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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Khushwant Singh

All for awarding punishment that befits the crime
Khushwant Singh
April 07, 2012
First Published: 23:53 IST(7/4/2012)
Last Updated: 23:57 IST(7/4/2012)

It is an elementary principle of jurisprudence that punishment should fit the crime. Does killing a killer by hanging him meet this requirement? The answer is in the categorical negative. India should abolish the death penalty as soon as it an — perhaps on Bapu Gandhi’s birth or death anniversary. Many Western democracies have abolished the death penalty. In the United States, some states continue to have it. Others have abolished it. They also have a variety of ways of executing killers; the most popular being the electric chair. Others like the Arab states continue with medieval practice like beheading victims or stoning them to death.

We must bring our penal code up-to-date after abolishing death penalty and finding more appropriate punishment for those who deprive other people of their lives. What they are, should be debated in the media and by our legislators. Of one penalty I am quite clear: putting a rapist in jail for a number of years is pointless.

The most befitting punishment for rape is to castrate rapists. I have not the slightest doubt that even the announcement in the change of punishment for rapists will drastically reduce the recurrence. There are other crimes that would be better tackled than by fines and imprisonment.

The one we are up against most today is corruption — the higher in social status, more is the money involved. Today, a crore or two is regarded as pittance — and the figure of illicit money keeps rising by the day. The corrupt rich can hire the best of lawyers and grease the palms of judges. Jailing them after lengthy trials extending over many years sends wrong messages to the public. In my view, a more deterrent punishment would be public humiliation. Those found guilty should be brought to public places like chowks or market places and made them sit on platforms so that passers-by can clearly see them. Their crimes should be printed on boards in large letters so that everyone can read them. If this goes on for many days, the convict will not be able to show his or her face to anyone for a log time.

What about Rajoana? If his life is spared, we will have taken a bold step towards abolishing a barbarous practice.

200 Years of Pride and Prejudice
Byron and Shelley now breathe only in the English text books. Schopenhauer is at most alive in philosophy consigned to oblivion is Robert Shouthey. But Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continues to bewitch and fascinate TV soaps and big screen adaptations. A concerted search for ‘P&P’ sequels brings in 360 results on the internet and for Mr Darcy a formidable 1600. More than two thousand stories based on this two-century-old novel grace the racks of fan-fiction.

(Contributed by Prof RP Chaddah, Chandigarh)

The Spice of Life
A beggar or a king
In order to make life worth living
Man needs something spicy, something exciting.
So when breaking furniture, howling and growling
Lose novelty
People’s representatives in the assembly
Strive hard to serve the country,
For which they surf their iPads
To unearth crime, to root out obscenity
And only by the way enjoy pornography
The affairs of the state
The dull legislative business can wait
Because at the moment the scene is quite intimate
Novelty today is custom tomorrow
So it is amusing to speculate
How they will pass time in the assembly
Will they for the sake of novelty
Actually enact something
That they most intently see?

(Contributed by Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

Polyglot
Siegrid Baumgartner, a German lady, lives in Belgium near the Dutch border. One evening, on her way to English class she got a flat tyre. She took her bicycle to a shop to be repaired and told the mechanic that she would pick it up on her way home after class. When she came back, the man had gone home, leaving a note on her bike: “Free repair job on a Dutch bicycle for a German lady who lives in Belgium and studies English.” The note was signed: “Jacques Moreau, Frenchman.”

(Contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)

The views expressed by the author are personal


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