Former president A P J Abdul Kalam has supported abolition of the death penalty, saying that as President he felt pain in deciding mercy petitions of death row convicts since most of them had “social and economic bias”.
Responding to a Law Commission of India consultation paper on capital punishment, Kalam is one of the few to support abolition of the death sentence .
Quoting from his book Turning Points, he said, “One of the more difficult tasks for me as President was to decide on the issue of confirming capital punishment awarded by courts… to my surprise… almost all cases which were pending had a social and economic bias. This gave me an impression that we were punishing the person who was least involved in the enmity and who did not have a direct motive for committing the crime,” he said.
Kalam, however, said there was one case where he found the convict had committed the crime without doubt. “In that case I affirmed the sentence.” He was referring to Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was executed for the rape and murder of an 18-year-old Kolkata girl.