Thursday, February 21, 2013

Editorial, 'CALAMITOUS CONSEQUENCES' in 15 February 2013, Vol. 9, Part 1, No. 3 issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD


are most likely to happen after, if not sure to forthwith follow, the tragic end of Afzal Guru. Earlier, we had pleaded for the commutation of his death penalty not only on humanitarian grounds but also for reasons of prudent statecraft. The manner in which his hanging was done, especially with the 24 hours prior intimation not given, and his near and dear not informed in advance for a last interview, strikes all the more abhorrent in the face of the exemplary conduct of the condemned prisoner vouchsafed by the Tihar Jail personnel and co-prisoners. As far back as in 2006 [see our editorial in LAW, 31-08-2011] we counseled moderation in regard to Afzal Guru not only per se but also in the context of our Indian Sarabjit Singh on the death row in a Pakistani prison, suggesting that “by statesmanlike conduct … an amicable settlement be arrived at so that ultimately the sentences on both [Afzal Guru and Sarabjit] be commuted first and later both of them be exchanged and thus set at liberty.” We also stressed that Afzal Guru’s sentence should be commuted as a gesture of political goodwill towards Kashmiri Muslims who are almost in one voice demanding the same. Even our Apex Court, strangely contrary to its own guidelines that even if aggravating circumstances are there for imposition of death penalty, mitigating factors must be taken into account, and the holistic consideration of ‘crime and criminal’ in a reformative perspective should guide the courts, has set a wrong judicial precedent by talking about the need to satisfy “the collective conscience of the society” in this case. In Kashmir valley we have only the peace of the graveyard now and it is anybody’s guess when ‘the ghosts’ will spring up and death-dance in all fury there. But we snapped the psychological binding cord with this single blunder and Yasin Malik of JKLF protesting along with Hafiz Sayeed of LeT in Islamabad is but a pointer to this. Moreover, if Sarabjit Singh is hanged in Pakistan due to like pressures of their ‘collective conscience’, it can/will alienate the Sikh psyche in India also and we will be placed in the grave danger of yet another spurt of Khalistani terrorism. Looking anyway, the execution is totally unwise and fraught with deleterious effects to our country. §§§