Rajoana Row: M S Gill Wants Death Penalty Abolished

Rajoana Row: M S Gill Wants Death Penalty Abolished
Even as Congress has disapproved of demands for clemency for death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana, its MP M S Gill has said death penalty was a "barbarian concept" and should be abolished immediately through a legislation.

Gill, former Chief Election Commissioner and Union Minister, said the provision for death penalty needed to be done away with "to avoid the tensions" which arise every now and then.

"The civilized world gave up the death penalty in the last century. India too rejected this barbarian concept. Unfortunately, it was brought back, through a judicial approval in, 'the rarest of rare cases'. Since then, judges give it frequently. It is difficult to see any consistent philosophy in their decisions," he said.

His statement came against the backdrop of the clemency demands for Rajoana who has been awarded death sentence for killing former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.

"I oppose death penalty totally. I call upon the government to put an immediate stop to this form of justice, if necessary by a parliamentary change of the law," Gill said.

"I am of the view that death penalty be replaced by a very long life sentence in jail in appropriate cases. This will avoid the tensions which arise every now and then," he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sikh body SGPC has been leading a campaign for clemency for Rajoana.

This was disapproved by Congress yesterday, with its spokesman Abhishek Singhvi saying "there is no role given to the Assembly and this (hanging of Rajoana) is a culmination of the legal process. These issues proceed under a legal and constitutional process and reach up to a certain point."

He said "whatever any Assembly may say, it cannot have any legal or Constitutional impact".
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