Death for rapists – What about Thou shalt not kill?

Editorial in the Statesman,  April 24, 2018


James kottoorYou should not pour petrol into devastating fire, but water, possibly to douse it. The Centre seems to have done just that to stem the fury of protests against child rape engulfing the whole nation. Nothing more than pacifying an angry voters, just  a knee-jerk reaction! 


Apart from all these, just think of Death  penalty itself. “Thou shalt not kill.” is the first question that jumps to mind, not because it is a Christian or Biblical teaching. It is deep-rooted in the psyche of the general public. As a result the vast majority of civilized countries (US is taken as the top military nation, not the civilized one, these days) have absolished ‘Death penalty’.

         One of the prime reasons  of any punishment is to correct the wrong doer. How will  you correct a dead wrong doer? The alternative is life imprisonment, if one is incorrigible humanly speaking. But the truth is every saint, at least most, has a bloody past and every sinner has a bright future to turn a good leaf.

        How will you call India? Civilized or barbaric? Besides child rape mostly happen in family circle by relations. If death penalty is the threat, who will ever report it to the police to get one of the family members hanged? After Nirbhya incident how many were hanged in India although   in 2017 alone more than 100 people were sentenced to death? None!

             So what is needed is not more laws, or stringent laws to fool the public, but few laws that are implemented. Less government and more governance.  james kottoor, editor ccv.

Please read below the editorial in the Kolkata Statesman


Cabinet approval of death penalty for rape of girls below 12 years is just a knee-jerk reaction by the government to growing public anger at the way it handled the Kathua and Unnao child rape cases. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance provides for minimum jail term of 20 years or life imprisonment or death for rape of girls below 12 years of age.

For the crime of rape of a girl under 16, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which can be extended to imprisonment for life. Minimum punishment for rape of a woman has been increased from seven years’ rigorous imprisonment to 10 years, which can also be extended to imprisonment for life.

There will be no anticipatory bail for persons accused of rape or gang rape. The Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and the Indian Evidence Act would have to be amended to bring about these drastic changes in punishment.

The committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of India, with Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, and Gopal Subramaniam, former Solicitor-General of India, formed in the wake of the gang rape and brutal murder of Nirbhaya in Delhi in 2012, ruled out capital punishment even in the rarest of rare rape case, saying “the deterrent effect of death penalty on serious crimes is a myth.”


Even if rapists are sentenced to death, there is no guarantee they will be executed. After 30 July 2015 no one has been hanged in India although in 2017 alone more than 100 people were sentenced to death.

In most child sexual assault cases the offences are committed by people known to the victims or those within the family. Death penalty can turn out to be a deterrent from filing complaints and lead to hushing up the crimes.

Criminologists and women’s rights groups have maintained that the answer to sexual crimes against children is strengthening of the investigation process and prosecution so that perpetrators are convicted expeditiously. It is often refusal of the police to register complaints that result in culprits going scot-free.

Ten months after the young girl in Unnao was raped by an influential BJP MLA and two weeks after her attempt to commit suicide to protest failure of the police to act, it was an order of the Allahabad High Court that prodded the police to act. Even after the arrest, the BJP, party in power in Uttar Pradesh, has failed to suspend the MLA from the Assembly pending investigation. It sends a wrong message to the prosecuting agency. The male-dominated higher judiciary is equally responsible for the cavalier attitude towards rapists.

The Supreme Court recently acquitted a man whose conviction of rape was upheld by the High Court. Even though the woman said ‘no’ to the rapist, the honourable court found it a ‘feeble no’ and set him free. Is this the kind of justice system we want?


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1 Response

  1. Isaac Gomes says:


    The argument in the Statesman report that in most child sexual assault cases the offences are committed by people known to the victims or those within the family and therefore death penalty can turn out to be a deterrent from filing complaints and lead to hushing up the crimes, is quite baffling.  Does it mean just because most of the rapes are committed by members of friends or family circle, the rate of reporting would go up if there were no Death Penalty for committing rape? Does it mean the girl or woman who has been raped would have the same love and compassion for the rapist just because the rapist happens to be from her relatives or friends circle? Or the punishment should be less just because the rapist is the hapless victim's father, uncle, relative or friend?  Or just because the "NO" of the victim was not emphatic enough which very surprisingly Supreme Court of India opined as per the report?  In fact death penalty would act as a great deterrant to rape, for for this there should be more women judges to restore sanity in the society from the top judicial level.  An easier option deliberately overlooked by the Government to score brownie points, would have been the middle path,  which is Medical Surgery (castration) of the rapist as recommended by Dr Subranian Swamy of BJP.  In that case both Biblical spirit of life and "correcting the wrong-doer" for life (as propounded by Dr Kottoor) can be maintained.

    strengthening of the investigation process and prosecution so that perpetrators are convicted expeditiously is in most cases very difficult, when the accused happen to be from the ruling party (as happened in the case MLA Kuldeep Sengar who was booked not by the government, but only when the Allhabad High Court passed an arrest order. Even now he has has not been barred from the U.P. Legislature).

    If there is no death penalty or castration, then the jails would be infested with vermins (rapists) who have to be well-fed and care for "correcting the wrong-doer" (as propagated by Dr Kottoor) at the tax-payers' money, rekindling 24×7 in the minds of the victims the nightmarish memory that the rapists are still alive and undergoing the so-called reform!

    Dr Kottoor's claim that Dealth Penalty has been abolished in the United States of America is partially correct.  A fact check reveals that  death penalty is legal in 31 states and illegal in 19 states (and DC). The "legal" and "illegal" designations in the "Death Penalty Status" column are based on the US Department of Justice's "Capital Punishment" reports.

    (CNN) Here's a look at the death penalty in the United States. Facts: As of August 2017, capital punishment is legal in 31 US states.


    31 states in the USA have the death penalty


    Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming.

    In Texas death chamber in Huntsville, is where death row inmates are executed by lethal injection.

    19 States and DC have abolished the death penalty

    Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin

    Please refer to the website (last updated 28 March 2018) below:




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