Speaking to the press on his last day in office, Justice Lahoti’s remarks assume significance coming as they do two days after the worst terrorist strike in Delhi. And when the UPA government repealed the terror law citing its misuse and its commitment in the Common Minimum Programme.
“Has anyone thought why there has not been a single instance of terror in USA post-9/11 unlike India where such attacks occur almost every day? The difference lies in the desire to study the problem scientifically and take remedial measures,” Justice Lahoti said.
“We do not have the political will to fight terrorism”, he said underlining the need for new legislation. “When new challenges come, new solutions also have to found. Terrorism is a gift of the last century...Terrorist acts require an altogether new type of investigation. It (terrorism) requires new laws and new methodologies. A study should be conducted to identify the causes and suggest remedies. But there is no serious study in our country,” he said.
The Delhi blasts found an echo in his views on death penalty where Justice Lahoti said he was in favour of retaining it in the statute book. This is in sharp contrast to that of his successor Justice Y K Sabharwal, who had first told The Indian Express that his “personal” view was that it should be abolished.
“My personal view is that it must continue to exist”, Justice Lahoti said.
He justified the death sentence given to Dhananjoy for raping and brutally killing a minor girl. Referring to the lives lost in the Delhi blasts, Justice Lahoti said: “What other penalty would suit perpetrators of such brutal acts? What other penalty is called for if the crime is proved beyond any reasonable doubt? What happens is that, we forget the past. We see only the face of the accused, who is before us and his family. We forget the victims and their families.”
The CJI, however, advised that alternative, less painful modes of execution should be explored if available.