BENGALURU: In the coming week, Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi says she will introduce a private member's bill for the abolition of death penalty in the Upper House of Parliament. Her bill seeks to abolish capital punishment and substitute all references of punishment by death with imprisonment for life in all laws passed by the Parliament with retrospective effect. The bill, currently being refined by Kanimozhi's team in consultation with lawyers, experts and civil society, will be applicable to .
The DMK is one of a handful of political parties - including CPI, CPM, Shiromani Akali Dal and AIADMK - against the death penalty in principle. It is the inhumanness behind the whole act which made the DMK oppose it, said Kanimozhi. The DMK resolved against the death penalty in its 2014 conference in Tiruchi, and included its abolition in its Lok Sabha election manifesto that year. I see no reason why it [abolition] will not be a part of our 2016 Manifesto," Kanimozhi added.
The Indian parliament has passed 15 private members bills in all: 14 before the 1970s, and one after 45 years in April this year, a Bill on transgender rights by DMK's Tiruchi Siva. More often than not, private member bills are not passed, says Chakshu Roy, Head of Outreach at the Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research.
While the divisive debate rages, only a few MPs have made a move in Parliament. On July 20, CPI's D. Raja submitted a private members resolution in the Rajya Sabha demanding a moratorium on death penalty. Resolutions are different from bills in that they flag issues for discussion in the House.
Kanimozhi's move goes a step further, bringing a Bill to the Rajya Sabha. Under its objectives, it calls capital punishment "unjust and inhuman", and "irreversibile" in a justice system that will always remain susceptible to human failure. It holds that there is no conclusive evidence for it having a deterrent effect.