Fri|6 Jun| 6.00PM| Talk on South African Anti-Death Penalty Jurisprudence

Dear All,

We invite you for a talk by N. Jayaram, commemorating one of the greatest anti death penalty judgments in the world by the South African Constitutional Court.
Day: Friday the 5th of June 2015
Time: 6 pm
Venue: Alternative Law Forum, 122/4, Infantry Road, Next to Balaji Art Gallery, Bangalore

About the Talk

On June 6, it’ll be 20 years since one of the world’s greatest of anti-death penalty judgements: The day when in the post-Apartheid and newly democratic Republic of South Africa, the Constitutional Court ruled on it as the framers of the constitution had not expressly proscribed capital punishment. The background is that even though the new government led by President Nelson Mandela was abolitionist, the attorney general of Witwatersrand pressed for the death penalty for two people named Makwanyane and Mchunu. And thereby inadvertently did us all a great favour as it unleashed scintillatingly brilliant prose and argumentation by the likes of world renowned judges such as the court’s then president Arthur Chaskalson, as well as the equally great Ismail Mahomed, Yvonne Mokgoro, Kate O’Regan, Albie Sachs and others.

The talk will deal with the background to the case, the arguments forwarded to establish that the death penalty is unconstitutional, extensive quotations as also its references to judgements in Indian courts (including the Supreme Court’s ‘Bachan Singh Vs State of Punjab’ of 1980 setting out the “rarest of rare” doctrine, alas observed more in the breach, including by the SCI itself.)

About the Speaker

N. Jayaram has been a journalist, previously with the Press Trust of India and Agence France-Presse news agencies and has worked in New Delhi, Beijing, Hong Kong and briefly Hanoi. He blogs at