Retired Supreme Court Justice Kuldip Singh
Chandigarh, Apr 22 (Bureau Report) Eminent jurists, academicians, farmer leaders and social activists gathered at a conference here urged the Punjab government to launch a countrywide campaign against the capital punishment and pressurize the centre for abolishing the hanging from the statute book beginning with adoption of a resolution in the state assembly to that effect.
Speaking at the seminar on “Hanging- a Punishment or Legal murder” organized by BKU (Sidhupur) ,The Punjab Manch and Internationalist Democratic Party (IDP) at Kisan Bhawan Supreme Court retired Justice Kuldip Singh said the capital punishment had not proved a deterrent against the crime as in USA and China which have been sending the culprits to gallows. Rather these countries had witnessed enhancement in the crimes. Besides, it has been found out later on that innocents were often sentenced to death. He said an inquiry into the cases of hanging in the Britain brought out a crude truth that as many as 123 innocents were hanged to death through the legal process. Justice Singh said if the judicial process could be faulty in the USA and Britain then chances of innocents sending to gallows in India are very much there keeping in view the manner of the police preparing the cases and fitting in the witnesses for that. All police process is never been beyond the areas of suspect. Justice Singh said a movement against the capital punishment has cropped up world over and it would not stay on the statute book now.
Justice Ajit Singh Bains, a retired Punjab and Haryana High Court judge said no human being is criminal by birth but the situations, invariably, force him/ her to commit violence. Minorities and the deprived people in the country are not getting social, political and economic justice, rather they were being targeted to satiate the repressed mindset of the ruling elite.
Khalra Mission leader Dalbir Singh observed that Chief Minister P.S Badal efforts to stall the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana had left the issue of capital punishment half-way and unresolved since he was more interested in reaping the political dividends by projecting himself as a champion of the Sikh cause.
IDP president I D Khajuria said the hanging of the culprit is not a judicial but a political decision since the convict sentenced to death by the court, cannot be executed unless until the Home Ministry or state home department gives green signal to go ahead. Hence, all political parties, social and political activists should come forwards and mobilize public opinion for getting the capital punishment abolished. Senior journalist Hamir Singh said since the Tamil Nadu assembly had already taken the lead by adopting resolution for clemency to Nalini and two others , convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Punjab assembly should not refrain from adopting such a resolution against the capital punishment.
Movement Against State Repression (MASR) leader and former MLA Inderjit Singh Jeji said by refusing to appeal for remission of capital punishment and confessing his involvement in the assassination, Rajoana has raised an issue of ‘political morality’ which had never been above board and denying social and economic justice to the minorities and the unprivileged people. Unprecedented protests demonstrated by the people in Punjab and outside against Rajoana hanging had questioned the veracity of the very act of legal execution.
Former Vice Chairman of National Commission for Minorities, Prof Bawa Singh said Rajoana clearly manifests a minority community’s perturbed psyche against the real or perceived excesses by a majority controlled State where the history is witness to the facts that political parties hardly refrained from playing communal card for political ends. The Rajoana case also exemplifies that the minorities in the country strongly feel that they are being denied political, economic, social and legal justice and its redressing is must for a healthy democratic set-up.
Punab Manch leader Malvinver Singh Malli and other speakers, unanimously urged the central government that India should become signatory to the UNO resolution to be adopted at the coming December meet to end the capital punishment world over and till then there should a moratorium on all pending executions. Already 402 convicts have been sentenced to death by various courts in the country and 26 such cases including that of Afzal Guru, Devinderpal Singh Bhullar pending for the Presidential clemency.
Farmers leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said it had been proved world over that death sentence no way could lessen the crime in any society which invariably is the product of denial of social, political and economic justice perpetrated by the undemocratic practices of a ruling political establishments. BKU (Sidhupur) president Pishora Singh said as many as 97 countries have abolished capital punishment completely, 34 countries refrained from executing the convicts for past ten years. India is one of 57 countries yet to abolish the hanging.
Noted lawyer Amar Singh Chahal, senior journalist Jaspal Singh Sidhu, Punjab state CPI(ML- Liberation) leader Kamaljit Singh. Prof Lal Singh and BKU leader Mehar Singh Their and advocate Krishan Kumar Kakkar also spoke.