Friday, August 31, 2012

Kasab hanging will cost state only 50


 

Ajmal Kasab


That’s Funeral Budget, No Charge For Hangman 

 

Swati Deshpande TNN


Mumbai: To keep him safe, the state has already spent over Rs 50 crore. In his execution, the budget permitted by law is only Rs 50. 

    Not just this, the confirmation of death sentence for Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, for his role in the 26/11 attacks in the city that left 166 dead, has turned the spotlight on other quirks of a set of rules framed well over a century ago.
 
    The course to be taken and interpretation of the rules is further mired in a fog as their use is rare. The last 
execution in Maharashtra was in Pune’s Yerawada jail when Sudhakar Joshi was sent to the gallows in August 1995 in a murder case.
 
    Now 17 years later, the hanging ropes are likely to be measured and tested again when the execution date is set for the terrorist after a few more legal procedures are completed. The jail superintendent has to tell Kasab he has seven days to make a written mercy plea. Then the ball will be in the Maharashtra governor’s and, further on, the President’s court.
 
    If the pleas are turned down, the execution goes ahead. Meeran Borwankar, inspector general (prisons), told TOI that there is no execution fee or payment to be made to the hangman. (More in box)
 
    Executions in India, one of the 96 countries that still allow death penalty, are governed by laws that date back to 1894. The Prisons Act in India is the principle Act which lays down the rules and empowers states to make rules for execution. Four decades ago, the state adopted the Maharashtra Prisons (prisoners sentenced to death) Rules, 1971, that heavily borrows from its parent.
 
    A defining book on the rights of prisoners written by a Bombay high court lawyer, A B Puranik, in 1992 notes how prison laws in Maharashtra lay down that, except as provided in sub-rules, “the body of an executed convict shall be taken out of the prison with all solemnity”. Where possible, the body must be taken in a municipal hearse or ambulance hired to transport the body to the jail cremation or burial ground. The jail “superintendent may incur a reasonable expenditure up to Rs 50 for the transport and disposal of the body”.
 
    Once a convict is sentenced to death, the prison staff has to first measure his neck and weight. It boils down to height, weight and neck measurement with the height measured accurately to the angle of the jaw below the left ear. The height and weight are scientifically used to drop the rope to a certain height during the execution which is open to a dozen male relatives of the convict and other ‘spectators’ allowed by the jail superintendent. Kasab has no relatives in India.
 
    And while a bullet wound, like the many Kasab delivered on 26/11, would perhaps kill instantly, the prison rules say after hanging the condemned convict must be left suspended for half an hour till a medical officer certifies him dead.
 
LONG AND SHORT OF THE GALLOWS
THE PRISONS ACT, 1894, AND THE MAHARASHTRA PRISONS RULES, 1971, LAY DOWN STEP BY STEP HOW TO TREAT A PRISONER ON DEATH ROW RIGHT UP TO HIS LAST BREATH AND BEYOND. HERE’S HOW THE NOOSE TIGHTENS:

ON DEATH ROW  
A convict sentenced to death immediately gets special status in prison
The convict is confined to a special cell away from other prisoners and moved daily
The convict is under continuous 24-hour watch. The guards, posted right at the cell door, can be on duty only for two hours
Relatives or lawyers may visit. A priest or a cleric may be summoned once a week at government’s cost
A convict can get religious books, religious pictures, newspapers and books
Jailor can allow tobacco and other indulgences to the convict

 
FINAL COUNTDOWN After SC confirms death, jailor must tell convict of his right to submit mercy petition in writing within 7 days
If mercy plea is rejected, the state government will fix execution date. The convict can prepare his will
No execution on a public holiday
No execution if convict is unwell. But to justify a postponement, the illness must be serious and acute
 
COMPANY TILL END Only adult male relatives of the convict and other respectable males can witness the execution. Total spectators allowed is 12
The jail superintendent, dy superintendent, senior jailor and medical officer have to be present. A magistrate deputed by the DM will attend

 
D-DAY The gallows must be erected and the hanging rope tested on the execution-eve
The length of the rope is the depth of the drop in the gallows plus the distance between the prisoner’s jaw and the beam from which the noose hangs
The superintendent to check the noose is in proper position
The manual specifically lays down the height of the drop according to the weight of a convict. But a medical officer may suggest a change over any physical peculiarity
After the hanging, the body has to remain suspended for half an hour. Then a medical officer has to certify that life is extinct
A municipal hearse or ambulance may be hired to transport body for disposal according to convict’s religion. For this, jail super is allowed reasonable expenses up to 50
 
Kasab to hear about hanging by Saturday
Aday after the SC confirmed the death sentence handed out to Ajmal Kasab, the convict is still unaware that the clock is ticking on him. Kasab, now 24, had a peaceful day in the well-guarded Arthur Road jail, said sources. He could be officially informed by Saturday, when the prison authorities are expecting the copy of the SC order. Jail superintendent A C Rane said: “We came to know about the judgment through media reports. We are still waiting for a legal document informing us about the verdict. Until I get the order copy, how can I tell him that his death sentence has been upheld by the apex court?” - Mateen Hafeez 



The Times of India, August 31, 2012

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