Overview of Capital Punishment In India

Overview of Capital Punishment In India

Capital Punishment in India

Overview of Capital Punishment in India. The fear of death is probably the best deterrent that keeps the offender faraway from the criminality. The death penalty in the crime of murder serves as an efficient deterrent to remind the murderer about the severity of the law. And which certainly helps in reducing the incidence of homicide.

Overview of Capital Punishment In India

Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment

Criminal justice in the past reveals that the death penalty was commonly utilized in cases of heinous crime. The common modes of inflicting death sentence like drowning, burning, boiling, beheading. It also includes throwing before the wild breast, skinning off alive, stoning, strangling, shooting by gun etc.

Hanging the offender till death in public places was a standard mode of putting to an end of the lifetime of an offender. This barbarous method of punishing criminals to death was justified on the ground it was the quickest and easiest mode of punishment. And at the same time it carries an element of deterrence.

Deterrence means discouraging the offender by terror from repeating the crime. And at the same time preventing others from following the example. Thus, arrest, trial, conviction and sentence may have little effect on habitual offenders or harden criminals. But same may act as a powerful deterrent to an average law-abiding citizen. Undoubtedly, of all the punishments, the death penalty appears as the strongest deterrent as no man would willingly give his life.

Modes of Execution of Capital Punishment In India

That the common mode of execution of death sentence in the different parts of the world are electrocution, guillotine, shooting, gas chamber, hanging, lethal injection, etc. The method of electrocution consists of a prisoner to a heavy charge of electric current.

Guillotine is a kind of machine erected method for execution for criminals. Shooting as a mode of execution used for offences tried in military courts. Gas Chamber was used in the western world for execution of death sentence. The condemned prisoner was put to death by being strapped in a chair in a sealed gas chamber into which poisonous fumes of cyanide are injected. The method 0f hanging the prisoner till death has commonly used in almost all the countries for ages. Public hanging is unconstitutional in India.

To refrain people from crimes like murder, the death penalty was necessary. And in the absence of this mode of punishment people would devour each other as the fish do in water, the stronger eating up the weaker.

Law Commission report -Overview of Capital Punishment In India

Law Commission suggests that capital punishment acts as an effective and deterrent. Capital punishment is the paramount need for maintaining law and order in this country, we can not risk the experiment of abolition. This is perhaps the most appropriate approach to the problem of capital punishment so far Indian Criminal Justice is concerned.

Indian Law on capital punishment

Members of the judiciary have divided on the crucial issue of life or death sentence. Those who support abolition, argue that the death penalty is degrading and contrary to the notion of dignity. On the other hand, retentionist justify that capital punishment as socially necessary having the unique deterrent force.

The amendments made in criminal law from time to time has shifted the trend towards the imposition of a death sentence for the offences of murder. Before 1955, judicial discretion in awarding a lesser penalty instead of a death sentence and requiring a judge to record his reason for awarding a lesser punishment. The amendment act of 1955 has withdrawn the restrictions on the discretion of the judge to record the reasons for awarding a lesser punishment of life imprisonment to the murderer.

Judicial Trend on Capital Punishment In India

Criminal procedure code 1973 also contains provisions of the death sentence. Section 354(3) provides that the court must record special reasons justifying the sentence while awarding death sentence. And state as to why an alternative sentence would not meet the end of justice. Criminal procedure code 1973 further requires that the Sessions Judge can not execute the death sentence. But the session judge can execute the death sentence only after confirmation of the High Court. Section 235(2) of the code further caste a statutory duty upon the court to hear the accused on the point of the sentence.

It is thus evidently clear that a heavy-duty cast by section 302 of IPC on the judge of choosing between death and imprisonment of life for the person found guilty of murder. It expects to discharge in a highly responsible manner by complying with section 354(3) and 235(2) of Cr.P.C.

Besides statutory provisions, the constitution of India also empowers the president and the governor of the state to grant pardon to the offender in appropriate cases.

Mode of execution of death sentence

Section 354(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 requires that when a person sentenced to death, the judge in his sentencing order shall direct the condemned person hanged by the neck till he is dead. The constitutional validity of this mode of execution of the death sentence has challenged in Dina Vs. State of UP. As it was violative of Article 21 of the constitution as an act that is barbarous and inhuman. The supreme court, however, has rejected the contention. And held that it is the only convenient and relatively less painful mode of executing the death sentence.

Rarest of rare case

The present law relating to capital punishment answers the need of time. Because of the present deteriorating law and order situation in India, the total abolition of the death sentence would mean giving a long rope to dangerous offenders to commit murder and heinous crime.

The proper approach to the problem, that capital punishment must retain for hardened criminals. But it shall limit to ‘rarest of rare case’.

The present position of capital punishments

As per the Cornell Centre of death Penalty, 720 prisoners have executed in India since 1947. Nathuram Godse and Narain Apte assassins of Mahatma Gandhi, had hanged to death in Haryana on 15 November 1949.

The offence punishable with death term in India falls under the POCSO Act 2012, SCST Act 1989, Unlawful Activities Act,1967, MCOCA Act 1999, NDPS Act 1985, etc.

The last execution takes place in India on 30 July 2015 of Yakub Menon, who is convicted in financing the 1993 Mumbai Bombing. Mohd. Afzal Guru hanged on 9 Feb 2013, who was convicted in parliament attack. Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the 2008 Mumbai Attack gunman hanged to death on 6 May 2010. Read the complete article here.


Capital punishment does not offer an opportunity for the offender to reform himself.  Time is not yet ripe when the complete abolition of capital punishment without endangering the social security. Nowadays, the retention of capital punishment seems to be morally and legally justified. It set as a reminder to everyone that in case of unpardonable crime one has to forfeit his right to life and survival.

Overview of Capital Punishment.

Also read What is the meaning of Parole to the prisoner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *