Writing and Communication SS-100
10th Dec, 2011
Are executions sometimes required to uphold justice?
Crime is an incontestable part of the society which is a result of social, political and economic imbalance and differences amongst different sects of society. It is obvious that states have to take actions in order to repress and deter crime but the manner in which this is done has always been up for discussion. Death penalty and life imprisonment are the commonly used tools used by the state to reduce homicide rates and other execrable crimes. Although there is a school of thought which considers death penalty as an appropriate and acceptable consequence to horrific crimes however majority still see it as inhumane and objectionable as it not only violates the basic human rights of the people but also sometimes claims innocent lives, does not act as a crime deterrent, is racially biased, costs more than alternative punishments and targets the poor mainly. Execution of innocent or guiltless person is one of the major arguments for the abolition of death penalty. According to legal experts it is better and safe to acquit nine guilty persons rather take the risk of convicting the tenth innocent person. The criminal justice system especially of developing or under-developed countries like Pakistan is not error-free and the imposition of death penalty upon a criminal convicted on capital charge is most likely to result in injustice. On the commission of a crime, the machinery of law comes into operation with the registration of FIR with the police. Due to low moral standards generally the people implicate innocent persons along with real culprits in the FIR. This is done sometimes to settle old scores and take revenge for excesses committed earlier by the other side. Police in these countries generally is notoriously corrupt and during investigation plays its dirty role; it brings up false witnesses, inducts fake recoveries and sometimes even forged documents. Furthermore the undeveloped countries also lack in new scientific techniques, testing skills and this is another hurdle in the way of a careful and proper investigation by the police. Result is that when the case is filed in the court for trial of the accused, it is usually composed of a distorted picture of the incident as it contains serious allegations which are contrary to the real facts. Likewise, in the stage of court proceedings, when the witnesses of the prosecution are called to give evidence, they sometimes make false testimonies in support of the prosecution and against the accused which is another subject of concern and debate. These statements are documented by the court and thus the record is prepared on the basis of a faulty case and false evidence. As a result of this record, it becomes most unlikely that the real culprit is convicted and the innocent persons who are falsely implicated are finally acquitted. The subordinate judiciary, before which the trial takes place, is also more or less not above-board. Sometimes there is an element of approach and on other occasions bribe is offered and taken. Cause of justice is thus severely damaged. One can imagine the plight of an innocent person who is awarded death penalty and is apprehending his execution as a result thereof. We can refer to the execution case of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, being debated before the Supreme Court which supports the above view. During the course of hearings that have already taken place, as reported in various newspapers, the bench has time and again made observations that it could be said that it was bad trial resulting in the conviction of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Serious question arises that if that be so, can the deceased Prime Minister be brought back to life out of his burial place and the entire legal exercise that took place more than quarter of century earlier was not a farce...