CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

INTRODUCTION

“Capital Punishment is against the better judgment of modern criminology, and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of god.”

                                                                                                       -Martin Luther king, Jr. 

India is a country having a population of over one billion. This number is still rising quickly, and the rate of crime is rising along with it. Every country enacts a set of criminal laws to safeguard citizens’ rights and restore public confidence in the judicial system. Its primary goal is to penalize the criminal so that others would be deterred from committing similar offenses. By definition, the practice of executing someone while the law is still in effect is known as capital punishment. No matter how advanced our judicial system becomes, it will always be gullible toward human failings. The death sentence is also a particularly severe punishment in comparison to any other penalties imposed by the law on the perpetrator. In no way can the taking of human life be justified based on a legal system that was made by the people. Death is something that cannot be stopped, thus people need to appreciate life because it is so valuable.[1]

The death penalty, often known as capital punishment, is the execution of a person who has been found guilty and condemned to death by a court of law. One of the crucial components of the death penalty in India is the criminal justice system.[2] The Indian Penal Code, which serves as the nation’s primary substantive penal law, as well as additional laws, permit the execution of some criminals through the use of the death penalty. Hanging is the method of execution.[3]

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN INDIA

One of the most contentious issues in India has been the use of the death penalty, but it is important to remember that it is an essential component of the country’s criminal justice system. A growing human rights movement in India has begun to challenge the legitimacy of the death penalty, but it is a strange justification for preserving one person’s life while endangering the lives of numerous other prospective victims, which is unjust. After being found guilty of a crime in court, the perpetrator is sentenced to death, which is known as capital punishment. It differs from other extrajudicial executions that take place without following the proper legal procedures. The terms “death penalty” and “capital punishment” are sometimes used interchangeably, but the death sentence does not always result in execution because life in prison is an option. One of the harshest types of punishment, the death penalty is only permitted in the most heinous and anti-humanity crimes. The definition of the same differs from nation to nation.[4]

The Supreme Court in Jagmohan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh[5] case rejected the claim that the same violated Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which protects the “right to life.”

Rajendra Prasad v. State of U.P[6] Justice Krishna Iyer empathetically stressed that the death penalty is violative of Article-14, 19 and 21.

 Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab[7] One year after Rajendra Prasad v. State of U.P., the same case set a precedent. The Supreme Court reversed the ruling in the aforementioned case by a vote of 4:1 (dissented by Justice Bhagwati). It was stated that the word “public order” proposed in Article-19(2) to Article-19(4) is different from “law and order” and also introduced the notion of imposing the death penalty in “rarest of rare circumstances,” even though it violates Articles 14, 19, and 21. The Supreme Court acknowledged Article 21 as the State’s authority to take someone’s life. The Delhi gang rape case, which requested the guilty be given the death penalty, showed the same thing. After 8 years of waiting, the four accused were finally hanged on March 20, 2020, putting out the national fire that had been raging.

In Macchi Singh v. State of Punjab[8], the Supreme Court established guidelines for when the death penalty may be applied, taking into account the crime’s gravity, the victim’s nature, and whether it was committed in a social or anti-social manner.

The “Doctrine of Rarest of Rare” is not referenced in any statute, law, or act, nor is it based on any legal text or reference; rather, it is only the outcome of the traditional customs and traditions that our Indian courts have upheld since ancient times. If it is determined that the case is covered by this doctrine, which is extremely shocking and mind-boggling and the commission of such a crime is an exception, the court will then pronounce the decision to execute the offender, taking into account the case’s sensitivity or gravity. As a rule, the judiciary abstains from imposing capital punishment on the accused, instead choosing to punish them with life in prison in the most delicate situations. Mens rea as well as actus reus should be present.[9]

CONCLUSION

Although it has been used since the time of kings and emperors, the death penalty or capital punishment is an offense against human rights. The right to life, personal liberty, and the death sentence are all guaranteed by Articles 21 of the Indian Constitution and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are utterly at odds with one another. The death sentence should therefore be deemed unlawful and against human rights. The main reason for using the death sentence in India is to stop the rise in crime. But when we examine the crime rates in our country, the death penalty has not shown to be a useful tool in reducing the rate. Even the Law Commission of India stated in its report that all crimes in India should no longer carry the death penalty, except those involving terrorism. And to punish offenders and teach them to become better people and law-abiding citizens of the country, we need to adopt a reformative method of punishment. Lawmakers should take the necessary actions to get rid of the death penalty in society. Because the crime rate in India cannot be effectively controlled.[10]

Author’s Name: Archana K Chandran (Advocate)

References:

[1]‘Capital Punishment’, Ananya Singh, <https://indianlawportal.co.in/capital-punishment/> accessed on November 10,2022

[2]‘All you need to know about Capital Punishment in India’, Khushi Agrawal ,< https://blog.ipleaders.in/capital-punishment-2/> accessed on November 10, 2022 

[3]< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment> accessed on November 10,2022

[4] ‘Capital Punishment in India: An Overview’, Shubhangi Sharma, <https://www.lawcolumn.in/capital-punishment-in-india-an-overview/ > accessed on November 11,2022

[5] Jagmohan v. State of Uttar Pradesh.,(1973) 2 SCR 541. 

[6] Rajendra Prasad v. State of Uttar Pradesh., (1979) 3 SCC 646.

[7] Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1980 SC 89.

[8] Macchi Singh v. State of Punjab., (1983) AIR 957.

[9] ‘Capital Punishment in India’, Sukriti Dubey, <https://www.legalbites.in/capital-punishment-in-india/> accessed on November 11,2022

[10]‘Capital Punishment in India- A Critical Analysis’, Prateek Jain, <https://journal.indianlegalsolution.com/2020/04/15/capital-punishment-in-india-a-critical-analysis-prateek-jain/ > accessed on November 11,2022

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