Supreme Court of India on death execution: Convict facing death should die in peace, not in pain

Supreme Court of India on death execution: Convict facing death should die in peace, not in pain

Supreme Court of India while observing that a convict who is facing death must die in peace and not in pain , agreed on Friday to examine whether the death execution by hanging could be replaced by other procedures like by injecting lethal injection or shooting, which are less painful. 

A bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said the government and Parliament could explore other options for executon of death sentence by ways that are less painful and issued notice to the Centre to respond to a petition seeking that Section 354(5) of Criminal Procedure Code, which prescribes execution of death sentence and says that a death convict shall be hanged by the neck till he is dead, be declared unconstitutional and invalid.

The order was passed by the court on a PIL filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra alleging that the present system for the execution of death is not only barbaric, inhuman and cruel but also against the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) ways that capital punishment must be carried out so as to inflict mhich sinimum possible suffering to condemned prisoners.

With making a reference to various law commission reports, Malhotra contended that they had also favoured other procedures for executing the death sentence.

He also stated that the death sentence by hanging is abolished by a number of other countries as well with adopting electrocution, shooting or lethal injection to execute death sentence.

“The ultimate conclusion arrived by the law commission was that developed as well as developing countries have replaced execution by hanging by intravenous lethal injection or shooting which is most acceptable and humane method of executing death sentence involving less pain and suffering to a condemned prisoner,” he said.

It was contended by him that death by shooting was legal in the country as the Army Act, Navy Act and Air Force Act say a court martial shall, in its discretion, direct that a death convict shall suffer death by being hanged by the neck until he is dead or shall suffer death by being shot to death.

Agreeing to decide feasibility to replace hanging as mode of death, the bench said evolution of modern science had opened the door to explore other less painful methods to execute death sentence which should be examined.

 “It is contended by him (petitioner) that a convict, whose life has to end because of the conviction and the sentence, should not be compelled to suffer the pain of hanging. He has referred to the 187th report of the Law Commission…,” the bench said.
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