India is a country which consist of large number of crimes and criminals. In India all punishments are based on the motive to give penalty for the wrongdoer. There are two main reasons for imposing the punishment, one is the wrongdoer should suffer and other one is imposing punishment on wrongdoers discourages other from doing wrong. There are different kinds of punishment in India based on their offence such as capital punishment1 , imprisonment, life imprisonment with fine, etc.
Capital Punishment is one of the important part of Indian criminal justice system. Crimes result in death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital punishment is derived from the Latin word “capitalis” means “regarding the head”. The term death penalty is also known as capital punishment. Capital Punishment is a process by a person is put to death by a state for their criminal offence. Capital punishment or death penalty means the offender sentenced to death by the court of law for a criminal offence. Capital punishment which has been awarded for the most grievous crimes against humanity. Death penalty differs from place to place, state to state and country to country. There are many human rights movements in India which says capital punishment is immoral. The human rights organisations are argued that capital punishment affect one person’s right. In jurisprudence, criminology and penalty, capital punishment means a sentence of death. Indian criminal jurisprudence is based on the combination of two theories. The constitution also gave powers to president and governor to suspend or pardon death sentence. In India capital punishment is awarded for the most serious and grievous offences. Capital punishment is given for murder, robbery with murder, waging war against the government and abetting mutiny, etc. The death sentence is given only when the court comes to an end that life imprisonment is insufficient, based on situation of the case.
A death sentence is a legal process where a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime committed by him. The judicial decree that someone should be punished in this manner is called a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is called an execution. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offenses. The term capital has a Latin origin from the term capitalist, literally “regarding the head”. It refers to a sentence that condemns a convicted defendant to death. It is also an affliction or a situation that is considered to be fatal; also, a prognosis of death.
Methods of Execution to Death:
The various types of methods of execution are as follows:
- Death by burning: This type of execution was seen in the famous situation of Joan of Arc who was sentenced to death by burning on the ground that she was a witch.
- Wheel: The process can include rolling a wheel full of spikes on top of a person or attaching a person to a wheel and roll him down a hill.
- Execution by firing: The most common form of execution during World War II whereby a firing squad is called and then the accused person is tied to a pole and then fired upon.
- Headman’s Axe: This is the method by which the head is placed on a wooden platform and the executioner chops off the head of the convict by the use of an axe.
- Guillotining: Another common form of execution seen in the French Revolution. Dr. Joseph Guillotine was the person who invented this method whereby the accused person’s head was placed in a round hole on a wooden block and a blade is dropped cutting the person’s head.
- Gas chambers: The most common form of execution seen in Nazi Germany whereby the enemies of Adolf Hitler were sent to concentration camps. They were sent to chambers where toxic gas is to be released killing the people.
Position of Death Penalty ni India
Since the last 20 years, India’s execution rates have reduced drastically.
Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees to its citizens the right to life and personal liberty which includes the right to live with dignity. According to this article, no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. This means that a person’s life and personal liberty can be disputed only if that person has committed a crime. Therefore, the state may take away or abridge even right to life in the name of law and public order following the procedure established by law. But this procedure must be “due process” as held in Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India(1978). The procedure which takes away the sacrosanct life of a human being must be just, fair and reasonable. In Mithu v. the State of Punjab (2001), the Supreme Court declared that section 303 is unconstitutional because it is not in tune with articles 14 and 21 of the constitution.
In India, non-governmental organizations are fighting against inhuman, degrading and cruel punishment and protection of human rights. Although judiciary has evolved the principle of “rarest of rare cases” and has indicated that it is with special reasons that death penalty must be imposed in cases of exceptional and aggravating circumstances where offenses are very grave in nature, the application of the principle itself, as evident from a plethora of cases, is in violation of Constitutional provisions. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, an eminent jurist and former judge of the Supreme Court of India was himself against death sentence. According to Justice Iyer, life is given by God and can be taken away by God himself. The state does not have the right to take away a person’s life. Execution by state amounts to inhumanity. He further stated that Gandhi’s country must set an example by abolishing death penalty. Even if supported by a judicial decision, the state must not hang a person.
The condition of people undergoing death sentence is quite horrendous when compared to the Indian Context. Various studies conducted by different organizations have found that the death convicts undergo both physical and mental torture while waiting for the news on what day they are to be executed. Taking the case of Devendra Pal Singh Bhullar, who was accused in the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case, was languishing in jail till his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014. The prisoners themselves are “mentally dead” as they keep on waiting for the day of their execution which in fact keeps on getting delayed.
Death penalty is itself an offense against humanity. God has given us life and no state has the right to take it. Thus the process of death sentence should be declared unconstitutional and as an offense against human rights. The government must take into consideration the negative aspects of sentencing to death and must take steps to delete such provisions relating to death sentence away from the law. The process of death sentence is long and therefore the convicted prisoners undergo both physical as well as mental torture. This causes them to literally beg for death. Such a situation must not be faced by any human being, be it a convict or not. Although actual executions of convicts punished with death penalty are decreasing in number, yet a lot has to be done to fasten the procedure for those waiting on death row and also comply with India’s international commitments.
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