SC?s move on the Death penalty

SC’s move on the Death penalty

News: The Supreme Court asked the Centre to provide data that may point to a more dignified, less painful and socially acceptable method of executing prisoners other than death by hanging.

 The court clarified that it was not questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty but rather the method of execution.
 The court was hearing a petition challenging the constitutionality of death by hanging as a mode of execution.

What is Death penalty?
 The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is a legal sentence in some countries where a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime they have committed.
 Section 354 (5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandates that a person sentenced to death shall “be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.
 Certain offences under Indian Penal Code, for which the offenders can be sentenced to punishment of death are:
o Murder (Section 302)
o Dacoity with murder (Section 396)
o Criminal Conspiracy (Section 120B)
o Waging war against the Government of India or attempting to do so (Section 121)
o Abetment of mutiny (Section 132)

Pros and cons of Death Penalty: 

Pros  Cons
Acts as a Deterrent to crimeNo effect on crime rate
Provides justice to family, friends and societyThere is possibility of executing innocent people
Reduces prison occupancy and overcrowdingDiscriminatory against marginalized community
Vengeance for familyPotential of wrongful conviction and bias
Supported by majority of publicInhumane
Serves justiceEthical acceptance
 Irreversible action, process can be expensive and time consuming

What are Judgements related to Death sentence?
 There are two important judgements on the issue — Bachan Singh vs the State of Punjab (1980), which upheld the death penalty, but limited it to the ‘rarest of rare cases’, and
 Deena Dayal vs Union of India and Others (1983), upheld the method by ruling that hanging is “as painless as possible” and “causes no greater pain than any other known method”.
 The 35th Report of the Law Commission (1967) noted that electrocution, the use of a gas chamber and lethal injection were considered by some to be less painful.

What is government’s opinion?
 The government had said the mode of execution is a 'matter of legislative policy,' and the death penalty is awarded only in the rarest of rare cases.
 The Centre had filed an affidavit in 2018 supporting death by hanging and had not found the method of execution 'barbaric, inhuman, and cruel' compared to firing squads and lethal injections.

Where does Death penalty exist in world?
 According to Amnesty International, the death penalty continues to be quite widespread Asia, with China, India, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, among others
 The death penalty is rare in Europe and the Americas – with the notable exceptions of Belarus, Guyana, Cuba and the United States.
 110 countries and territories around the world have abolished the death penalty, most recently Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea.

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