CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN INDIA

All punishments are based on the same proposition i.e. there must be a penalty for wrongdoing. There are two reasons for inflicting punishment to the offenders. One is the belief that the offender must suffer for committing such act and the other is that the punishment would discourage them to commit further crimes later on. Capital Punishment is an integral part of the Indian Criminal Justice System. Here the offender is sentenced to death after conviction of a criminal offence by a court of law. Sometimes, the existence of capital punishment is questioned immoral as it violates the basic human rights.

MODES OF EXECUTION:

Death Sentence or Death Penalty is a punishment sanctioned by the state, where the person is killed for committing such heinous crime. The act of carrying out such a sentence is termed as execution. Although, the mode of execution adopted differs from nation to nation. Under Indian law the execution is done in two ways:

  • Execution by Hanging: Hanging is an ancient mode of execution. It is the standard mode of execution across different countries. In India, as per law, capital punishment is awarded only in the ‘Rarest of the rare cases’. The primary mode of execution as given under Section 354(5) of the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 is Hanging by neck till death. In the case of Deena vs Union of India[1], the constitutional validity of execution by hanging was challenged on the grounds that hanging is contemplated under Section 354(5) Cr.P.C was inhuman and thereby infringed the right to life of a person. But, the court observed that it was a fair, just and reasonable procedure. Hence, it is Constitutional. In the case of Rishi Malhotra vs Union of India[2], hanging as a mode of execution was challenged in a writ petition and it was argued that Section 352(5) Cr.P.C wasn’t inhuman and cruel. This case brought out the discussion regarding other advance methods of execution in various developed countries. International standards were changed after this case. The execution should be as quick and as simple as possible. It should produce immediate unconsciousness passing quickly into death.
  • Execution by Shooting: Apart from hanging , the other method of execution allowed under the Indian Law is death by shooting. It is provided under The Army Act, The Navy Act and The Air Force Act. Section 34 of the Air Force Act, 1950 empowers the court martial to impose the death sentence for the offences mentioned in section 34(a) to (o) of the Air Force Act, 1950. The final decision about the method of execution remains in the hands of the court martial.

CURRENT STATUS:

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution ensures the fundamental right to life and liberty for all persons. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. While the Central Government has consistently maintained it would keep the death penalty in the statute books to act as a deterrent, and for those who are a threat to the society. The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of capital punishment in rarest of rare cases. It affirmed the constitutional validity of the death penalty in various cases such as Jagmohan Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh[3], Rajendra Prasad vs State of Uttar Pradesh[4] and Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab[5]. If the Supreme Court turns down the appeal against capital punishment , the guilty can submit a mercy petition to the President of India or the Governor of the concerned State.

DEATH PENALTY CRIMES:

Some offences which are punishable by Death are discussed below:

  • Aggravated Murder: It is punishable by death in accordance with section 302of IPC, 1860.
  • Terrorism: Use of explosives to cause explosion in order to endanger life or cause serious damage to private as well as public property. Offenders are punishable by death penalty.
  • Gang Rapes: Gang Rapes are punishable with death penalties.
  • Treason: The death penalty is given to any person who is waging or trying war against the Government.

CONCLUSION:

Usually, courts exercise their power to award capital punishment in extremely rare cases, but also many of these death sentences are commutated to lifetime imprisonment on the grounds of health, pregnancy and family conditions etc. whenever any court awards a death sentence, it indicates special reasons for giving such punishment. We are focusing more on alternative punishment methods so as to avoid death penalty. In death penalty the guilty intends to submit mercy petition, so as to avoid death and reduction in punishment. Everyone is afraid of death as we all know it is the ultimate truth of life.

REFERENCES:


[1] (1983) 4 SSC 645

[2] 2018

[3] A.I.R 1973, S.C 947

[4] A.I.R 1979, S.c.p.916

[5] A.I.R 1980,S.C 898

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