Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Sunday that the government needs to “rethink” its policy on capital punishment.
Speaking at the Idea Exchange programme organised by Loksatta, the Marathi newspaper of The Indian Express Group, Shinde said: “We need to rethink. We (the government and Rashtrapati Bhavan) received a representation from 13-14 eminent Indian persons yesterday demanding a ban on death penalty. There should not be cruelty. They said these convicts (should) be made to serve in jail and need not be released on parole.”
Shinde’s statement comes just days after 26/11 terror attack convict Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged.
The Home Minister, however, added that in Kasab’s case, the question of “cruelty” did not arise as he was part of the team that killed 166 people in Mumbai.
On the other terror convict on death row, Afzal Guru, Shinde said the home ministry had received the file on his mercy petition from Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday.
“The file has been sent to me yesterday, but I have not read it yet. We will take a decision after examining all legal angles,” he said.
Shinde said there are several letters from the international community too stating that there should not be capital punishment. “For many years, there has been a thought process. We need to rethink,” he added.
Last week, India opposed a resolution in the UN general assembly seeking abolition of death penalty. While 110 countries supported the resolution, India, China, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and the US were among the 39 countries which opposed it.
‘Will not contest polls’
“I do not wish to contest elections in 2014. I have got much from the Congress and reached this post. I want to retire,” said Union Home Minister and veteran Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde, adding that he does not wish to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha either.