Death penalty by Hanging


  • In 2013, the Supreme Court had asked Law Commission to examine whether death penalty is deterrent punishment or is retributive justice or serves an incapacitative goal.
  • In its report in 2015, Law Commission, ten headed by Justice A P Shah, had proposed abolition of capital punishment for non-terrorism cases (i.e. it should be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism related offences and waging war).
  • According to Law Commission’s Report, India is among handful of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq that still carry out executions.
  • At end of 2014, 98 countries had abolished death penalty, 7 had abolished it for ordinary crimes, and 35 were abolitionists in practice, making 140 countries abolitionists in law or practice.


Supreme Court seeks less painful means of execution

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that there is no viable method at present other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners
  • Lethal injections are unworkable and often fail
  • The government was responding to a query from the court on alternative modes of execution


Supreme Court’s view:

  • The court had previously said a condemned convict should die in peace and not in pain
  • A human being is entitled to dignity even in death
  • The court had asked the government to consider the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death


Constitutionality of death penalty:

  • The court has already clarified that it is not questioning the constitutionality of death penalty
  • It has been well-settled by the apex court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980
  • Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, has already been upheld


Death by lethal injections:

  • Death by lethal injection is practiced in the U.S., China, Thailand, Vietnam and a few other countries
  • The Law Commission of India had recommended lethal injection for death penalty



Views of States:

  • The 12 out of 14 states/UTs have replied to Home Ministry that capital punishment or death penalty should stay, as it serves to act as deterrent in cases of heinous crimes such as murder and rape. 
  • The Home Ministry had forwarded proposal to abolish death penalty to states/UTs based on recommendation of Law Commission of India (LCI).




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