Comment on death penalty in India. Give arguments in favour of and against continuing death penalty in present era.

Recently, the Supreme Court of India has referred the matter of capital punishment to a five-member Constitution Bench for giving the offenders an opportunity to present mitigating factors and circumstances so that they can better plead for a life term instead of a death sentence.

Death Penalty:

  • A Death penalty or capital punishment is the highest possible punishment that can be awarded to an individual under specified law.
  • Generally, it is awarded in extremely rare cases of murder, rapes, treason etc.
  • Before independence, it was a very common punishment, used to deter freedom fighters.
  • However, after Independence it has significantly reduced with a new era of the judicial system of India.

Arguments in favour of death penalty:

  • The death penalty is seen as an effective deterrent for the worst crimes.
  • The Law Commission favoured retaining the death penalty by citing it necessary for maintenance of law and order, and said that India cannot risk the experiment of abolition of capital punishment.
  • Response to the society’s demand that people should get what they deserve in proportion to the severity of their crime.

Arguments Against Death Penalty:

  • More than two thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty.
  • Avoiding judicial error.
  • Preventing Misuse or Overuse.
  • It mostly affects the poors and economically vulnerable, in absence of a poor legal representation.
  • The death penalty is also considered to be arbitrary in nature.

Way forward:

The Supreme Court has suggested that while delivering judgement in case related to death penalty the convict’s social background, age, educational levels should be taken into account. There is a need to frame guidelines regarding potential mitigating circumstances to be considered while imposing death sentences.

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