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The Human Side of Capital Punishment: Perspectives from India and Beyond

The foundation of all penalties is the same idea: that misconduct always has to have a consequence. The punishment is being meted out for two key reasons. One is the conviction that someone who has acted improperly should bear the consequences of their actions because it is both morally and practically right to do so; the other is the conviction that punishing wrongdoers deters others from acting improperly. The basis for the death penalty is the same as those of other penalties.

The debate over the death penalty considers the most pertinent issues in general while taking into account the current situation. The criminal justice system in India includes the death penalty as a fundamental component. With the strength of the Indian human rights movement growing, many are questioning the morality of the death penalty. This is a strange argument, though, since it is amazing and morally wrong to keep one person alive at the expense of many other members or potential victims in the community.

The Indian Penal Code's founders believed that the death penalty should only be applied seldom. Over a century after its introduction, the death penalty's place in the Penal Code has not changed in principle. However, the trend towards its repeal in many nations has influenced both judicial and legislative opinions on the matter. Over the past twenty years or so, the Criminal Procedures Code has undergone several minor modifications that are indicative of the legislative thought. Prior to the 1955 modification of the Criminal Procedures Code of 1898, a judge had to provide justification if the death penalty was not appropriate in a murder case.

One of those topics of human concern that sparks never-ending discussion but never yields results that can be verified by science and are acceptable to both sides of the argument is the death penalty. The question of whether or not to abolish has been debated in numerous countries and continues to do so in others.

The writings of utilitarians like Bentham and Beccaria, who maintained that punishment being an evil in and of itself should be just sufficient to curb the menace of the crime and that no excessive punishment, including capital punishment, ought to be inflicted where some lesser penalty could achieve the same result, led to the beginning of the campaign against the death penalty in England and throughout Europe. The opposition against the death penalty in England was led by the Romilly family, a few other reformers, and most recently Sydney Silverman resulted in the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act, 1965's nearly complete repeal of the death penalty.

The current situation is very different from what it was at the end of the 18th century in England, when roughly 200 offences carried the death penalty. The death penalty is still allowed under Indian law, despite the fact that it has only been applied in the "rarest of rare cases" and is typically reserved for serious crimes with aggravating circumstances. The issue has drawn the attention of the government and public in India over the years.

High treason (Treason Act, 1814), violent piracy (Piracy Act, 1837), and setting fire to the Queen's ships, arsenals, etc. (Dockyards, etc. Protection Act, 1772) are still punishable by death in England. Regarding murder, the Act of 1965 stipulates a life sentence; however, the court may also suggest to the Secretary of State a minimum amount of time that, in its opinion, must pass before the defendant may be freed under section 29 of the Prisoners Act, 1952. It has been suggested in R v. Flemming (1973) that no such recommendation be made for a time frame shorter than 12 years.

The State of Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1847, with the exception of treason, starting the trend of abolishing capital punishment in the United States in the 19th century. Numerous other states have now followed suit.

The legal process by which the state executes a person as a warning for a crime is known as the death penalty or capital punishment. A death sentence is the result of a court order for someone to be punished in this way, whereas implementation is the result of strict enforcement. Capital crimes, also referred to as capital offences, are crimes for which the death sentence is an option. The Latin word "capitalis," which literally means "regarding the head" (referring to beheading as a means of execution), is where the word "capital" originates.

As per Encyclopaedia Britannica, the death penalty, often known as the capital punishment, is the imposition of a death sentence on an individual who has been found guilty of a criminal act by a court of law. A capital offence is any criminal charge for which the death penalty is an appropriate punishment. The crimes for which the death penalty is applied vary from state to state and nation to nation.

These offences include first-degree murder (planned), murder with special circumstances (premeditated, multiple, involved in another crime, including guns, involving a police officer, or a repeat felony), and rape with further bodily harm in various states in the United States injury, as well as the treasonous national offence. When a capital case is indicted, bail is usually not permitted.

Religious, philosophical, and ethical principles are at the heart of the current debate over the death penalty. However, accurate information may and should guide the creation of public policy. Since the sole major practical argument in favour of the death sentence is deterrence, the evidence supporting the capital punishment's unique effectiveness as a deterrent to murder is particularly significant. This paper's justification is to review and assess the preclusion evidence.

We need to appropriately define the question. We are not asking if the threat of punishment in general works as a deterrent to crime or if severe punishments for murder are appropriate. The question at hand is whether long incarceration or the death penalty, as it has been or may be used in the United States, is a more effective deterrence to murder. Is it possible that if New Hampshire's death penalty is increased, fewer murders will occur? If not, there are no reasonable advantages to the death penalty that balance its costs to society.

Capital Punishment
A careful examination of the debate in the Legislative Assembly of British India reveals that the topic of the death penalty was not brought up until 1931, when Bihar's member, Shri Gaya Prasad Singh, attempted to introduce a bill to do away with the death penalty for offences covered by the Indian Penal Code. However, after receiving a response from the then-home minister, the motion was rejected. In the 1946 Legislative Assembly discussion, Sir John Thorne, the Home Minister at the time, clearly stated twice the Government's position on the death penalty in British India before to independence. "The government does not think it is prudent to abolish the death penalty for any form of crime for which it is now applied.

