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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nation has strained to provide justice to Kasab - when will it do to the victims ?


Have you heard of  Sir William Blackstone – an eminent English Jurist, Judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century.

There are some who fear the society and would delay every action of theirs thinking what others would think of thyself ! – India exhibits itself to be a group of such people – it sought to ensure that the perpetrator of the most heinous crime against the Nation was given all the benefits, and arranged for defence who cited his age for leniency – after expending crores of Rupees and excruciatingly slow and painful months, Justice at last seems to have been delivered by the Highest Court – the Supreme Court of India – all after the Govt spent from its coffers, the cost of keeping Ajmal Kasab alive through interrogations, jail terms, sentences, appeals and counter appeals.  Now the legal process has culminated as the Apex Court upheld the death sentence.

Now there is some unnecessary debate on what the next step should be – whether the culprit would file a mercy petition and how long it would take for that to be decided and whether it has to follow the order of the 21 others waiting for decision.  The first question is – Why ?  -  Why should a mercy petition at all be entertained ?  It should be a route whereby some who had committed a murder or crime in a fit of rage and who otherwise deserve to be reviewed be allowed – should that route be made available to all and if so, what is the purpose of Courts and Appeals and the decisions by such bodies.  Has there not been enough evidence and is not the decision of final Appellate authority final and binding……

Before Kasab, those waiting includes Balwant Singh Rajaona, convicted for the murder of former Punjab, Rajiv Gandhi killers and Afzal Guru, the Parliament attacker. Afzal Guru was ordered to be hanged on October 20, 2006, but his wife filed the mercy plea and it has been in abeyance ever since.  Rajiv Gandhi’s gory murder occurred on 21st May 1991; the Supreme Court affirmed their sentence; President Pratibha Patil rejected the clemency petitions of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan - killers of Rajiv Gandhi whose death sentences were confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000.  The Home Ministry had sent its opinion on June 21, 2005 which was called back for review on February 23, 2011 and was re-submitted to the President on March 8 this year.  When will the President decide ?

Ahead of Thursday’s meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari, India today said it was sure that Pakistan would not fail to take note of the Supreme Court verdict upholding the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist in the 26/11 attacks.  Asserting that the issue of terrorism was of concern to the international community, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said the entire gamut of bilateral ties will be discussed during the Indo-Pak talks, implying that terror will be the prime focus during the parleys.  Asserting that India has provided enough evidence to show involvement of not only non-state actors but also of official hierarchy in 26/11 attacks, government sources said Singh will raise the issue of terrorism, which is of prime concern to the country, with Zardari, who is arriving in Tehran on Thursday to participate in the 16th NAM summit.

India recently alleged that the exodus and trouble after Assam riots were created by hate SMSs emanating from Pakistan and quite strangely faltered to provide any concrete evidence. Worser, there are dissenting voices.  Pakistan  expressed disappointment with India's allegation that more than a quarter of the hate SMSs and inflammatory online content against the north-eastern people in the wake of the Assam violence had originated from Pakistan. Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar sounded condescending: 'We need to find a more mature way to handle all these issues because they will emerge and continue to haunt us.

In a departure from the earlier high pitch, External affairs minister S.M. Krishna, who is also in Tehran to attend the summit, told journalists that while the issue of hate mails had led to a lot of commotion, it would be raised at an 'appropriate level'. Sources in the MEA said the home ministry was yet to share evidence or 'even a single page' with them.

Now after making wild assertions and trying to exhibit the foreign hand behind the internal trouble, the PMO and MEA are trying to soften up as a prelude to a possible visit by Manmohan to the neighbouring country.  While one Ministry accused Pakistan, the Home Secretary is giving a clan chit to the Pak and its agencies – claiming that they never spoke of them as behind posting the morphed pictures… Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was also at a loss of words to explain the developments, only saying that there is 'some evidence' which will be shared with Pakistan at an appropriate time.  The Govt falters on every count and puts the Nation to shame…..

Sure you have heard this in many Court scenes in movies – that ‘criminals can be allowed to escape – but not a single innocent person should be punished’.  In criminal law, Blackstone's formulation is the principle: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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