The government Saturday was accused by some jurists of hanging Afzal Guru on account of political expediency as it was finding itself on the backfoot on issues of national security and law and order.
‘He (Afzal Guru) was hanged not for his role in parliament attack but because the BJP has put the government on the backfoot on the question of national security and crime situation,’ said Yug Mohit Chaudhary, senior counsel at the Bombay High Court.
Delivering the Second Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture at the Indian Law Institute, Chaudhary wondered why Guru was hanged just before the budget session of parliament quite like Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani terrorist held guilty in the Mumbai terror attack, who was hanged before the winter session of the house.
‘Afzal Guru was hanged on the eve of the budget session of parliament. Same had happened in the case of Kasab’, Yug Mohit Chaudhary said, pointing to the manner in which the government allegedly flouted all statutory provisions in his hanging.
Speaking on the subject ‘Capital Punishment: An Agenda for Abolition’, Chaudhary said there has to be a gap between informing the death convict of the rejection of his mercy petition and actual carrying out of the sentence so that he could exercise the option of seeking any available judicial remedy.
Claiming that Guru was not given an opportunity to meet his wife and child and his family too was not informed about the decision to hang him, Chaudhary wondered if we were living in a police state.
He said every person has a right to judicial remedy till his last breadth. He cited instances in the past when just a day before their hanging convicts got reprieve from the top court.
Opposing the death penalty, the senior counsel said: ‘Judiciary is error prone as any other institution in the country.’
He cited several instances to drive home his point. He said that even the apex court admitted that the doctrine of rarest of rare case for awarding death sentence was subjective and arbitrary.
Senior counsel Vrinda Grover, who presided over the function, responding to a query said that Afzal Guru faced the trial without the assistance of a defence counsel as he was told that the eight names that he had given to represent him in the trial had declined to appear for him.
Grover said that Guru told the court that the junior lawyer that was assigned for his defence was not acceptable to him.
Grover said the junior lawyer, who appeared for him, did not have the number of years of practice to entitle him to be on the panel of legal aid.
The meeting passed a resolution condemning the manner in which Guru was hanged in secrecy in breach of all rules and regulations.
Rights group People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a statement, said that the ‘tearing hurry with which Afzal Guru was hanged, accompanied by the flouting of all established norms by not giving his family their legal right to meet him before taking him to the gallows, clearly indicates that there were political considerations behind taking this step’.
‘The PUCL feels that starting with Kasab, now with Afzal Guru, the country is going to witness a spate of executions. We give a call to the nation to break this spiral of executions,’ it said.