Abolition of Death Penalty in India

    Edited by: Vaani Garg

     A death penalty is a legal process where the punishment of death is given to a person by the state for the crime committed by him. The legislature is guided by the political and public reaction which has immense faith in the death penalty as a punishment to a heinous crime. But irrespective of public notion, the law should consider the degree of crime while imposing the death penalty.

    Various levels of judiciary responses differently on the death penalty. Trial courts seem to exaggerate the affection of the death penalty. In 2018, it imposed the highest number of death sentences in the past two decades while appellate courts seem to be increasingly skeptical regarding the same. In 2018, the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech encouraged the death penalty. The main objective of the death sentence is to deter criminals from committing serious crimes and set a precedent for the society.

    In India, the death sentence violates the fundamental rights of the citizens (Article 21), but still, it is considered as constitutionally valid. In Bachan Singh vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that death sentence can be given only in ‘rarest of the rare case’, but neither in substantial law nor in procedural law the definition is written nor the procedure determining the, ‘rarest of the rare case’ is mentioned. A person not found guilty in the trial court later can be convicted for the crime. There is no proper criteria given by the SC regarding whom the death sentence can be awarded.

     A person who has committed heinous crimes such as gang rape, murder, or terrorism shouldn’t be hanged, instead, they should be given rigorous lifetime punishment. The offender should be educated in prison to become a better person. Indian law should make a proper definition of ‘rarest of the rare cases’.

    The death penalty is one of the most sensitive matters in India. According to Human Rights Organisations, it is cruel and disrespectful to human life. Rather than imposing the death penalty, the offender should be given a chance to change his mindset and behavior. The main aim of a democratic country is to remove crime from the country. UN supports the abolishment of the death penalty. The legislature and judiciary should implement laws that eliminate the crime, not the criminals.