We have come across various rise and fall of different dynasties through the
passing centuries. The only one thing which is common between them was the use
of death punishment as a means of serving justice. The death penalty was awarded
only to the person who have committed most cruel kind of act and for that act
death penalty is considered as a least punishment. The capital punishment is a
punishment which was given all over the world and it is considered as a means
which saves the justice.
Nowadays in India, both the country and the crime rates
are increasing at the same time. The crime rates have to be controlled to keep
the country at peace. Though there is lot of legislation in India to control and
stop the crimes, but those punishments are not enough to stop the increasing
crimes in India. The punishments which are awarded to the offenders must be
sever to reduce the crime rates.
There are different kinds of punishments like
capital punishment, life imprisonment, imprisonment etc., among them capital
punishment is most severe form. But the death penalty was awarded only at the
rarest of the rare cases. This paper focus on the death penalty or capital
punishment. It also concentrates on the modes of capital punishment and also
about the positive and negative impacts on the society. The constitution has
also given powers to the Governor and president to suspend the death penalty.
This article through light on the reason for death penalty and its impact on the
society and on the wrongdoer.
Death Penalty In India
India has a large number of crimes and criminals. The punishments are given to
the wrongdoer on the basics of their motive to do that offence. There are two
main reason behind imposing those punishments, one is the wrongdoer must suffer
for his mistake and the second one is that he must not repeat that mistake again
in his lifetime. To punish the wrongdoer the legislature has imposed may rules
and various kinds of punishments.
Among the different kinds of punishment death
penalty is the highest degree of punishment given to the offenders. The capital
punishment or death punishment has been defined as the execution of an offender
who is sentenced to death after convicted by the court of law. The infliction of
death by an authorized public authority as a punishment is capital
Capital punishment plays an important role in the Indian criminal
justice system. The term capital punishment has been derived from the Latin word
“capitalis” which means “regarding the head”. In many of the country's capital
punishment is a long-established element of criminal justice. The offender
sentenced to death by the court of law for the criminal offence committed by him
is known as death penalty or capital punishment.
This capital punishment has
been awarded only in the rarest of the rare cases or for the most grievous
crimes against humanity. Death penalty differs from place to place and also
differs from state to state and even from country to country.
The death penalty is executed in different modes or methods. There are nine
methods of execution of death penalty. The following are them: hanging, shooting
by firing squad, shooting, beheading, lethal injection, stoning, gas chamber,
electrocution, and falling from an unknown height. Hanging is the most common
method authorized by law and electrocution, gas chamber, and falling from a
height is the least common methods.
In most of the cases death penalty is
executed by hanging the offender. Under the Indian penal code section 53 deals
with the kinds of punishment in which death penalty comes first. It states that
the death penalty can be awarded for the 11 cases. They are waging war against
the government of India, abetting munity, giving or fabricating false evidence
whereby an innocent person suffers death, threatening any person to give false
evidence resulting in conviction and death of an innocent person, murder,
abetment of suicide of a minor or insane or intoxicated person, attempt to
murder by life convicts if hurt is caused, kidnapping for ransom, rape causing
death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of the victim, second or
subsequent offences punishable under section 376, 376-A or 376-D of Indian
penal code and dacoity with murder. But the death penalty is awarded only for
the rarest of the rare cases.
An offender committing a murder and other capital
offences can be awarded the death sentence. But the decision to award death
sentence must be based on cogent reasons and should not be given as a matter of
rule. Elaborate reason must be recorded by the court for choosing death penalty
over the sentence of life imprisonment. The Supreme Court is of the opinion that
the death sentence should be awarded only in the rarest of the rare cases.
In Raghubir Singh v. state of Haryana
, a treacherous murderer deserves
sterner sentence, but ameliorative features have to be noticed since judicial
temper has more components than indignation against murder. In Attorney general
of India v. Lachma Devi
, it was argued that the punishment of death was
improper, unjust and unreasonable as it violated article 14, 19 and 21 of the
Indian constitution. The Supreme Court discussed this problem in detail and
ruled by a majority of 4:1 that death penalty is not unjust. On the contrary it
is in the public interest. The rarest of rare doctrine has not been free from
inconsistencies in its application and the courts are still grappling with the
million-dollar question as to what case falls in this category.
The capital punishment should be retained to safeguard the society from the
criminals. The main aim behind the execution of death penalty is to satisfy the
society's feeling of hatred towards crimes. The security of the society lies in
removing the criminals from the society and the mercy petitions should be
rejected by the president and by the governor. There is no alternative
punishment for the capital punishment but life imprisonment is considered as
alternative but it has not effect.
The crime rate keeps on increasing. If one
offender is punished with death penalty it sets as an example for other
offenders. By giving lesser punishment the criminal will continue to do the same
offence. Compared to the life imprisonment, death penalty is quick and painless.
If death penalty is abolished it would embolden the criminal.
As a coin with two sides the death penalty also has a negative impact on the
society. This penalty is an admission of the state's failure to achieve
deterrence by threat of capital punishment. Criminal are also a human being and
they can be reformed. Death penalty is barbaric and cruel. The rich rules the
law and escapes from punishment, while the poor become its prey. Morally it is
unjustifiable because it is a murder by the state.
The death penalty itself is
an offence against the humanity. Nobody has a right to kill another person
because God has given as this life. If the state executes death penalty, the
state is considered to commit an offence of murder.
Arguably, capital punishment is here to stay in this country because the time is
not ripe for its abolition. In view of terrorism prevailing in Jammu and
Kashmir, Naxalite movement in Assam and Nagaland, and the various surreptitious
divisive movements that spread this evil in India, it is argued that the death
penalty should not be abolished. It would give encouragement to terrorism and
separatist force in India if the death penalty is abolished.
The Supreme Court
and the law commission are also of the same opinion. Hence the death penalty
plays an important role in criminal justice. It sets an example for the
criminals not to commit offence. To reduce the crime rate in India death penalty
is the only way.
- Walker, the oxford companion of law (1980 Edn.) 184.
- Sec 376 – punishment for rape; sec 376-A – rape leading to death; sec
376-D – gang rape.
- Bachan Singh v. state of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC (Cri) 580.
- (1975) 3 SCC 37; 1974 SCC (Cri) 733.
- 1989 supp (1) SCC 264: 1989 SCC (Cri) 413.
- 35th report (1967) and 262nd report (2015) of law commission of India.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Aiswarya Lakshmi.J.S
Authentication No: NV030811589483-3-1120