Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Death Penalty: Issues for Discussion

This week's group has identified the following as the main issues for discussion at tomorrow's forum. Please think about them, as you read/re-visit the judgment:
Bariyar Issues
1. What constitutes “Rarest of Rare”?
2. Is Bariyar feasible? Or has it imposed a moratorium on the death penalty?
3. What is the rationale behind the death penalty (in light of Bariyar),given Shraddhanand’s definition of life imprisonment?
4. Does the Bariyar standard affect judicial discretion?
5. The question of reformation of the criminal wrt remission (is thejudiciary curtailing the power of the Executive of sentence and parole?)(Shawshank Redemption)
Additional Issues
1. Mandatory Death Sentences and violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR
2. Global Opinion on the death penalty
3. Mode of Execution: is hanging inhumane?
4. Delays and negligence by administrative and judicial officers(Dhananjoy Chatterjee)
5. Should age and mental imbalance (at the time of execution) affectexecution of death penalty?
Please feel free to add to these issues in the comments section, if you think there is something more that needs to be discussed or highlighted.
EDIT (Aparna): We should also debate the "big-picture" issue of the justification/constitutionality of death penalty- and examine Bariyar's contribution to the debate. Has the court added to the moral and constitutional debates on death penalty by focusing on the more pragmatic issue of "arbitrariness"? How does that shape our understanding of whether the death penalty is constitutional? Also, once the court took cognizance of arbitrariness in the capital punishment regime, did it abdicate its responsibility by not refering the matter to a larger bench for a re-examination of Bachchan Singh?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Session 1: Death Penalty

This week we will discuss recent developments in India's death penalty jurisprudence in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Santosh Kumar Bariyar v. Sate of Maharashtra. The judgment can be found here. Please read it for this week's session. We will meet at 4:00 p.m. on July 30, 2009 (Thursday) in the 5th year classroom.

Suggestions for additional reading (optional):

Bachchan Singh v. State of Punjab

Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab

Amnesty's Report on "Lethal Lottery: The Death Penalty in India"

EDIT: The link to the judgment seems to break ever so often. The judgment is available on JUDIS and Manupatra. It is dated 13th May, 2009 and was delivered by Justice S. B. Sinha. As additional reading it might also be instructive to go through Swamy Shraddananda @ Murali Manohar Mishra v. State of Karnataka (Judgment of Justice Aftab Alam delivered on July 22, 2008. Citation AIR 2008 SC 3040).

Introducing CLIF

The Current Legal Issues Forum (CLIF) is an initiative at the National Law School, Bangalore, for providing a platform to discuss, debate, analyse and critique legal developments of contemporary importance. While the Forum is being setup mainly for the benefit of NLS students, it welcomes and actively solicits inputs on the blog from NLS students who are not part of the Forum, from other members of the NLS community, and from anyone interested in the topics we are discussing. Your views and opinions will enrich the quality and content of our deliberations.

The Forum will meet once a week for a 2-hour session to discuss topics and readings assigned for that session. The topic for each week’s discussion will be decided the previous week and a group of students will be assigned the task of leading discussions. Students can either sign up to be graded for one-credit, or can audit some or all sessions without grading. The Forum will meet every Thursday between 4:00–6:00 p.m. Where possible, the Forum will invite other Faculty members and outside experts to speak on the issue under discussion.
This blog has been set up for facilitating Forum discussions, and to carry the conversation beyond the class-room. Readings for each session will be posted on this blog. Given the number of people who have expressed interest in the Forum, each week’s topic will have to be assigned to a group of students who will have to divide up responsibilities between them. The group of students responsible for a week’s reading will post on this blog issues for discussion by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday of that week. The group will also be responsible for initiating and leading discussions at that session. By Friday evening, the group will post on the blog, a write-up on that week’s readings, a summary of the class discussions, and their own views (individual or collective) on the subject.

Since students will be working as a group, they will be expected to read beyond the assigned material for the week for which they are responsible. They should be familiar with the most important legal developments on the topic of discussion and should know the important previous cases, statutory measures, reports, etc on the area of their responsibility. Students will be graded as a group for the presentation component of the course. As far as possible we will try forming groups such that they cut across batches. Each registered student has to be involved in leading discussions and writing up on ONE session of the Forum.

The evaluation scheme will be as follows:
1. Discussion and Write up (comprising issues for discussion, leading classroom discussions, and final write up): 80 (graded as a group)
2. Class Participation: 15
3. Attendance: 5
4. Total: 100

Students interested in participating in the Forum for credit are requested to sign up with the Exam Dept.