much power and access to our wealth. It is these 'Samaritans' who have ensured that we remain perpetual parasites and impoverished dependents of an equally struggling taskmaster.

In their blind panic, our leaders are desperately looking for quick fixes and are even ready to sign away our future to those with bigger talons to suck us dry.

Without a hoot for future ramifications, they ignore the common sense dictum that says once you are funded by other people's money, either investors or international bankers, what they think is what matters, as they dictate what you can and cannot do; or what they want in exchange.

In a discussion with one of those who are latching on to the ever increasing number of aspirants for 2018, I realised that part of our problem is the peacock approach that most of those who should know better, take to the realities of our current situation.

I realised that the current hardship facing the nation is simply as a result of the fact that almost every one of us benefited from the cycle of corruption unleashed by our leaders and their cohorts, but tacitly welcomed by the generality of us. This shows how morally bankrupt we are.

Ours is a peculiar mess in need of perpetual emphasis until change comes. We may be close to the snag, but we are being held back by nonentities who live big and grow fat on what should otherwise be the commonwealth of all citizens.

The looters now own the capital, and risking it is the last thing on their minds. This is why not one of our so-called rich men has an industry or a business that can be termed a long term national asset that is of beneficial to the utmost growth of Sierra Leone.

I am not dumb not to know when slight change happens, and propagandists latch on it to massage the government's ego. However, all this propaganda about self-worth must stop. We need to see genuine change and improvement in people's lives.

People are suffering; no money; no job; no nothing; and you are massaging the egos of those whose principal job is to ensure that this does not happen.

It is this same set of oppressors, who see the downtrodden of the society as mere landscape features that must be exterminated.

There is a wide disconnect between the ruling elites and the masses, so much that even the media hasn't grasped the depth of poverty and hunger in the land and the effect of the social degradation now apparent.

Someone was complaining a few days ago about being stuck in traffic for over an hour, just because the President was going home. The trouble is, the 'Pa' had not even left his office when the roads were closed.

As a result, the 'god' of our land, who is failing to lift the bruised and battered populace, made several poor struggling people dashing around the land for survival, to miss opportunities that would have given them succour.

Well, the political class is aware that nothing guarantees bondage better than poverty. It is why the cornerstone of their governance is to ensure that the majority remain poor, hungry and battered to submission by the realities of their existence. This in turn saps them of any ability to rise up and challenge the audacity of the impunity of their leaders.

For us to move forward, we have to invest in our ability to create the future we want to see. That literally means we need to imbibe the culture of building solutions. It is because there is no political will to lead, that our leaders feed us with a diet of dust.

We need to start changing our mindset. We are in crisis because we squandered our boom at the inception of this administration.

Please let's not blame this mess on any past administration. It all started and ended with this government.

Fair enough, beyond the cacophony of blame and socio-economic and political shenanigans, it is our 'collective' stupidity that has continued to ensure that we've been engaging so much in motion without locomotion. It is our combined actions and in-actions that have brought us to this state of economic comatose that we are going through.

Rather than keep quiet and enjoy their loot, our leaders are running their mouths and misleading us with distorted stories of progress, change and buoyancy, while indulging in financial recklessness.

What temerity on our collective intelligence?

They are telling us how rosy the future is, amidst the painful economic strangulation, yet we can barely feed ourselves.

All our vital institutions have been crippled by corruption, so much that their ineffectual dexterity is a signpost of the extreme rut pervading our stunted growth.

Until we create a conducive atmosphere for investments to thrive, our youths will continue to be jobless and become agents of social and economic destruction.

Politically, the further decimation of the opposition, whose death wish is legendary, has created a void which is being filled by impunity.

Aided by a poodle legislature and a horrendously corrupt judiciary, those in power bare their fangs on the very heart of our nation; draining the blood like Dracula and oblivious (or is it uncaring) of the importance of the damage they do and the death knell they sound for our tomorrow.

Following their wanton display of greed, there are civil servants and private sector managers that have assets worth 100 times their entire career earnings.

They don't know any better and their children, having seen their parent's and leaders' model don't know any better. This is why we have the cyclical samba dance of greed and stunted growth.

Sierra Leone moving forward is dependent on the reconstruction of our national political and economic architecture; and the removal of the current system that subjugates economic development to sentiments and petty ethno-political and religious considerations, as the Kabala imbroglio has shown.

We currently practice a system that empowers corruption and guarantees bad governance, and we need to change that.

We cannot continue to trust the goodwill, good intention and integrity of the men and women we elect into political office. We must evolve and develop a system that motivates hard work, merit, good governance; and sanctions a system of political patronage and nepotism as we have now.

Our leaders promote a system that ensures that those who refuse to work, not only eat, but eat MORE than those who work.

This injustice has been our bane and the major, if not the sole reason we have been burdened with poor, nay, despicable leadership.

Sadly, we have been forced to distort our perception of reality, so much so that we, and especially those in the Diaspora, substitute our own experiences as the reality of all other compatriots.

Unfortunately, it takes a deliberate and often painful effort, to pierce the bubble wrap and actually see the bleak landscape inhabited by the masses that service our comforts and execute our needs.

But, bubble or not, we cannot hide from reality.

This is why things must change. This indeed is where our CHANGE must begin. Change will come to our nation only when we start to point out the irresponsible guys, whether past or present in our system, and fight for the entrenchment of true democratic ideals, good governance and accountability across board.

