DEATH PUNISHMENT

Concept of punishment is as ancient as the concept of the establishment of first human civilization. God punished Adam and Eve for the first time, in human history, when they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, acting against God’s will. As the result of their disobedience against the preset rule i.e. “not to eat the forbidden fruit”, they were thrown out of paradise and sent to earth (an isolated place) as their punishment.

Crime, criminal and punishment, all three of them are linked together. So to understand one phenomenon we should have the better understanding of other two also. Crime is a serious offense against the public law. It’s a breaking of a regulation. According to Encyclopedia Britannica “Crime is an intentional act, that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals, and that is legally prohibited and punishable.[1] A person who commits crime is a criminal. Criminal is considered malignant for society and crime, punishment is been given to criminals for their crimes so they should feel sorry for it and people would learn a lesson from their punishment that every bad, ends up bad. So basically punishment is for the welfare, prosperity and security of a society and its people.

In every corner of the world, for each crime there is a punishment accordingly. These punishments are different from each other by their specific aspect and application. “Death penalty, Deportation, Exile or life imprisonment, Imprisonment, Solitary confinement, Corporal Punishment, Imprisonment for indefinite period, and Fine”[2] are the punishments given all around the world to criminals. Among them Death Penalty or Death Sentence is the most severe type of punishment, which is considered as the Capital Punishment and been given on a very severe kind of crimes, such as murder and impulsiveness against state and religion.

In Islam Death Penalty is restricted to “rebellions and murderers” (Surah AlHijrat, 9), “Adulterer and Adulteress” (Muslim Shareef Sharah Alnoori, 11th edition, pp 202) “Impulsiveness against Islam” (Surah Al-Maida, 33), “an Apostate” (Hidayat AL-Mujahid-Az-Ibn-e-Rushd, 2nd edition, pp 383), ‘Intentionally Killing” (Surah Baqra: 178, Surah Bani Israel: 33, Surah Al-Maida: 45) [3]. According to Pakistan Penal code following crime leads to Death Punishment:

  1. Intentional Killing [section 303 (4) (c)]
  2. War against Government of Pakistan. [121 (4) (c)]
  3. To support rebellions. [132 (4) (c)]
  4. To bear false testimony against a person that leads to his death sentence.     [194 (4) (c)]
  5. Killing [302 (4) (c)]
  6. To support a suicider connecting child or lover. [305 (4) (c)]
  7. Killing for robbery. [396 (4) (c)]
  8. Robbery for the intention of killing or doing harm. [397 (4) (c)]
  9. Molest a woman and then expose her in front of public. [354 (1)]
  10. Kidnapping for property. [365 (1)]
  11. Hijacking. [402 (2)]
  12. Kidnapping of a child below10 years old. [364 (1)][4]

 

The reason behind giving Capital punishment is to take revenge from a criminal, for his crime and to set an example for other, so they should avoid crime. Capital punishment finishes crime and criminal both, and save society from further crimes.

THEORIES OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT:

 

There are two schools of thoughts, one is in favor of capital punishment and other is against capital punishment.  Those who are in favor of capital punishment support it by saying that “killing of one person is like killing whole humanity[5]. It’s actually true because one person is attached with so many other persons emotionally, socially, or economically. Some times a single person support a family of five or eight. If you kill that person, you are not just taking away his life but you are taking away a supplier of basic human needs from that family. So a murderer should be sentenced to death.

Capital punishment is also good solution to “control crime[6]. If criminals would be left unpunished and forgiven for their crimes, then it will encourage other criminals to commit crime. There would be no fear for committing crime because there’ll be no severe punishment to prevent them from committing crime. It shows the “system of justice[7] that every severe crime has a severe punishment accordingly. Islam also says that life should be taken for life.

By giving capital punishment to a murderer, the family of a person has been murdered feels some consolation. The feeling to take revenge is controlled. Otherwise, if everyone would be taking revenge by themselves for their lose, it would create law and order situation. Capital punishment is been given so the value of life of an individual and judiciary should be understood. It helps in finishing dissoluteness of a state.

The other school of thought which is against capital punishment says that it should not be given at all because it doesn’t benefit the family of the person whose been murdered. Instead of giving capital punishment, ransom should be taken from the criminal and give it to the family. However I don’t agree with this idea. There is no amount of money, property or anything which can replace a person’s life. The emotions, the feelings which a family shares cannot be bought from money. Money can’t bring happiness and cannot replace a human life. And by taking ransom and freeing a criminal can only help in increasing crimes. It promotes the idea that one can pay some amount for killing a life, and easily escape from the consequences. It would also evoke the feeling of revenge in a family, and could harm the law and order situation.

The other point against capital punishment is that the criminal could not feel guilty and sorry for his crime. Through death a criminal escapes pain of a punishment. However I feel that if a person comes to know that he’s going to die soon, the time period in between his death is more than enough to make him realize and to make him feel guilty about what he has done. He would definitely feel pain because every minute bring him near to his death, and worst thing is he knows about it. May be this is a reason that before the time of hanging a person to death, a team of doctor do a medical checkup of a criminal, so when he would be hanged he could feel the pain.

Another point against capital punishment is that it kills the chance of rectification of a criminal. However I believe that habitual criminals and psychopaths are the dangerous and harmful part of society. They can never be corrected and rectified, and can never become a good citizen. In short they are burden on society and they should be killed.

In England Death Punishment has been prohibited for the children below the age of eighteen and for pregnant ladies. In USA apart from few states, death punishment is prohibited. The rule of giving death punishment is finished from Switzerland in 1942, from Sweden in 1961, from Italy in 1948, from Cuba, Newzeland, Queensland, Mexico, state of Michigan (America) in 1948 and from Raved Island in 1854.[8] The reason behind prohibiting capital punishment was to protect human life. According to western countries no one has a right to take human life, given by God.  Death punishment is unethical and “illegal”, and it opposes human rights. We can see the conflict in their word and deed because it was these Western countries, which make an alliance after 9/11, to take revenge from Afghanistan and kill millions of innocent people, and the criminals (Osama-bin-Ladin and Al-Qaida) were remained unharmed. It is America who on every second day doing drone attack on Pakistan, still killing innocent people. The state of California is considered as a state of crimes, but when it comes to death punishment whole western Human rights commission stand against it, declaring it harmful for the human rights. On the other hand Islam has declared death punishment for certain crimes, which I had mentioned in the beginning, and there are no contradictory statements present about the death punishment. The concept of death punishment in Islam is exemplary, preventive and corrective. The punishment is for everyone who commits certain crime, and there is no alteration for that. Islam is a religion of balance; the rules have been set by God himself. If our judiciary follows Islamic rules for death punishment, the society would be in harmony.


[1] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah,Essence of Crime (Western and Islamic concept), “Criminology”, Maktaba-e-Faridi,1996, pg no. 22.

[2] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, “Comparative Jurisprudence”, Maktaba-e-Faridi, 1996, pg no. 187-190.

[3] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, “Comparative Jurisprudence”, Maktaba-e-Faridi, 1996, pg no. 193.

[4] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, Objects of Punishments, “Criminology”, Maktaba-e-Faridi,1996, pg no. 179.

[5] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, Objects of Punishments, “Criminology”, Maktaba-e-Faridi,1996, pg no. 193-196.

[6] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, Objects of Punishments, “Criminology”, Maktaba-e-Faridi,1996, pg no. 193-196.

[7] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, Objects of Punishments, “Criminology”, Maktaba-e-Faridi,1996, pg no. 193-196.

[8] Noor Gauri, Sanaullah, Objects of Punishments, “Criminology”, Maktaba-e-Faridi,1996, pg no. 192.

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