New Delhi, Aug 1: BJP MP Varun Gandhi today came out strongly against the death penalty, noting most of the death row convicts are Dalits or from the minorities. His party distanced itself from the stand, calling it his personal view.
Fellow party MP Shatrughan Sinha has also spoken against capital punishment. In an article titled "The Noose Casts A Shameful Shadow," Gandhi said: "75 percent of the convicts on death row belong to the socially and economically marginalised classes; 94 percent of death row convicts are Dalits or from the minorities.
"The poor consistently get the short end of the legal stick. The death penalty is a consequence of poor legal representation and institutional bias. The gallows remain a poor man's trap," he added.
Pitching for abolition of death penalty, Gandhi, an MP from Uttar Pradesh's Sultanpur, contended that "society can be protected from miscreants, criminals and terrorists through less disproportionate means that preserve our dignity, values and institutions".
He also termed the hangman a disgrace to any civilized society. "Beyond its ethics, a basic unpredictability makes capital punishment a social evil," he said, stressing that India, as one of the 58-odd countries where death penalty is retained, needs to recognise the changing global scenario.
"The death penalty is not just a remedy available at the disposal of the law, but a human rights issue, beyond the pale of law. For the largest democracy, the death penalty is an anomaly. It needs correction. Many that live do deserve death. And some that die deserve life. One must not be too eager to deal out death in judgement," he said.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was Gandhi's personal view. "There is provision of capital punishment for rarest of the rare case and the Supreme Court pronounces verdict on it," he said in a press conference.