Against the Death Penalty

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We Oppose the Death Penalty- (Solidarity Statement)

We, concerned citizens and organisations from different walks of life and with different worldviews, are united in opposing the death penalty and demanding its repeal in India.

हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें

Though meant only for the rarest of rare crimes, the death penalty is widely being applied to an ever-increasing array of offences, so much so that presently there are more than 400 persons sentenced to death in India, some of whom are in imminent danger of execution as their mercy petitions have been rejected by the President. Mercy petitions are being rejected at an unprecedented rate. At the same time, executions and rejections of mercy petitions are being done secretly, without any scrutiny and in violation of due process.

The death penalty is objectionable for at least the following reasons:

1.The death penalty is a cruel and barbaric punishment. It inflicts inhuman suffering on the condemned and his family, while doing nothing to alleviate the loss and suffering of the victims of crime.

2.The death penalty serves no purpose. Studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter murder or protect society any more than life imprisonment.

3.The death penalty is inflicted in an arbitrary, inconsistent and unfair manner. It targets the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed, and depends more on the personal predilections of the decision maker than on the facts of the case.

4.The death penalty is irreversible and cannot be part of a system that is not error-free. Courts have repeatedly acknowledged that the death penalty has been wrongly inflicted in a large number of cases, in two of which the condemned prisoners have already been executed.

More than 70% of the world’s nations (about 150 out of 198) are abolitionist in law or practice, including most of Europe, Africa, South America and the Pacific Region, and each year the number is increasing. Many countries with lower human development indices and higher murder rates than India eschew the death penalty. India, however, still lingers in the company of authoritarian regimes that execute people in violation of international standards. The time to set this right is long overdue.

We resolve to work for the abolition of the death penalty in our respective domains of action and influence. We appeal to all concerned citizens to join this cause.

