A conclave of human rights groups organised by the Human Rights Law Network to abolish death penalty was held here on Sunday. Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) activist Rajwinder Singh Bains and high court lawyer Navkiran Singh said death penalty was not a deterrent to crime; on the contrary it bred violence. People facing the death penalty should be given he chance to live and reform, they said.
"Capital punishment in India is being selectively used for various reasons," Bains said. "While in some cases death penalty pronounced by trial courts is converted to life imprisonment by the higher courts without citing valid reasons, in others cases, particularly those where a political leader has been assassinated, it is upheld by the higher courts, citing them as the "rarest of rare cases".
Bains and Sigh agreed that the condition of "rarest of the rare" was being misused to uphold death sentences. "Capital punishment has been abolished even in a country like Israel, where there have been numerous cases of terrorist violence," they said.
Dr Binayak Sen of the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) spoke about the manner in which sedition cases were being registered against human rights activists. He said the PUCL would collect 10 lakh signatures and present it to Parliament calling for bringing about changes in the laws under which sedition cases were being registered.
Human Rights Law Network chairperson Colin Gonzalves in his lecture observed that the National Human Rights Commission and state human rights commissions had failed to become effective recommendatory bodies.
"We resolve to constitute independent people's tribunals in all states of India to gather information on human rights violations," said Gonzalves while moving a resolution at the meeting.
The resolution also criticised oppressive laws and resolved to work democratically for their abolition. The resolution called for bringing about better coordination between various human rights groups in the country.
Other groups that participated in the conclave are Khalra Mission Organisation led by Paramjit Kaur Khalra, Lawyers of Human Rights International, Sikhs for Human Rights and Association of Disappeared Persons from the Kashmir Valley.