Sierra Leoneans - stand up and save your country, God has been more than kind to us. Let us fight for a system that will promote both equality and equity. Nothing will change until we are ready to address our fundamental flaws. We need to overhaul our laws where things can be done differently. Until then....

(source: Commentary; Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon, The Sierra Leone Telegraph)


Crime & commensurate punishment

Going by the factual matrix of the case reproduced by the apex court itself in a recent judgment dated September 15 in criminal appeal Nos. 1584-1585 of 2014 in Govindaswamy Vs. State of Kerala, one is constrained to conclude that the honourable court has been too lenient towards the accused/appellant in altering the death penalty to rigorous imprisonment of seven years though technical scholastic interpretation of the relevant sections of law cannot be faulted.

Briefly, the facts of the case are: the deceased/victim girl, aged about 23 years, was working in Ernakulam and was engaged to one Anoop who also happened to be employed in Ernakulam. Their betrothal ceremony was to be held in the house of the girl at Shomur on February 2, 2011. Anoop along with his family members was scheduled to visit the house of the girl on that day.

Accordingly, on February 1, 2011 the girl boarded the Ernakulam-Shumur Passenger Train at about 5.30 pm from Ernakulam Town North Railway Station to go to her home at Shomur. She had boarded the ladies division of the last compartment. There were other passengers also in the said compartment. When the train reached Mulloorkara, all other lady passengers in the said compartment had alighted and, therefore, the girl also got down along with them and hurriedly entered the ladies coach attached just in front of the last compartment.

The train reached Vallathol Nagar Railway Station, where it halted for some time. The accused/appellant, who is a habitual offender, noticed that the girl was alone in the ladies compartment. As soon as the train left Vallathol Nagar Railway Station and moved towards Shomur, the accused entered the compartment. The accused then assaulted the girl and, in fact, repeatedly hit her head on the walls of the compartment.

The deceased was crying and screaming. Then, the victim was dropped/pushed by the accused from the running train on to the track and the side of her face hit on the other side of the running train. The accused also jumped down from the other side of the running train and after lifting the victim to another place by the side of the track he sexually assaulted her. Thereafter, he ransacked her belongings and went away from the place with her mobile phone.

What is still more pathetic is the fact that the passengers travelling in the adjacent general compartment were dissuaded from pulling the chain saying that "the girl had jumped out from the train and escaped and that in these circumstances he (the fellow passenger) should not take the matter any further as the same may drag all of them to Court."

Eventually, the girl was found and admitted to the Medical College Hospital, Thrissur where she died on February 6, 2011. After a trial, the accused was convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced to death. He was additionally convicted under Section 376 of IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life. Besides he was found guilty of the offences punishable under Section 447 of the IPC for which rigorous imprisonment of 7 years and 3 months was awarded.

The conviction of the accused and the sentences imposed were confirmed by the High Court. The apex court after considering the relevant facts of the case and hearing the arguments of the lawyers of both sides, thought fit in its wisdom to substitute the charge under Section 302 IPC with that of Section 325 of the IPC and set aside the death sentence.

The gruesome rape and murder of the lonely girl travelling without an accomplice and letting the accused with a lesser punishment by the apex court would certainly raise concerns about the safety of the women in general and those travelling alone.

(source: The Hans India)


'Judicial innovation' helps SC avoid awarding death penalty

Death penalty is substituted with a "special category" of prolonged life imprisonment.

Tattu Lodhi, child rapist and murderer, cheated the noose on Friday because the Supreme Court decided to opt for a "judicial innovation" instead of the death penalty.

This judicial innovation, formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers' case in December 2015, helps "get rid of death penalty" and addresses the genuine concerns of the society to see justice done, a 3-judge Bench led by Justice J. Chelameswar observed in its recent judgment.

No remission

The innovation involves substituting death penalty with a "special category" of life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years, if not more.

This innovative approach veering away from capital punishment was formalised after the Supreme Court gave itself the authority to tweak the sentencing laws and evolve a special category of sentence in its judgment in Union of India versus Sriharan alias Murugan last year. The special category is to be limited to a "very few cases". This special category finds its first mention in the Swami Shraddananda versus State of Karnataka judgment of the Supreme Court in 2008.

The innovation, according to Justice S.K. Singh, who authored the Lodhi judgment for Justice Chelameswar's Bench, is an endeavour by the apex court to make "no party (convict or the society) a loser".

So having saved Lodhi from the hangman's rope, Justice Singh stripped him of his right to apply for release from prison on remission for the next 25 years. Thus, any hope Lodhi might have had for his release after serving the first 14 years was effectively extinguished.

The prolonged period of incarceration with no hope, Justice Singh observed, was justice enough for the rape and murder of a "defenceless child" whose body was found in a gunny bag at Lodhi's residence in 2011.

Society's concerns

"The judicial innovation bridges the gap between death sentence on the one extreme and only 14 years of actual imprisonment in the name of life imprisonment on the other... it serves a laudable purpose," the Supreme Court observed.

Law Commission of India Chairperson, Justice B.S. Chauhan, seconds the judgment's optimism, saying the Supreme Court may have indeed found an "alternative" to capital punishment .

Quoting both the Sriharan and Shraddananda verdicts, Justice Singh, in his judgment in the Tattu Lodhi case, observed that "the innovative approach, on the one hand, helps the convict get rid of death penalty in appropriate cases. On the other, it takes care of genuine concerns of the victim, including the society..."

(source: The Hindu)

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