IAS Preparation - Current Affairs: Capital Punishment

The Law Commission of India received a reference from the Supreme Court in Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar v. Maharashtra and Shankar Kisanrao Khade v. Maharashtra, to study the issue of the death penalty in India to “allow for an up-to-date and informed discussion and debate on the subject” and accordingly The Law Commission came out with a report on July 11th.

The recommendations and the process of how The Law Commission of India came to these conclusions is important and questions can be expected in the Ethics paper as well as Paper 2.

We will talk about The Death Penalty and Law Commission’s recommendations in this engaging video.

In this article, we have further discussed what is capital punishment and its various aspects for the IAS Exam aspirants. 

What is Capital Punishment?

The Capital Punishment or death penalty is a legal punishment in India and is permissible for some crimes under the country’s main substantive penal legislation, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as other laws.

Death Penalty in India

Prior to the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act [Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr PC)] of 1955, the death penalty was the rule and life imprisonment an exception in India.

As per official statistics, 720 executions have taken place in India since it became independent in the year 1947. 

As per Section 354 (3) of the Cr PC, 1973 the courts are required to state reasons in writing for awarding the maximum penalty.

Some cases in India related to capital punishment:

  • Bachan Singh v/s. State of Punjab: In this case, the Supreme Court pointed out some important limitations on the prosecution by setting the rarest of the rare doctrine. The SC said a real and abiding concern for the quality of mortal life presuppositions resistance to taking a life through the law’s machinery. That ought to not be done except in rarest of rare cases where the choice opinion is clearly foreclosed.
  • Mukesh and Anr v/s NCT Delhi:  The Supreme Court rejected the convict’s appeal and said that they had committed a barbaric crime that had shaken society’s heart, the court upheld the death judgment of the four who had been charged with the murder. The verdict was well entered by the family of the victim and the civil society.
  • Shabnam v/s State of Uttar Pradesh: Shabnam will be the first woman after independence who has got the punishment of the death penalty.

Know more about the Indian Judiciary at the linked article. 

Arguments Favourable of Capital Punishment

Many arguments have been made in favour of Capital Punishment in India. Discussed below are the same:

  • Retribution: The punishment must be equivalent to the severity of the crime. Real justice requires people to suffer for their wrongdoing and to suffer in a way appropriate for the crime. Each criminal should get what their crime deserves and in the case of a murderer what their crime deserves is death.
  • Any criminal must be punished as per the crime committed by them so that justice is granted to the victim
  • It is also believed that the death penalty or capital punishment may provide closure and justice to the victim’s family
  • It is also believed that the death penalty can lead to some form of rehabilitation and escape punishment in the next life.
  • Capital punishment is often justified with the argument that capital punishment causes deterrence. 

Arguments Against Capital Punishment

  • There is a probability that an innocent may get punished or the crime may have been committed in unfavourable conditions.
  • It may cause emotional or mental breakdown for the accused’s family.
  • The anticipatory suffering of the criminal, who may be kept on death row for many years, makes the punishment more severe than just depriving the criminal of life.
  • The statistical evidence doesn’t confirm that deterrence reduced the crime rate.
  • There are some examples of persons who were condemned to death taking the opportunity of the time before execution to repent, express remorse, and very often experience profound spiritual rehabilitation.

Aspirants can also know the detailed UPSC Syllabus for the prelims and mains examination at the linked article. 

For the latest exam updates, study material, notes and preparation tips, visit BYJU’S. 

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