Cropped version – Invitation sent out by a group of students at JNU, New Delhi

This post is addendum to the one posted a week ago: False Accusations & Real Facts about Afzal Guru’s Conviction

The reason for this post is to question what I see as unjust and unwarranted criticism of Supreme Court’s verdict on the appeal filed by Afzal Guru against the death sentence awarded to him by the High Court.

From the amount of reading I have done, I could discover two major objections/questions raised by some well known social activists, columnists, etc. Let me list them out here and follow each one of them with what I think.

Question 1: The sentencing was based on circumstantial evidence and no direct involvement could ever be proved.

My Reply: Not only does someone from legal fraternity in India, even someone who follows the legal process in India knows circumstantial evidences can be the sole basis for conviction. In the case of Afzal Guru, here’s an excerpt of the Supreme Court judgement that captures the Honourable Supreme Court’s rationale behind the verdict it reached:

Mostly, the conspiracies are proved by the circumstantial evidence, as the conspiracy is seldom an open affair. Usually both the existence of the conspiracy and its objects have to be inferred from the circumstances and the conduct of the accused. (Per Wadhwa, J. in Nalini’s case (supra) at page 516). The well known rule governing circumstantial evidence is that each and every incriminating circumstance must be clearly established by reliable evidence and “the circumstances proved must form a chain of events from which the only irresistible conclusion about the guilt of the accused can be safely drawn and no other hypothesis against the guilt is possible.

Please read the previous post for few of the circumstantial evidences explored by the honourable supreme court: False Accusations & Real Facts about Afzal Guru’s Conviction

Question 2: The following statement made by the Honourable Supreme Court while reading out it’s judgement has also come under attack.

The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender. 

Questions like “whose collective conscience – Government, Media ?” have been asked. Highlighted in the picture above, it was called “Brahamanical Collective Conscience” giving it  a casteist overtone.

My Reply: The attack on our parliament shook the entire nation. It shook the collective conscience of every Indian. This collective conscience was not fed from the news rooms of live broadcasters. It resides deep within the heart of every Indian irrespective of their religion or economical background.

Finally, I would like to wrap this post by saying this:

To term this “collective conscience” a propaganda by the State and media or to give a myopic casteist interpretation is iniquitous in its very nature. If an attack on our parliament was not sufficient enough to shake our conscience then what more is needed.

Aditya Dutta
Twitter: @aditya_datta