India maintained many laws imposed by the British colonial authority after gaining independence, including the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (also known as the "IPC") and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (also known as "Cr.P.C. 1898"). The death penalty was one of six penalties allowed by the IPC to be used under the law. If the accuse is convict of an offence punishable by means of death, and the court sentence him to some other punishment than death, the court shall in its judgment utter the reason why sentence of death was not passed. In 1955, the Parliament repeal Section 367(5), CrPC 1898, extensively varying the position of the death sentence.

The death penalty was no longer the norm and courts did not require special reasons for why they were not daunting the death penalty in cases where it was a prescribed punishment. The Code of Criminal Procedure was re-enacted in 1973 ('CrPC'), and numerous changes were made, notably to Section 354(3):

When the guarantee relates to an offence that carries a death sentence or, in its place, a life sentence or a period of years in prison, the decision must justify the sentence given and, in the event of a death sentence, the unusual circumstances surrounding the sentencing. This was a significant departure from the circumstances that followed the 1955 amendment, which gave the death penalty and prison sentences equal chances in a capital case, and from the 1898 statute, which established the death penalty as the default punishment and required justifications for any other punishment that was imposed. Judges now sought to give a unique justification for imposing the death penalty.

In Section 235(2), which reads as follows: If the accused is found guilty, the judge shall, if not, proceed in accordance with the provisions of Section 360, attend to the accused on the question of sentence, and after that pass sentence on him in accordance with law. These amendments also introduce the possibility of a post-conviction examination on sentence, counting the death sentence.

Capital Punishment in India
No one may be deprived of their life or liberty unless the legal process has been followed, according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Every person has the constitutionally given right to life under Article 21.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 stipulates that a number of offences, including murder, dacoity, waging war against the country, and criminal conspiracy, are punishable by death. The death penalty is also provided for by a number of additional laws, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the NDPS ACT.

The Constitution contains a clause allowing for the clemency of the death penalty under Article 72. This Article gives the Indian President the authority to pardon, commute, or remit death sentences under specific circumstances. In a same vein, Article 161 gives the State Governor the authority to bestow pardon. Furthermore, only the execution can take place if a Sessions Court's decision to apply the death penalty has been validated by the state's High Court. These steps are required to eliminate any possibility of error. These days, life in prison is the norm rather than the death penalty, which is rarely applied in the most extreme circumstances.

The Jagmohan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh case was the first case in which the court was able to address whether the death penalty was constitutional. The appellant's council argued that all of the rights protected by Article 19(1) of the Constitution are eliminated by the death penalty. The second argument put forth was that there was no set standard or policy that guided the discretion used to determine which cases should result in the death penalty.

Thirdly, it was claimed that Article 14 of the constitution, which protects equality before the law, was broken by this unrestrained and unguided discretion. It was said that there were numerous instances in which two people committed murder, one of them received the death penalty and the other life in jail. The final point made was that there are no legal criteria that take various events and considerations into account when deciding whether to give someone the death penalty or life in prison.

Since the beginning of time, the death penalty has been a used kind of punishment that is effective in getting rid of criminals and is applied to the most heinous offences. The foundation of Indian criminal jurisprudence is a blend of reformative and deterrent views of punishment. In addition to forcing punishments to create a deterrent among criminals, the offender should also be given the opportunity to turn their life around. There are differing views in India on the death penalty; some support keeping the punishment in place while others are in favour of abolishing it.

India is one of the 78 countries that support the death penalty, arguing that it should only be applied in the "rarest of rare cases" and for "special reasons." Though neither the legislature nor the Supreme Court have determined what qualifies as a "rarest of rare case" or "special reasons."

Abolitionists contend that the death penalty as it currently exists violates citizens' fundamental right to life, with a focus on the constitution's protection of that right and its removal through legally recognised procedures. Legal experts abound who argue that the extraordinary retention of the death penalty in Indian criminal statutes is in direct opposition to an individual's right to life. It is said that these learned jurists probably don't consider the reality that even the right to life isn't a given.

Furthermore, "equality before law and equal protection of the laws" are declared in Article 14 of the Constitution, meaning that no one may face discrimination unless it is necessary to achieve equality. The preamble to the constitution finds resonance with the idea of equality incorporated under Article 14. It appears that capital punishment is the antithesis of a person's right to life for this reason. It is undeniable, nonetheless, that the Indian Constitution contains no express mention of the death penalty being undemocratic.

The capital penalty is available for a wide range of offences under our nation's penal code. Sadly, though, there has been no decrease in these crimes in the nation as a result of the death sentence. India continues to apply the death penalty despite the fact that over 66% other nations have abolished it because they primarily think it has a deterrent impact. The three main notions of retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation form the foundation of the retaliatory system. The justifications for using the death penalty, deterrence and retribution, where society hassles revenge, fall short. It's clear that eliminating an assassin hasn't stopped a new murderer from emerging.

Written by: Akanksha

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