Capital Punishment - Indian Perspective

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INDEX
1. Introduction …………………………………………………………………..4 2. Procedure when Death Penalty is Imposed………………………..6 3. Constitutional Validity of Death Penalty……………………………7 4. Evolving Parameters for Imposition of Death Penalty………..9 5. Similar Crimes, Different Punishment………………………………11 6. Sentencing Policy……………………………………………………………14 7. National Crime Record Bureau………………………………………..18-20 8. Bibliography…………………………………………………………………..21

INTRODUCTION

The Death Sentence is the harshest of punishments provided in the IPC, which involves the judicial killing or taking the life of the accused as a form of punishment. The question of whether the state has a right to take the life of a person, howsoever gruesome the offence he may have committed, has always been a contested issue between moralists who feel that the death sentence is required as a deterrent measure (if for nothing else), and the progressive who argue that judicial taking of life is nothing else but court mandated murder. The debate over the death penalty has in the recent past acquired renewed vigour. The government of the day has been insisting on the increased use of death penalty for crimes other than murder, particularly rape. Certain women’s group have welcomed this. The judiciary too has been awarding the death penalty for violent crimes with increased regularity. When designated court tried the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case recommended death penalty to all the 26 accused arraigned before it, it was time for the abolitionists to once again hold a banner of protest. Despite being party to the ICCPR, that requires a progression towards abolition of death penalty, India appears to be heading the other way. The need to revisit the contention that death penalty is a cruel punishment is inspired by two recent developments in the international spehere. The first is the judgement in 1995 of the South African Constitutional Court, declaring death penalty to be a cruel and inhuman punishment and therefore unconstitutional. This despite strong public opinion to the contrary. The Second is signing by 120 countries of the statue creating International Criminal Court, which was rejected the death penalty as a punishment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Finally, it is perhaps apposite to recapture the spirit of non-violence that fosters reconciliation while not compromising on truth. There is also a need to recognise the limitations of a judicial system that may be concerned only with what Albie Sachs calls the “microscopic truth”. It is never too late to realise the importance that a reformative theory of punishment has for lasting peace. The IPC provides for the capital punishment (imprisonment for life as an alternative punishment) for the following offences: (1) Treason, as in waging, attempting, or abetting war against the Government of India ( s 121) (2) Abetment of mutiny ( s 132) (3) Perjury resulting in the conviction and death of an innocent person (Section 194, Second Paragraph)

(4) Murder ( S 302)
(5) Abetment of a suicide by a minor or an insane person or an intoxicated person ( S 305 ) (6) Attempted murder by a life convict, if hurt is caused (Section 307, second paragraph); (7) Dacoity accompanied with murder ( s 396)

It is important to note that in the above-mentioned categories of offences, the death sentence only sets the upper limit of punishment. There is not a single offence in the IPC that is made punishable with mandatory sentence of death. No punishment in IPC provides for Death Penalty, except Section 303 which was held to be unconstitutional in Mithu Singh v. State of Punjab.

Procedure When Death Penalty is Imposed
It is clear that capital punishment is awarded only in two categories of offences, namely, treason and murder. However,...
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