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Source: The post is based on the article “Abolition is the way: On the higher judiciary’s move on the death penalty” published in The Hindu on 23rd March 2023.
Syllabus: GS – 2: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.
Relevance: About death sentences.
News: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to provide data which may point to less painful, more dignified and socially acceptable methods to carry out death sentences other than death by hanging.
What was the case about and What is the Centre’s stand on death by hanging?
|Read here: SC Bench seeks data on alternatives to hanging|
What are the observations of the SC on death sentences?
Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980) case: The court upheld the death penalty, but limited it to the ‘rarest of rare cases’,
Deena Dayal vs Union of India And Others (1983) case: The court upheld the executing method by ruling that hanging is “as painless as possible” and “causes no greater pain than any other known method”.
Evolved clemency jurisprudence: This makes decisions on mercy petitions justiciable and penalises undue delay in disposing of mercy pleas by commuting death sentences to life.
What are the recommendations of the Law Commission on death sentences?
The 35th Report of the Law Commission (1967) noted electrocution, use of a gas chamber and lethal injection can be considered as less painful. However, the commission was not in a position to come to a conclusion. So, it refrained from recommending any change.
What should be done on the question of death sentences?
Humanise the approach further: Instead of debating the manner of execution, a wider debate on abolishing the death penalty should be carried out. This is because any form of execution is a fall from humaneness, offends human dignity and perpetrates cruelty.
If eliminating cruelty and indignity is the aim, abolition of death sentences is the answer.