On a December night in Delhi, a girl so-named ‘Nirbhaya’ and her friend were returning after watching a late movie show from a movie theatre, they were waiting for a bus. One of the culprits convinced them to get on an empty bus with tinted windows. They were assaulted by six males, one of whom was a minor, aged 17. The friend of Nirbhaya, when tried to protect Nirbhaya, was beaten up by them. Nirbhaya was not just sexually violated; her body was mutilated beyond human imagination. Her intestines were pulled out, and private parts mutilated. She later died of multiple organ failure, internal bleeding and cardiac arrest on the 29th of December.
Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948 & Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966 provides that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Capital Punishment has been recognized as a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which infringes on the basic human rights of the accused as expressed in Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for the right to life, liberty, and security of human beings.
As many of the Human Rights Activists quoted that “The death penalty has no place in the 21st century” But There are still 50 countries or more which allow death penalty including India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, the US, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Iraq, Indonesia, UAE and so on.
The Death Penalty Information Center which is a non-profit organization of the US stated that there are 146 countries which totally abolished it in law and practice as well.
There was an International step taken by united nation organization on 3rd of May 2002, the thirteenth protocol to the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was open for the signature of member countries for the abolition of death sentences in all circumstances.
The Executive Director of Amnesty International India named Avinash Kumar said that the death penalty is never the solution to stop these kinds of crimes & improve the lives of women in India. He also remarked it as a dark stain to India’s human rights record.
The Amnesty International suggested the government of India to immediately establish a moratorium on executions and commute all death sentences, as a first critical step towards abolishing the ultimate cruelty, inhuman and degrading punishment. But in India, the death penalty is exercised only in the rarest of the rare cases when the crime committed is so grave that it outrages the conscience of the whole society and that’s why opposed the UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty.
The United Nations Secretary-General has also mentioned in his reports on the moratorium on the death penalty that the decisions taken by the Supreme Court of India have also tried to limit the awarding of the death penalty in cases and also to protect the rights of those who have been sentenced to death.
He also made reference to the 262nd Law Commission Report that “The Law Commission in its 262nd Report has called for the abolishment of the death penalty in all cases except for those relating to terror cases.”
The Executive Director of Amnesty International India, Mr Avinash Kumar also made reference to the Justice Verma Committee which was formed after Nirbhaya Rape and Murder case ‘to reform laws on sexual assault and rape’ named – The Justice Verma Committee had also opposed imposing the death penalty in cases of rape.
The International Commission of Jurists denounced the execution of Death Penalty by reference to the International Humanitarian Law and said that it will not improve the lives & access to justice for women”.
The Asia-Pacific Director of International Court of Justice named Mr Frederick Rawski had also mentioned that the Death penalty has no such deterrent effect to our Society and it does nothing to improve the lives of women.
Meanwhile, An activist named Mr A. Rajarajan approached to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for seeking its intervention to ensure that the human rights of the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case convicts and their families are not violated & made representation regarding his petition before the NHRC and alleged that the act of keeping the convicts in solitary confinement and constant fear of death and proceeding with the execution procedures were apparent violations of fundamental and human rights of the convicts.
In Response of all these, parents of Nirbhaya commented that international human rights bodies are more interested in protecting convicts than upholding rights of victims and their families and now lost their faith in human rights organizations.
Former Supreme Court Judge Mr Justice BN Srikrishna had also commented that Human rights commissions could intervene if there is a denial of natural justice. But in this case, the entire process of proper hearings right from the trial court, high court to the Supreme Court was carried out and so many review petitions and curative petitions have been filed by all the convicts in the apex court. Hence, there was no ground of intervention by any of the Human Rights Bodies.
International Rights Bodies like The International Commission of Jurists, the Amnesty International and many other International big personalities connected to these bodies condemn the Execution of Death Penalty to four convicted in Nirbhaya Case with reference to International Laws, Committees & Law commission reports and said ‘Death Penalty Does Nothing to Improve Lives of Women’