BJP Appointed Kerala Governor P Sathasivam’s Graham Staines Judgement Revisited

P Sathasivam's lop-sided judgment in the Staine's case now seen in hindsight
P Sathasivam’s lop-sided judgment in the Staine’s case now seen in hindsight

P Sathasivam, the BJP appointed Governor of Kerala, was part of the Supreme Court bench who had upheld the Orissa High Court’s decision to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment in the case of Dara Singh, who played the lead role in the burning alive of Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his young sons Timothy and Philip. The next two paras is how the judgment delivered by Sathasivam justified not considering this case as rarest of rare:

“In the case on hand, even though Graham Staines and his minor sons were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur, the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely converting poor tribals to Christianity. All these aspects have been correctly appreciated by the high court and modified the sentence of death into life imprisonment with which we concurâ€

“It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief by way of ‘use of force’, provocation, conversion and incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the otherâ€

The core logic in this judgment co-authored by P Sathasivam is alarming – that since Dara Singh was out to “teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities” and that “there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief”, the bench doesn’t consider this a rarest of rare case.

Since when has killing in the name of religion started being an acceptable excuse to make it an underpinning of a legal judgment? Even if Graham Staines was involved in ‘forceful conversions’ as claimed by the judgment, what was the justification for killing his two sons? Since we are against capital punishment, we are not trying to make a case for one, but pointing out to the blatant religious bias shown by the esteemed Judge while delivering this judgment.

In hindsight now that P Sathasivam has been appointed by BJP as the Kerala Governor and P Sathasivam’s recent judgments in Amit Shah case, the bias can now be seen through.

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