Capital Punishment In India: Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is legal in India but is only used in the “rarest of rare” cases. The death penalty can be imposed under various laws in India, including the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and special laws such as the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. In India, the death penalty can be imposed for crimes such as murder, terrorism, and certain types of drug trafficking. The process for imposing the Capital punishment in India involves a trial by a court, followed by an appeal to a higher court. If the appeal is rejected, the President of India has the power to either grant clemency or confirm the death sentence.
What is Capital Punishment In India?
Capital punishment in India, also known as the death penalty, is a legal punishment. It is the highest form of punishment that can be imposed by the state for a crime committed by an individual. In India, the death penalty can be awarded to a person convicted of certain crimes such as murder, terrorism-related offenses, and some cases of drug trafficking. Here are some more important points on death penalty:
- The death penalty in India is carried out by hanging, as per the law.
- The execution of the Capital punishment in India is carried out in a jail, within the walls of the prison.
- The decision to award the death penalty is taken by the court, and it can be challenged in higher courts.
- It is worth noting that there has been a long-standing debate the use of Capital punishment in India, with arguments both for and against it.
- While some argue that it is a necessary deterrent against heinous crimes, others argue that it is a cruel and inhumane form of punishment, and that there is a risk of wrongful conviction.
- Despite this ongoing debate, the death penalty remains a legal punishment in India.
- According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 109 death sentences awarded in India in 2019, but only 4 executions took place.
- There have also been calls to review the criteria for determining “rarest of rare” cases and to reduce the number of crimes for which the death penalty can be imposed.
History of Capital Punishment in India
Capital punishment in India has been a part of India’s legal system for centuries. In ancient India, the punishment for certain serious crimes such as murder, treason, and rebellion was death. During the British colonial period in India (1757-1947), capital punishment was widely used as a means of maintaining law and order. The British introduced a number of laws that made the death penalty mandatory for certain offenses, such as murder, dacoity (banditry), and drug trafficking. Here are some more important points on the history of death penalty in India:
- After India gained independence in 1947, the death penalty continued to be used as a punishment for certain crimes, but the laws governing its use were gradually reformed.
- The first major reform came in 1955, when the Indian Penal Code was amended to give judges the discretion to impose a sentence of life imprisonment instead of the death penalty in cases of murder.
- In 1973, the Supreme Court of India handed down a landmark judgment in the case of Jagmohan Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh, in which it held that the death penalty should be imposed only in the “rarest of rare” cases.
- This judgment has since been interpreted to mean that the death penalty should be used only in cases where the crime is exceptionally heinous and where there is no possibility of reform or rehabilitation of the offender.
Since then, the use of the death penalty in India has become increasingly controversial, with human rights activists and other groups calling for its abolition. Despite this, the death penalty is still in use in India today, and is imposed for a variety of crimes, including murder, terrorism, and drug trafficking.
Crimes Punishable with Capital Punishment in India
The use of Capital punishment in India is still legal for certain offenses. However, the Capital punishment in India is only awarded in the “rarest of rare” cases, and is subject to strict legal procedures and numerous checks and balances. The following are some of the crimes that are punishable by the death penalty in India:
- Murder with special circumstances: Murder committed with the intention of killing a public servant, such as a judge or a police officer, or a member of the armed forces during war time.
- Terrorist activities: Waging war against the country or abetting it, terrorist attacks, attempting to assassinate the President or the Prime Minister.
- Rape: Rape resulting in the victim’s death, or where the victim is left in a persistent vegetative state, or the rapist is a repeat offender.
- Drug trafficking: Aggravated drug trafficking offenses involving commercial quantities of prohibited substances.
- Offenses against the State: Espionage, mutiny, or attempting to overthrow the government by force.
- Abetment of suicide by a child or insane person.
It is important to note that the application of the death penalty is not uniform across India and varies between different states. The decision to impose the death penalty is made on a case-by-case basis by the trial court, and the verdict can be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court of India.
Capital Punishment in India Debate
Capital punishment in India has been a subject of controversy and debate in India. The constitutionality of Capital punishment in India has been challenged before the courts on several occasions. Here are some key case laws regarding the constitutional validity of capital punishment in India:
- Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980): In this landmark case, the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty while laying down certain guidelines to be followed by trial courts in determining whether a convict should be sentenced to death or not. The court held that the death penalty should be imposed only in “the rarest of rare cases” where the alternative punishment is unquestionably inadequate and where the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances. The court also held that the procedure for awarding the death penalty should be fair, just and reasonable.
- Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab (1983): In this case, the Supreme Court of India further elaborated on the guidelines laid down in Bachan Singh’s case. The court held that the following factors should be considered while determining whether a case falls within the “rarest of rare” category: (a) the manner of commission of the crime, (b) the motive for the crime, (c) the anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of the crime, (d) the magnitude of the crime, (e) the personality of the victim of the crime, and (f) the character and conduct of the accused.
- Jagmohan Singh v. State of U.P. (1973): In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that the death penalty is not violative of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
- Rajendra Prasad v. State of U.P. (1979): In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that the death penalty is not violative of Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, as long as the procedure for awarding the death penalty is fair, just and reasonable.
Judiciary Related Links:
9th Schedule Of Indian Constitution