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Hanged Till Death; Analysis of Various modes of Execution in India

The Great Emperor Ashoka stated that "state should not punish with vengeance", which justifies that if a person convicted of murder is hanged to death, then this means that the law is avenging for the death of the victim which is not the sole purpose of giving punishment or doing justice.

The punishment system in India is based on two concepts i.e. reformation and deterrence. Reformation gives the convict a chance to contribute to the society by reflecting good behavior with their actions whereas deterrence aims at stopping the crime from its root due to its heavy impact or consequences. But the capital punishment being followed by the Indian judicial system is based on the concept of retribution which denotes that 'tit for tat', so by hanging the person who has committed a murder its believed that justice is being served to the victim.

Capital punishment i.e. the death penalty makes sure that the criminals will never ever commit the same crime as there are cases in our country where convicts who are sentenced to life prison have murdered fellow prisoner or prison guards. There's a saying that 'innocents must be valued over serial killers'.

In order to maintain a positive and crime free society the judiciary tries to maintain justice by giving death penalties to the sinners. If the offenders have committed crimes which not only harm an innocent person but also the nation and community have to suffer its consequences like terrorists, then the concept of capital punishment is justified.

Execution And Its Modes

The act of carrying out the sentence or punishment given by the courts is called as execution. In India the higher sentence given to a convict is by hanging by the neck or breaking the neck. Countries like Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Bangladesh, USA etc. also carries out hanging as punishment for serious offences.

Under The Army Act, The Air Force Act and The Navy Act the only method of execution is through shooting. The offences listed in sections 34(a) through (o) of the Air Force Act, 1950 may be punished with the death penalty, according to section 34 of that law. The Court Martial will decide whether to hang the person who is to be executed or to shoot him or her to death. Section 163 of the Act provides for the form of the sentence of death as;

"In awarding a sentence of death, a court-martial shall, in its discretion, direct that the offender shall suffer death by being hanged by the neck until he be dead or shall suffer death by being shot to death."[1]

According to the criteria established in Deena v. Union of India (1983)4 SCC 645, the death penalty must pass three tests:
  1. It should be as swift and easy as feasible; the act of execution should be free from anything that unduly heightens the poignancy of the prisoner's dread.
  2. The act of execution should result in the victim's rapid unconsciousness and hasty demise.
  3. It must be respectable.
  4. It shouldn't include being cut up.
The Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 53, lists five different types of penalties.
  • Death Sentence
  • Life in prison
  • Imprisonment
  • Rigorous
  • Simple
  • Forfeiting of assets
  • Fine

Imprisonment of Life:
Act XXVI of 1955 changed the phrase "transportation for life" to "incarceration for life. In its common usage, the term "life sentence" refers to incarceration for the entirety of the convicted person's natural life. According to Section 57, a sentence of life imprisonment is equated to a sentence of 20 years. However, primarily for the purposes of dividing up jail sentences into smaller amounts of time, a life sentence will be equated to 20 years. On the other hand, the period of a life sentence in jail is indefinite.

Forfeiture of Property:
Loss of accused person's property is implied by forfeiture. The state seizes the property of the offender as part of this penalty. It is the outcome of the error or oversight the individual caused. The forfeited property could be either moveable or immovable.

Arrest and Detention:
This is one of the several ways to carry out a decree covered by Section 55 of the CPC. If the order is to pay money, the judgement debtor may be imprisoned to carry it out. While a decree is being carried out, a judgment-debtor may be taken into custody at any time. The judgment-debtor must be brought before the court as quickly as possible after being arrested. No home house may be invaded before dawn or after dusk, according the law governing making an arrest.

Unless the judgment:
debtor is inside the home, blocking entry and refusing to leave, the house shouldn't be broken into. There is an exemption to this in Section 56 of the CPC. Women cannot be detained for carrying out the edict, according to section 56 of the CPC. The same rule applies to minors and the legal representative of a deceased judgment-debtor. Members of legislative bodies and members of the judiciary are other exceptions.

Around The World

USA also follows execution methods like gas chamber, firing squad, electrocution and lethal injection. Iran uses the method of pushing convicts from heights. In Sudan convicts are killed in the same way the victim was killed, this method is called as retributive sentences. There are 28 countries which use firing squad as execution method, many countries use hanging only in military courts.
  • Lethal Injection:
    Three substances are typically used in the deadly injection: potassium chloride, sodium pentothal, which acts as an anesthetic and paralyses the prisoner (used to stop the heart). It certainly has a scientific ring to it. The executions of some of the men and women who were given the death penalty by lethal injection, however, haven't gone "smoothly" due to botched executions by inexperienced prison staff. Dennis McGuire, an Ohio death row convict, took 26 minutes to pass away by lethal injection in March 2014 as he was lying on a gurney and opening and shutting his mouth. This method is used in China, USA, Vietnam.
  • Electrocution:
    A metal electrode in the shape of a skullcap is placed to the prisoner's scalp and forehead over a sponge soaked in saline after they have been shaven and confined to a chair. After that, the prisoner is made blind. The inmate is repeatedly given jolts between 500 and 2000 volts that endure for around 30 seconds until they are pronounced dead.

    Similar to the lethal injection, the electric chair is not entirely reliable. In 1990, Jesse Joseph Tafero experienced three electrical shocks, at which time six-inch flames shot from his skull. He then stopped breathing. The improper substitution of a synthetic sponge for a natural one was cited as the cause of this botched execution being the result of "inadvertent human error." Carried out in USA.
  • Shooting:
    In order to be put to death by firing squad, the prisoner is often strapped to a chair or a pole while standing and has a black hood drawn over their head. The shooters, who are typically five or more, aim at the prisoner's heart from a distance of up to 20 feet. The prisoner may bleed to death gradually if the shooters miss their target, whether on purpose or accidentally. Carried out in China, Indonesia, North Korea, Taiwan, Yemen, Somalia.
  • Beheading:
    Saudi Arabia frequently executes people by beheading them. Beheadings, a traditional method of execution, are performed in public with a sword, typically in a town square or adjacent to a prison. White is often the colour worn by both the executioner and the condemned, who are both typically tied, blindfolded, and given sedatives. In Saudi Arabia, "crimes" that are punishable by execution include adultery, blasphemy, fornication, homosexuality, and sorcery.

The morality of the death penalty is still a subject of discussion. Many nations have already abolished the death penalty, while others, like India, have complex procedures in place to determine whether or not someone should be given the death penalty. Although the Indian Law Commission advocated against this sentence, their suggestion went unheeded. The Supreme Court's theory of the Rarest of the Rare Case, which is currently in effect, is the law that is currently in force.

This is taken into account while deciding whether or not to impose such a punishment on a defendant, together with a list of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Even the required method of execution by the state is up for discussion, but whatever method is chosen must adhere to the international standards of being "quick and painless."

Last but not least, due diligence must be done before a person is given an order of execution because such a punishment is irreversible and permanent in nature. It is crucial that all pertinent information be taken into account before making such a decision, and if there is even the slightest doubt, such a punishment should not be given.


Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Samikshya Mohapatra
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Authentication No: AG360870833121-30-0823

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