Saturday, February 09, 2013

Afzal Guru

We have now done with one long-standing national obsession. Afzal Guru has been hanged, albeit in total secrecy and without giving opportunity to his close relatives to meet him one last time. Government may have its own reasons for being economical with legal requirements which may or may not be acceptable depending on one's view about the whole development.

Our country prides itself, and justifiably so, as a lawful nation where 'law takes its own (meandering) course'. Attack on parliament is a grievous act that calls for most stringent punishment including death as long as capital punishment is deemed legitimate.

The essential legal contretemps that needs to be addressed in this issue is whether Afzal Guru was found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Even habitual critics like Arundathi Roy do not seem to question the gravity of offence but what almost everyone seems to wonder is whether the judicial authorities had ever clearly explained that their judgement indeed met this requirement.

It may be too much to expect the Supreme Court to revisit suo moto this limited part when the accused / guilty is no more and the damage, if any, cannot be undone, but it will be an exemplary precedent if the highest court of the land issues a 'white paper' justifying its judgement or regretting if and where it had gone wrong.

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