We Oppose the Death Penalty- List of Signatories

Name Designation/Affiliation
1. Aakar Patel Independent journalist
2. Aamir Bashir Actor
3. Aamir Khan Actor
4. Aashish Gupta People’s Union for Democratic Rights
5. Abbas Kazmi Lawyer
6. Abha Bhaiya Founder Member, Jagori
7. Abhijit Banerjee Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
8. Achin Vanaik Retired Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi
9. Aditya Mukherjee Professor of Contemporary History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
10. A. Ganeshamurthi Member of Parliament ( MDMK)
11. Ajay Shah National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
12. Akshay Pathak Writer
13. A. K. Shiva Kumar Development economist
14. A.K. Jayasree Professor, Academy of Medical Sciences, Kannur
15. Alyque Padamsee Theatre veteran and advertising guru
16. Amin Solkar Lawyer
17. Amita Baviskar Associate Professor, Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth
18. Amita V. Joseph Advocate
19. Amitabha Pande Former Secretary to the Government of India
20. Amitadyuti Kumar Working President, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights
21. Amitav Ghosh Writer
22. Anand Chakravarti Retired Professor, Delhi University
23. Anand Patwardhan Film-maker
24. Anand Teltumbde Writer and civil rights activist
25. André Béteille Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics
26. Angana Chatterji Cultural anthropologist
27. Angom Delhi Rose Student
28. Anita Cherian Lecturer, Indraprastha College, Delhi University
29. Anjali Dave Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
30. Anjali Modi Freelance journalist
31. Antony Arulraj Advocacy Officer, Hotline Delhi
32. Anu Aga Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
33. Anusha Rizvi Director
34. Apoorva Kaiwar Lawyer
35. Arjumand Shaheen Student
36. Arudra Burra Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
37. Aruna Roy Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
38. Arundhati Dhuru National Alliance of People’s Movements
39. Arvind Krishnaswamy Concerned citizen
40. Arvind Mohan Freelance journalist
41. Asad Zaidi Writer and publisher
42. Aseem Shrivastava I ndependent writer and economist
43. Ashim Jain Social worker
44. Ashima Kanwar Assistant Professor of English Literature, Delhi University
45. Ashish Kothari Environmental activist
46. Ashok Agrwaal Lawyer
47. Asim Bhalerao Founder, Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) Robotics
48. Aunindyo Chakravarty Senior managing editor, NDTV India
49. Babu Mathew Professor, National Law University, Delhi
50. Balaji Narsimhan Concerned citizen
51. Beena Choksi Independent education consultant
52. Bela Bhatia Independent researcher and Honorary Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
53. Bezwada Wilson National Convener, Safai Karmachari Andolan
54. Bhanwar Meghwanshi Dalit rights activist
55. Bharti Ali Haq Centre for Child Rights
56. Bindu Desai Concerned citizen
57. Binoo K. John Consultant editor, News X
58. Biraj Patnaik Principal Advisor to Supreme Court Commissioners in the Right to Food Case
59. Bondita Acharya WinG, Assam
60. Buta Sing Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab
61. Chayanika Shah Visiting faculty, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
62. Chetan Mali Advocate, Bombay High Court
63. Chidambaran K. Advocate , People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Erode District
64. Clement Kujur SJ Director, Tribal Research and Training Centre, Chaibasa
65. Colin Gonsalves Founder Director, Human Rights Law Network
66. D. Manjit People’s Union for Democratic Rights
67. Danish Hussain Actor
68. Debraj Ray Professor of Economics, New York University
69. Deep Joshi Chairman, Institute of Rural Management Anand
70. Devika Bordia Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
71. Dheeraj Pandey Coordinator, Secretariat of the Right to Food Campaign
72. Dhyanchand Carr Pastor, Church of South Asia
73. Dilip D’Souza Writer
74. Dilip Mehta Concerned citizen
75. Dilip Simeon Labour historian
76. Dinesh Mohan Volvo Chair Professor Emeritus, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
77. Dolphy D’Souza Past President, Bombay Catholic Sabha, Convenor Police Watch
78. Dunu Roy Director, Hazards Centre
79. Dyuti People’s rights activist
80. E. A. S. Sarma Former IAS officer
81. Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar Professor, United Theological College, Bangalore
82. Farah Naqvi Writer and activist
83. Flavia Agnes Co-founder, Majlis
84. Fr. Dr. Arul Raja Priest and educationist
85. G. Haragopal National Fellow, Indian Council for Social Science Research
86. G. S. Bajpai Professor, National Law University, Delhi
87. Gabriele Dietrich Independent scholar
88. Gana Kurinji People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Tamil Nadu
89. Gaurav Sinha Associate Attorney, India Law Offices
