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This is no time to retire the hangman.

THE POSSIBILITY of reform.

Have more hopeful words ever been spoken? A few lawyers defending the scum of the earth offer this argument with such zest it suggests a belief that the ghastliest of crimes in this world are but a cry of help from distressed souls. This argument was also the cornerstone of the case built by the lawyer of the three men who not only raped a nineteen- year- old, but brutalised her in every possible way.

This brings us to the question, are there really people among us who would advocate leniency for people cold- blooded enough to pour acid on a helpless person's face and mutilate their eyes with a screwdriver? The opponents of capital punishment argue, quite justifiably, that finding solace in death, even a criminal's, is a sign of the same kind of murderous vindictiveness that may have driven the said criminal.

But, like it or not, the fact remains that we live in a world where leniency is treated not as a second chance but a ticket to go about wreaking havoc. If you get caught, just play the good- old ' innate goodness of all mankind' card to get off lightly.

I don't sit in my arm- chair baying for blood, but I do believe that cold- blooded crimes of the sort several Nirbhayas have perished to, and the various others that we read about every day, need to be addressed with an iron hand.

The possibility of reform would be the foundation of the legal system in an ideal society. But in one as imperfect as ours, it sends out the message that the worst of crime is not heinous enough if you can manage to appear contrite.

There has been a strengthening wave around the world against the death penalty. Sadly enough, every now and then there emerge real- life arguments that overwhelmingly tip the scales in favour of the noose.

In our imperfect world, showing lenience to heinous criminals ends up being a licence to commit more crime

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Feb 22, 2014
Words:354
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