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Activists call for a zero-tolerance culture

Legal experts cautious on calling for death penalty

Gulf News

New Delhi

Vice-President Hamid Ansari today (Monday) sought immediate steps for comprehensive corrective measures in laws and social behaviour.

Addressing the National Cadet Corps Republic Day Camp, he described the gruesome Delhi gang rape as an incident that makes us “hang our heads in shame”, he said, one must remember that full respect for human rights, inclusive of gender, are prerequisites of a modern and progressive society.

Even as there was drama with lawyers objecting to the presence of an advocate to defend the accused, when they were produced in the court, Supreme Court lawyer Akhil Sibal spoke to Gulf News in a cautious tone.

On the kind of punishment the five accused should get, he said: “It is for the court to decide. We should not pronounce judgment prematurely. First there has to be conviction, even if we believe that that conviction must come automatically. There is a process and procedure, which nobody should suggest, be given the go by.”

Justifying that the public should keep the pressure on by way of protests, he felt it should be done without trying to influence the trial.

“The person should not get the punishment that we think is right. The punishment should come from the person who hears the case and who goes through all the evidence.”

Commenting on the new proposed law that could set a precedent to deter people from committing similar crimes, he said: “A law cannot be made for one case. It is made to apply to the instances in future, which may be of varied kinds.

“We need to see whether the root of the problem lies in weakness of the laws and what they prescribe or whether the weakness lies in implementation and policing. If it is the latter, then that’s where we should focus.”

Following the gang-rape of the 23-year-old paramedic student in a moving bus on December 16, there have been wide spread protests to hang all the six men accused of raping and murdering the young girl.

But Taslima Nasreen says, “I am against death penalty. The rapists should get life imprisonment.”

On what the new proposed law should say, Nasreen commented: “An offence like rape should become non-bailable.”

It has been reported that the juvenile involved in the crime, was apparently the most violent on the attack that led the victim’s death. And for that, experts says, he should face trial as an adult.

But Nasreen has a different line of thought. She said, “I prefer to put criminals, adult or juvenile, into a prison-cum-reformation centre. They need to cure their patriarchal misogynistic behaviour, their masculine superiority delusion and their megalomaniac machismo.”

Sibal too considered “justice and rehabilitation” for criminals, saying: “We need to first see if harsher punishment can have a deterrent effect.”