The Central Government has informed the Supreme Court that lethal injection as an alternative method to death by hanging was “not workable” since there had been several instances of it failing.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand told this to a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which was hearing a PIL that sought a ban on the practice of executing death row convicts via hanging and the introduction of a more “dignified” mode.
During the hearing, the CJI questioned as to how the court could decide on the right mode of execution and asked for the norm in other countries. The ASG has been asked to clarify on the government’s stand in an affidavit which needs to be filed within four weeks.
Filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra the plea seeks to set aside the section 354(5) of the CrPC which says that when anyone is sentenced to death“ the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.
Malhotra has also demanded that the court declare “Right to Die by a dignified procedure of death is a Fundamental right as defined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.
Hanging A Painful Death
Malhotra pointed out that the Law Commission in its 187th Report had observed that there was a jump in the number of countries wherein hanging has been abolished as method of execution and substituted by other methods such as shooting, electrocution, or lethal injection.
The plea has quoted the Law Commission’s opinion that hanging is “accompanied by intense physical torture and pain,” adding that it takes over 40 minutes to declare a prisoner dead while with shooting the time is less then a few minutes and in regards to intravenous lethal injection, it is just 5 minutes.