Varun Gandhi backs abolition of death penalty, BJP distances itself from leader


Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Varun Gandhi on Saturday joined the chorus of those against death penalty through an article written in the Outlook magazine.

However, the party immediately distanced himself from the leader saying it did not endorse Gandhi’s views.

In his article, Gandhi had opined that death sentence only legalises vengeance and therefore, should be done away with. He also argued that death penalty has historically enabled tyranny and that its utility is proving to be anachronistic.

Gandhi’s remarks come only two days after 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon was hanged at Nagpur Central Jail.

“The utility of the death penalty is proving quite anachronistic. The hangman is a disgrace to any civilised country. India’s criminal justice system lacks a critical definition of what constitutes the rarest of rare cases, leaving it to the discretion of the judge’s conscience and socio-political beliefs. The endgame is a lethal lottery. For the largest democracy, the death penalty is an anomaly. It needs correction. Many that live do deserve death. And some that die deserve life. One must not be too eager to deal out death in judgment,” said Varun.

A huge drama had played out on the night of the hanging as a special session of the Supreme Court was called at 3 am to finalise the decision. Memon had moved SC once again after the President rejected his mercy plea.

Earlier, a group of 40 eminent personalities had signed a fresh mercy petition asking President Pranab Mukherjee to stay the execution of Memon.

As per the case of the prosecution, the 1993 Mumbai blasts were orchestrated by Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim to seek revenge for the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Yakub, who is the brother of Tiger, was allegedly not the main accused in the conspiracy.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had also recently backed abolition of death penalty and this invited severe criticism from the BJP.

A huge controversy had also been created in the Yakub issue when Bollywood superstar Salman Khan appeared to have supported the terrorist through tweets asking for his brother Tiger to be implicated instead. Salman later retracted from his tweets and apologised for any potential misunderstanding while sticking to his stand.