Can you even imagine the dilemma a judge faces when he has to decide whether to give the death sentence to an individual? The life of another individual is in your hands. You will decide whether he dies or lives to see another day. I can't ever imagine myself being in such a place. Whenever i hear or read about a gruesome,brutal murder, somewhere inside i feel ,god, does this person who has taken away the life of another so brutally really deserve to live? What about the family of the victim? Would it make it any better for them if he dies? This feeling of retribution in some sort of way is what defines the pro-death penalty arguments. But even if he doesn't deserve to live, who am I to take his life? Does every individual deserve a chance to reform and live ? What about people who kill members of their own family for property, people who rape and murder a 2 year old child, people who burn a man alive just because he belongs to another religion? What kind of thinking do they have, how does their mind work? Can we really change their thinking? Can they be reformed? Do they deserve to live? I am unable to go on either side. One part of me says that someone who commits such a heinous crime has to be punished. Be it for the proportionality of crime with punishment, or with a view to act as a deterrant for others or in some way to avenge and assuage the feelings of the wronged party. What kind of sick person would do such acts? But the other side of me comes up with a lot of questions. Death penalty is irrevocable, what if it was given to an innocent man? Wouldn't that be a bigger crime than any other. Where the whole judicial system would be accused of murder. When a man doesn't have the right to take his own life, afterall suicide is still illegal in India, can the State claim this right? What about the family of this person? What crime have they committed? If the state is taking the life of a person, shouldn't it also have the responsibility to take care of his family? And if he's really so sick in the mind, is it really his fault that he's done this act?
The Supreme Court says death penalty can only be given in the rarest of rare cases. They even have some guidelines for what is 'rarest of rare'. But inspite of all this at the end of the day, it's the judge's own subjective views on what is rare, his own sensibilities which would decide the fate of a man. One judge might convict a person and punish it with death and the other might even acquit him. It does happen in so many cases that the trial court convicts, High Court acquits, Supreme Court aqcuits again.Then there are cases where similar situations would give rise to different decisions. Dhananjoy was sentenced to death but a man who raped and killed a 1 and half year old daughter of his neighbour was not. In my view this man deserved an even more severe punishment.And again... does he deserve to live?
There is also this argument about human dignity and how civilised societies cannot carry on the 'eye for and eye' kind of punishment. But then it is the murderer who violates human dignity in the first place,isn't it?
The arguments, the questions don't end. I don't know how the debate on capital punishment would ever end. Right now, all I know is I don't think I'd ever want to be in the chair of that judge.