Thursday, 30 June 2022

Capital Punishment in India

                 Capital Punishment in India

Historically, death penalty was a very common norm which was followed in India. As per Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc), 1898 the death penalty was the default punishment for the offence of murder. But if the judge feels that the individual should be given life imprisonment rather than death penalty then there should be a reason stated in the Judgment. The reason should be clearly written and specified so that there should be no loophole present. With an amendment to the CrPc in 1955, the provision of specifying the reason for not imposing the death penalty was removed from which it can be inferred that there was no legislative preference between the two punishments. Further, in 1973, CrPc was amended again and around this time the norm was changed from death penalty to life imprisonment. That is why the death penalty was to be rewarded only in exceptional cases with special reasons. Else the life imprisonment was imposed. The amendment which took place in 1973 also separated the stages of criminal trial:

  1. One for Conviction.

  2. One for Sentencing.

In India, capital punishment is not only awarded in IPC offences but also in NON-IPC offences. The nature of crime in IPC are:

  1. Party to a criminal conspiracy

  2. Treason 

  3. Abetment of Mutiny

  4. Murder

  5. Kidnapping for ransom

  6. Rape of a child who is below 12 years

  7. Also includes gang rape of a child

  8. Dacoity

The nature of crime in NON-IPC offences are:

  1. Organizing crime which resulted in the death of the person in Andhra Pradesh Control of Organized Crime Act, 2001

  2. Offences committed related to the enemy in the Army Act, 1950

  3. Mutiny in Army Act, 1950

  4. Offences committed in relation to enemy and punishable with death in Assam Rifles Act, 2006

  5. Mutiny in Assam Rifles Act, 2006

  6. Desertion in Assam Rifles Act, 2006

  7. Civil offences in Assam Rifles Act, 2006

  8. Abetting Sati in The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987

  9. Grave breaches of Geneva Conventions in The Geneva Convention Act, 1960

  10. Repeated commission of offences involving commercial quantity of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance in The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

But there are many instances where this capital punishment is challenged in the court of law. Some of them are:

  1. In case of Bacchan Singh Vs State of Punjab, Section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 was challenged which stands for murder.

  2. Vikram Singh &Anr Vs. Union of India , Section 364 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 was challenged which stands for Kidnapping for ransom.

  3. Indian Harm Reduction Vs Union of India, Section 31A(1)  of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

In all the above cases, the whole Section was not challenged rather the punishment was challenged which was awarded in the case. It is important to note down that there are many countries in which capital punishments are abolished for the reason that humanity is also something. It is neither a show happening nor a early age period where everything is tit for tat. Head for head, hand for hand, leg for leg. The punishment is important but its not like death penalty should be only awarded. Therefore, India is one of the country who has not abolished the capital punishment but there is a positive change and that is now it is not a common norm to give death penalty as a punishment. For the highest crime, judges feel life imprisonment. Capital punishment are only awarded in exceptional cases where the offence has happened in a very inhuman way and the country has not witnessed it till now.


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