Death Penalty: History & Analysis


In the passing yours, we all have seen the ups and downs of various dynamics but the one thing which is common in them were their use of death sentence for administering justice.

We look the time period of the Mauryan’ s, the concept followed by them to punish any person was “an eye for an eye”, ” A hand for a hand”, etc. Most of the dynasties followed different types of punishment, for example: they drag the body by house, they just cut ang part of the body to punish, the things which are basically brutal in nature. The concept of death penalty was first introduced in 18st century B.C by the king Hammurabi of Babylon, where, the death sentence was given by then in 25 different crimes. In the present time there are codified were for this.

What is death penalty?

Death penalty is also known as capital punishment, it’s a killing of a person as a punishment for a crime which duly approved by the state. When any offender is punished in such a manner then it’s called as death sentence, the process of killing of the person I known as execution.

The crime in which the punishment is death sentence are known as capital crime, it includes serious crimes against any person, for example murder, cases of rape, terrorism, war crime, along with the crime which are executed against the state and also in the cases which are given as rare of the rarest case. The word Capital has its origin from Latin, Capitalist, which means regarding the head. Section 368 of Criminal procedure gives High court the power for the confirmation of death sentence in India.

History of Death Penalty

The concept of death penalty comes up in the 18th century B.C in Kingdom of kin Hammurabi of Babylon, in its code there were total 25 different crimes mentioned in which death penalty was the punishment. The Death Penalty also seen in the code of Draconian in Athens; the code makes the death penalty compulsory in all types of crime cases.

The offenders get the punishment of death sentence in different manners like “burning alive”, “beating to death”and “drowning”. In 10th century Britain introduced the customary process for the execution, it was hanging.

Countries, who didn’t accept the death penalty has less no. of crime of murder in comparison to the countries who accept the death penalty. As per the report given by the United nation,more than one hundred fifty countries have abolished the practice of death penalty or they no longer use it.

The constitutional validity of the Death Sentence:

The validity of the death sentence was firstly challenged in the court of United States of America which took the first step towards the abolition of the death penalty and the first state, Pennsylvania successfully abolishes death penalty. In the court of United States different jurists have different points of views towards the unconstitutionality of the death sentence. But still, many countries have not yet abolished the death penalty, for example countries like India, Saudi Arabia, etc. Death penalty in India done by the method of hanging of the person by the neck. This method of punishment has been in the practice from the very old time and still not been abolished. 53rd section of the Indian penal code, 1860 talks about death sentence and 368th section of the criminal procedure gives the power to the High court for the confirmation of death sentence. Death penalty is given in the case which is rarest of the rare case. In case, Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, the supreme court of India said that the death penalty is only constitutional when the it applies as exception in the rarest of rare cases. The supreme court of India said that those murder which are committed in a very extremely manner are under rarest of the rare cases.

In India, the Crime which are Punishable by Death Penalty:

1. Aggravated murder: sec. 302 of the Indian penal code, 1860 says that murder is a punishable offence. In case, Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, the supreme court of India said that the death penalty is only constitutional when the it applies as exception in the rarest of rare cases.

The gravity of murder when the death sentence given to the offender:

I. In section 396 of IPC it’s mentioned that if any one person from the group commits murder, when conjointly committing Dacoity then every person of that group will be punishable with death sentence.

II. In section 364A it’s mentioned that if a person is kidnapped for ransom and get killed, then this offence is punishable by death sentence.

III.The Unlawful Activities Amendment Ordinance,2004, Article 6Member of association and use of gun and because of the death of any person happens the offender will be punishable by death sentence.

2. Offences related to Terrorism:The use of any special explosive which results in endanger of the lives of people or it causes any high gravity loss to the property then that crime is punishable by death, it’s mentioned under section 3(b) of the Explosive substance (Amendment) Act, 2001.

3. Aggravated Rape: A offender during time of crime kills the victim or left the victim in persistent vegetative state will be punishable by death sentence, and it’s stated in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

4. Treason: Committing of waging or attempt to wage war against the government of country and officers, soldiers, India navy, Army or Air force in committing mutiny then the offence is punishable by death sentence.

5. Kidnapping:Abduction or kidnapping of a person is a crime which is punishable by death sentence, its mentioned under Indian penal code.

International point of view

Many countries and organisations have criticised the concept of death penalty. United nation general assembly said that, every country should follow the fair high standard trial in view of capital punishment.There are so many international laws that are in favour of abolition of the death penalty like, TheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 5 and International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, 1966, Article 7 says that no one will be tortured or to cruel or punished in such way.


In my view death penalty must be the in the law of a country but obviously apply in a fair and standard manner. It should be given in the rarest cases which involves the aggrieved and inhuman crime.


 This concept exists in the laws because there are crimes which shock the conscience of the society, and yes, they deserve to be punished in this way. However, this kind of punishment takes the life of the criminals. The offenders are threat to the people of the society but still the part of the society so they should have been reformed and not removed.


  4. Section 302, 396, 394A of IPC

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