Wednesday, October 19, 2005

C a p i t a l P u n i s h m e n t

The one who cannot give life cannot take it away !

It appeared in today's news that our soon to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court intends to abolish death penalty. This could be reduced to life imprisonment.

This would be a brave move for India. It shows our respect for the human mind and its ability to learn, to repent and to understand.

I have read recently on Wikipedia that there are two types of societies - the ones which value honor and the ones which value law. As India gets culturally rejuvenated and its populace get educated, we will be moving into the second type of society. It is indeed a welcome move.

But I do not think life imprisonment is a substitute. My views are heavily influenced by Richard Dawkins and his amazing book.

The basic aim of life is to reproduce - to replicate its genes. This explains several phenomenon in nature - including why death in old age is common where as pre-mature death is uncommon. The genes which try to kill the individual before she reproduces will not survive through evolution.

The entire multitude of human emotions can be traced to the principle of replication of genes - to the sexual and parental urges. Some of these emotions are valuable and help produce culture and scientific advancement. Where as, some of these emotions are destructive.

I will narrate you one ignoble incidant that happened in the heart of Andhra Pradesh, the state where I live. It was about an extremely pretty girl who was also a gifted student. She attended a science college in Vijayawada. Unfortunately, one of her classmates who was an insecure loser, was smitten by her beauty. She politely refused his advances. But he continued to pester her and even started to threaten her family. Frightened, she requested for police protection. But this did not help. For in the next day, he walked into the classroom and hacked her with a kitchen knife. He slashed her neck repeatedly, murdering her instantly. This happened in the presence of the entire class and the lecturer. He then walked away and escaped to Tamil Nadu. But ultimately, he was captured by the police.

He was initially given death penalty. But his punishment was later reduced to life imprisonment.

Now consider, what has happened to the girl. She lost her life. Had she lived, she could have discovered several things, possibly contributed to the society and to the advancement of science and culture. How should we punish somebody guilty of murdering her ? Death seems to be the right punishment. But I think it is wrong. Human mind has an amazing ability to learn and to repent. We cannot rule out the possibility that after his service in the prison, he emerges as a good citizen.

But this argument does not tell entirely about the loss that happened to the girl. She not only lost her life but also lost her genes. She had a premature death before she could give birth to children and raise them. She had been denied of the most basic urge of life !

Now if we consider the punishment that was awarded to the murderer, it appears that this basic right of life is still left within him. He can still have sex, bear children and propagate his genes. Do you call this justice ?

I do not believe in the culture of honor - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But in this scenario, I think it calls for an amendment in the law. The right punishment, I believe, is to turn him impotent and then imprison him for life.

Doing this, we will be setting the right incentives. Anybody who intends to commit rape and murder on women will have to think about these consequences. The primeval sexual urges that motivate the murderer to commit his crime will be immediately conditioned by his thinking about the consequences. This will prevent violence in a better way than done by death penalty.


None said...

Who will consummate with such a cold bastard ?
Anyway ,
Think of the people who have comitted the crime in the heat of the moment , do u think those people should also be made impotent?
where is the answer for cases of Mistaken Identity ??

agastyabhrata said...

Correction : To be CJI said it was his personal opinion was so, and he is not imposing it on any one. Further, he goes on to say it is the Parliament which has to make a law and abolish death penalty.

Kiran said...

thanks for the correction pranav. Now since the matter is with the parliament, I trust it will never pass the bill and make it a law. :)) Remember the one with reservations for women in the parliament ?

And none, mistaken identity will be a pretty sad case. So if this thing is made into a law, it should be exercised very carefully. For cases like Manohar (who was the bastard in the story) there is no question of mistaken identity.

And sure, there will be no dearth of women who would want to be fcuked by this fellow. Bottomline, people are selfish. It doesnt matter the man who was fcuking them was a murderer.

And about heat of the moment yeah sure. The law should be exercised then too !! A life lost is a life lost. It doesnt matter whether that fellow did it in the heat of the moment or in the heat of drugs.


Actually, the basic aim of life is not just reproduction but "Survival and reproduction". In that case, the right treatement to the offender is a death penalty. making him impotent for denying the girl to reproduce now means capital punishment for denying the girl the right to live.

Kiran said...


You are wrong. According to biological terms (not philosophical or subjective terms) survival has no value other than serving as reproductive currency.

Natural Selection aka "survival of the fittest" can be very well re-read as "the fittest ones shall reproduce"

Also when I talk about survival, I do not mean the survival of an individual but the survival of a gene. Gene is the basic unit of evolution. (Read "selfish gene" by Sir Richard Dawkins.. Available in the library)

Mischord said...

It makes good sense to base laws on the positive thinking that the human mind can learn and repent. But again, what is the larger role of law, to prevent crime or to mete justice by punishing the criminal?

If it is the first case, wonder how often the fear of punishment prevented a real rogue from committing a crime. In the case u talked about, the guy committed the murder not in some insane spur of emotion. It seems to be a well developed instinct of hatred. In such cases, the fear of punishment may have little influence.

I think justice is never possible. Looks like law is a farce :-)!

ganty said...

the point is good
but somehow not well made
genetic propagation is not necessarily the reason for fornication
rape is a more inveterate urge to establish superiority so is murder

Kiran said...

hmm.. survival is not necessarily the reason for eating sugary and fatty food. But that is exactly the reason at the core of it, from the point of view of evolution.

Most of the emotions that a person feels can be traced down to sexual urges. You call it establishing superiority over another person .. it comes down to propagating more genes than the other person.

It will not do well to ignore this fact.

ganty said...

read ur movie blog

try watchin
maria full of grace and of course the wells masterpiece
citizen kane
saw them sometime ago thought u might be interested and yea to show off of course(hehe)