Shashi Tharoor says state-sponsored killing reduces us to murderers, hinting that the decisions of the president on mercy petitions are, in effect, taken with inputs from the government. It may have been an indirect barb at Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh, but little did he think that he was also reducing to murderers the top brass of the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments – Manmohan Singh, Shivraj Patil, Sushil Kumar Shinde, and P Chidambaram – that advised the president to reject the mercy petitions filed for Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. It was only poetic justice that Yakub Memon who deprived 257 people of their right to life had to knock on all doors even in the wee hours of the judgment day in his attempt to get his own life back.
If tomorrow the Supreme Court commutes Memon’s death sentence, it will knock the stuffing out of my faith in our legal system. Pardoning someone on religious grounds will set a wrong precedent by making nugatory the two decades of investigations, trials, further hearings, and all other efforts and time spent on the case. The judiciary will stand like a clown in the eyes of perspicacious citizens. The religious leaders and celebrities who have now chosen to throw their weight behind Memon’s appeal are in effect fighting not only against 257 souls, the many wounded, and their families, but all Indians. A decision reversal will be historic on several counts. Amongst other things, it will also send out a strong message that India is open to even larger investments. In terrorism, that is.