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The question very much asked these days whether capital punishment is necessary in the light of modern evolving criminal jurisprudence. The capital punishment is being considered as the crime against humanity by human right activists and is under regular introspection whether it has any place in civilized society. Another question is asked of the procedure capital punishment is executed of hanging till death. Can an alternative way be thought of?

The very essential of any crime are the intention, actus reus and the act/omission must be unlawful and crime is always considered against society. A further differentiation is done on the basis of heinous, petty crimes and punishment decided accordingly even pardonable or plea bargaining, compromise in certain cases. As dispensing justice is a legal procedure the wide discretion is provided to courts on deciding the punishment within the boundaries of law. When the court is provided with a choice of giving punishment with imprisonment and capital punishment, the discretion is with the courts to decide on gravity of crime and other parameters, but the question needs to be answered is, in which condition capital punishment to be given and whether capital punishment should be given at all. If law makers had intended to provide only capital punishment based on the gravity of crime only  then they would not had given the right to exercise discretion to court as capital punishment is indicated for heinous crimes only. Moreover the final act cannot be considered as sole criteria for inflicting capital punishment as we can see in IPC section 302,304,304A, 304B where causing death of person is the act but punishment differs, so the law makers had themselves differentiated the situation as whole depending on overall parameters as the purpose of punishment for criminal act are deterrence, reform, revenge and setting a example.

The question whether capital punishment should be abolished or not is a matter of legislative debate but one consensus appears that it should be restricted to rarest of rare case.

Capital punishment should be restricted to the cases where

  • The very existence of convicted is a threat to peace of society or country. There are chances of blackmailing in future of using him as element of further criminal act.
  • Deter others who may engage in such crimes which are rarest of rare nature.
  • The cases where life-imprisonment will not meet the ends of justice as rights of victims.

If the very existence of convict is not threat to society and life imprisonment will be sufficient to serve the punishment of his crime, as that will in itself ensure isolation from the main society, capital punishment should not be given.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal.


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