90. Gauri Gill Photographer, New Delhi
91. Gautam Babbar United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
92. Gautam Navlakha People’s Union for Democratic Rights
93. Gayatri Menon Concerned citizen
94. Ghulam Mohiyuddin Retired physician
95. Girish Karnad Writer, playwright and director
96. Gitanjali Prasad Researcher, Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi
97. Gopal Krishna Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties
98. Gurcharan Das Writer
99. Harsh Bora Lawyer, Delhi High Court
100. Harsh Kapoor South Asia Citizens Web
101. Harsh Mander Director, Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi
102. Harshan Teepee Research Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
103. Henri Tiphagne Chairman, Forum Asia
104. Himanshu Thakkar Coordinator, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People
105. Immanuel Paul Vivekanandh K Dalit and Adivasi Concerns Desk, United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India
106. Iram Ghufran Film-maker
107. Ishita Chaudhry Young People’s Foundation
108. Jacinta D’Souza Retired Principal , School of Social Work
109. Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Economics, Columbia University
110. Jagmohan Singh Coordinator, Coalition for Abolition of Death Penalty in South Asia
111. Jaitirth Rao Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MphasiS
112. Javed Akhtar Writer and lyricist
113. Jawahar Raja Lawyer, Delhi High Court
114. Jayati Ghosh Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
115. Jaykumar Menon Professor, Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University
116. Jean Drèze Honorary Professor, Delhi School of Economics
117. Jeevika Shiv Researcher, Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi
118. Joe Athialy Coordinator for South Asia, Bank Information Centre
119. John Dayal National Integration Council, Government of India
120. John VM Juliana Development Educator
121. Jose Palamootil Oommen Director, Operations Transition Network
122. Joseph Sagayaraj Roman Catholic priest
123. Josephine Fernandes Fitness instructor and feminist
124. Jyoti Punwani Independent journalist
125. Justice A.K. Ganguly Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India
126. Justice A.P. Shah Retired Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
127. Justice K. Chandru Retired Judge, Madras High Court
128. Justice Panachand Jain Former Judge, Rajasthan High Court
129. Justice Prabha Sridevan Retired Judge, Madras High Court
130. Justice Rajindar Sachar Retired Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
131. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer Retired Judge, Supreme Court
132. K. Sajaya Documentary film-maker and freelance journalist
133. K.B. Saxena Former IAS officer and Professor, Council for Social Development
134. K.P. Shankaran Associate Professor (Retired), St Stephen’s College, Delhi University
135. Kalpana Kannabiran Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
136. Kalyani Menon-Sen Feminist, Learning Partnerships
137. Kamal Mitra Chenoy Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory, Jawaharlal Nehru University
138. Kamayani Bali Mahabal Feminist and human rights activist
139. Kamini Jaiswal Lawyer, Supreme Court of India
140. Kamla Bhasin Women’s rights activist
141. Kannamma Raman Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai
142. Karan Thapar Television commentator
143. Kareem Sait Concerned citizen
144. Karna Basu Associate Professor, Hunter College, City University of New York
145. Kaveri Gill Independent academic
146. Kavita Punjabi Professor, Comparative Literature, Jadhavpur University
147. Kavita Srivastava People’s Union for Civil Liberties
148. Keerthik Sasidharan Risk manager (Société Générale) and columnist
149. Khan Abdul Wahab Lawyer, Bombay High Court
150. Kiran Bhatty Senior Fellow, Center for Policy Research
151. Kranthi Chaitanya Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee
152. Krinna Shah Child rights activist
153. Kuldip Nayar Senior journalist
154. Kumar Rajesh Sub-editor, Jansatta
155. Lawrence Liang Alternative Law Forum
156. Laxmi Murthy Consulting Editor, Himal Southasian
157. M.S. Swaminathan Agricultural scientist
158. Madhav Thambisetty National Institute of Health, Washington
159. Maharukh Adenwalla Lawyer, Bombay High Court
160. Mahmood Farooqui Actor and writer
161. Maja Daruwalla Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
162. Mallika Sarabhai Classical cancer and Director, Darpana
163. Manisha Gupta Women’s health rights activist
164. Manisha Sethi President, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association
165. Mary E. John Professor, Centre for Women’s Development Studies
166. Mathew Jacob Human Rights Law Network
167. Mayank Misra Lawyer, Supreme Court of India
168. Medha Patkar National Alliance of People’s Movements
