‘Mercy pleas pendency had social, economic bias’
New Delhi: Pendency of several cases related to capital punishment in Rashtrapati Bhavan is one "inherited task" that no President would feel happy about, according to former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
"I thought I should get all these cases examined from a normal citizen's point of view in terms of the crime, intensity of the crime and the social and financial status of the individuals who were convicted and awarded capital punishment," Kalam writes in his soon-to-be-released book "Turning Points" against the backdrop of the demand for early hanging of convicts like Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab.
Kalam says the study revealed to his surprise that almost all pending cases "had a social and economic bias", giving an impression that "we were punishing the person who was least involved in the enmity and who did not have a direct motive for committing the crime".
According to Kalam, deciding on the issue of confirming capital punishment awarded by courts after exhausting all processes of appeals was one of the more difficult tasks for him as President.
"As a substantial number of cases have been pending in Rashtrapati Bhavan for many years, it is one inherited task that no President would feel happy about," he writes.
"Of course there was one case where I found that the lift operator (Dhananjoy Chatterjee) had in fact committed the crime of raping and killing the girl without doubt. In that case I affirmed the sentence."
Chatterjee, sentenced to death for raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl in Kolkata in 1990, was hanged on August 14, 2004.
Kalam feels that while courts are hearing the capital punishment cases they should "alert the law-enforcing authorities to intelligently find out the source of sustenance of the individual who is being punished and of his family".
This kind of analysis, he thinks, may lead to the real person and the motive which has led to the crime.
"We are all the creations of God. I am not sure a human system or a human being is competent to take away a life based on artificial and created evidence."