169. Meena Kandasamy Poet
170. Meena Saraswathi Seshu General Secretary, Sampada Gramin Mahila Sanstha
171. Meenal Baghel Journalist
172. Meghna Versikar Assistant Professor, College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai
173. Michael Noronha Dean, Academics, Mount Carmel Institute of Management, Bangalore
174. Mohammad Imran Concerned citizen
175. Mohammed Mozayan Manager, On Trade, Carlsberg India Private Limited
176. Mridula Mukherjee Professor, Modern Indian History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
177. Mukesh Malik Film-maker
178. Mukul Kesavan Associate Professor, Department of History, Jamia Millia Islamia Central University
179. Mukul Mahant Social activist
180. N. Bhattacharyya Teacher (Retired), Delhi University
181. N. Jayaram Independent journalist
182. N. R. Narayana Murthy Founder, Infosys
183. Nachiket Udupa Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
184. Nandan Maluste Businessman and activist
185. Nandana Sen Actor and writer
186. Nandini Sundar Professor, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics
187. Nandita Das Actor
188. Naresh Fernandes Writer
189. Navkiran Singh Human Rights Lawyer
190. Neel Mukherjee Writer
191. Neha Choksi Artist
192. Ness Wadia Wadia Group of Industries
193. Nikhil Dey Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
194. Nikhil Kumar PR professional
195. Nirmalangshu Mukherji Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi
196. Nisha Biswas Scientist and activist
197. O. P. Jain Founder, Sanskriti Foundation
198. P.B.M. Basaiawmoit Member, Executive Committee, Presbyterian Church of India
199. Paari Vendhan Advocate, Supreme Court of India
200. Padma Deosthali Centre for Enquiry Into Health and Allied Themes
201. Pamela Philipose Senior journalist
202. Panini Anand Journalist, Outlook
203. Pankaj Mishra Writer
204. Paribartana Mohanty Artist
205. Parmindar Singh Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab
206. Paul Siromoni Founding Member, Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Science
207. Phulendro Konsam Committee on Human Rights, Manipur
208. Poonam Muttreja Executive Director, Population Foundation of India
209. Pouru Wadia Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action
210. Prabhat Patnaik Professor Emeritus, Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
211. Praful Bidwai Columnist and writer
212. Pralay Kanungo Professor, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University
213. Prashant Kidambi Senior Lecturer, Urban History, University of Leicester
214. Pratiksha Baxi Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
215. Pritam Bhatty Artist
216. Prita Jha Peace and Equity Cell, Gujarat
217. Pulin Nayak Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics
218. Rafiul Alom Rahman Student, Delhi University
219. Rahul Roy Film-maker
220. Rajashri Dasgupta Independent journalist
221. Rajesh Sanghi Sah and Sanghi Automobiles
222. Ramani Atkuri Public health physician
223. Ramachandra Guha Historian
224. Rammanohar Reddy Editor, Economic and Political Weekly
225. Ranjana Padhi Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
226. Rashmi Gera Documentary film-maker
227. Rashmi Munikempanna Artist
228. Ravikumar Stephen Foundation for Action Based Learning and Research
229. Ravinder Kaur Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
230. Rebecca John Senior Advocate, Delhi High Court
231. Reena Mary George PhD student
232. Reetika Khera Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
233. Revati Laul Journalist
234. Richa Minocha Social activist
235. Rimple Mehta Assistant Professor, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University
236. Roger Gaikwad General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India
237. Rohini Hensman Independent scholar and activist
238. Rohini Pande Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University
239. Ruchi Gupta Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
240. Runu Chakraborty Founder Member, Jagori
241. S. Anandalakshmy Writer and former Professor, Lady Irwin College
242. S. J. A. Packiaraj Head of Department of English (Retired), Loyola College, Chennai
243. Sadhnay Arya Associate Professor, Satyavati College
244. Sagari R Ramdas Independent scholar
245. Salar M. Khan Lawyer
246. Sameer Murthy Physicist
247. Sameer Sain Everstone Capital
248. Samina Mishra Film-maker and writer
249. Sandeep Pandey Socialist Party
250. Sandhya Gokhale Forum Against Oppression of Women
251. Sashwati Mishra Tata Institute of Social Sciences
252. Saumya Bahuguna Child Protection Officer, Prerana
253. Shabana Azmi Actor
254. Shabana Kazi General Secretary, Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad
255. Shankar Raman Cinematographer
256. Shantha Sinha Professor, Political Science, Hyderabad Central University
257. Sharmila Tagore Actor
258. Shekhar Singh Right to information activist
259. Shivam Vij Independent journalist
260. Shohini Ghosh Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia
261. Shoma Chaudhury Journalist
262. Shraddha Chickerur Project coordinator, Society for Social Uplift through Rural Action
263. Shyam Benegal Film-maker
264. Siddhartha Dev Financial Services
265. Siddhartha Narain Alternative Law Forum
266. Simin Lakhani Writer and entrepreneur
267. Simpreet Singh Slum rehabilitation activist
268. Sister Clara BS Clergy
269. Sohail Akbar Associate Professor, Photography, Jamia Millia Islamia Central University
270. Sohail Hashmi Writer, documentary film-maker
271. Somnath Mukherji Social activist
272. Sona Jain Film-maker and writer
273. Suchi Pande Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
274. Sudha Bharadwaj Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha
275. Suhda Varghese Nari Gunjan, Patna
276. Sujato Bhadra Professor, Department of History, University of Calcutta
277. Sukla Sen Committee for Communal Amity, Mumbai
278. Sukumar Muralidharan Freelance journalist
279. Sumi Krishna Independent scholar
280. Sumit Sarkar Former Professor of History, Delhi University
281. Sunil Kaul Action Northeast Trust
282. Sunny Sebastian Vice-Chancellor, Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication
283. Surabhi Chopra Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law , Chinese University of Hong Kong
284. Surjit Bhalla Economist
285. Suroor Mander Advocate and human rights activist
286. Susan Abraham Lawyer
287. Swami Agnivesh Founder, World Council of Arya Samaj
288. Swaminathan S.A. Aiyar Consulting Editor, Economic Times
289. Tanika Sarkar Professor, Department of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
290. Tapas Chakraborty Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal
291. Tara Chambers Musician
292. Tarun Bhartiya Poet and film-maker
293. Tarun Tejpal Journalist
294. Therese Meera Mathew Social activist
295. Tridip Suhrud Social scientist
296. Uma Chakravarti Historian
297. Upendra Baxi Emeritus Professor, University of Warwick
298. Usha Rai Journalist
299. Usha Ramanathan Independent scholar
300. V. Venkatesan Journalist, Frontline
301. Vaiko General Secretary, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK)
302. Vasanth Kannabiran Writer and social activist
303. Ved Kumari Professor of Law, University of Delhi
304. Veena Gowda Women rights lawyer
305. Vidula Ramaba Forum Against Oppression of Women
306. Vijay Hiremath Lawyer, Bombay High Court
307. Vijay Raghavan Chairperson, Centre for Criminology and Justice, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
308. Vijayesh Lal Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission
309. Vikram Seth Writer
310. Vikram Vyas Professor, Department of Physics, Shiv Nadar University
311. Vineeta Bal Scientist
312. Vinod Mehta Editor, Outlook
313. Vinod Subramanian Sound designer
314. Virginia Saldhanha Feminist writer and activist
315. Vivek Sundara Justice and Peace For All
316. Vrinda Grover Human rights lawyer
317. Walter Fernandes Director of Research, Animation and Resource Centre, Myanmar
318. Xavier Jayaraj SJ Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat, Jesuit Curia, Rome
319. Xavier John Bosco Citra, Jesuit Social Centre
320. Yug Mohit Chaudhry Lawyer, Bombay High Court
321. Zia ul Haq Social activist and freedom fighter, Allahabad
322. Zoya Hasan Professor of Political Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University
323. Zubin Bharucha Cricket coach

Amartya Sen’s statement opposing death penalty

To all those interested in the issue of capital punishment

I am delighted to see the solidarity statement in opposition to the death penalty. Since I have been committed to the abolition of the death penalty throughout my life, I am very happy to add my voice to those of others who want the repeal of this terrible legal provision. I do not sign joint statements as a general rule, and hence this separate letter affirming my own opposition to the death penalty.

The solidarity statement already captures four of the main arguments for abolition: (1) that the death penalty is a barbaric and cruel punishment; (2) that its efficacy in preventing murder and other crimes is fictitious; (3) the use of death penalty tends to be biased and unequal over different segments of a population; and (4) all punitive systems can make errors, and the irreversibility of the death penalty does not allow any correction of mistakes.

To these four weighty arguments can be added a fifth: any attempt to remedy the harm done by the taking of one life through taking another life encourages bad – indeed dangerous – moral reasoning. The approach of death penalty is foundationally misconceived.

Amartya Sen
19th August 2013

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