What is meant by irreversible penalty under criminal laws?
175B083 Mahesh P S 17 February 2021
Death Penalty is a process which is provided as a lawful infliction of punishment to an individual if he or she commits an act which is forbidden by law. This also follows the due procedure of law. The validity of the death penalty has been discussed concerning the Indian Judiciary concept. The arrival of death as a punishment for different crimes as well as the presence of the death penalty in several other countries is discussed in detail. The main focus is on the Indian context and capital punishment laid as a penalty in the legislative acts. The death penalty is a punishment since time immemorial. It is authorized by the government and the expansion of the deterrence theory of punishments. There are various arguments for and against which has not changed and when an issue arises whether the death penalty should be abolished or not it is continuing and reminds ourselves how the Apex court deals with the situation when it has come up before them.
Some movements have gained a good momentum to abolish the death penalty. This reminds us of Cesare Beccaria who was successful in convincing people that the death sentence is inhuman and it should be abolished. Michigan was the first state to ban the death sentence in 1846. The abolition movement was also supported by the United Nations during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHRs) in 1948. The Human Rights Council has been against the Indian view stating, it goes against the statutory law where an execution is carried out in the “rarest of rare” cases. The formal expression of adjudication by the court (Judicial Decree) is a death sentence whereas the process of killing the individual is known as an execution.
The offences which result in the death penalty are also known as Capital crimes and heinous crimes. In India, there is Section 368 of the Criminal Procedure Code which provides power to the High Courts regarding confirmation of the Death sentence which is given in case of murder, rape, terrorism, waging war, abetting the suicide of minor, acid attacks, drug trafficking and also in Rarest of Rare Cases. The death sentence is present as a punishment in Section 53 of the Indian Penal Code 1860. This punishment is very rarely used in India. In the case of Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, the court had made it clear that capital punishment is given in rarest of rare cases. The precedents were used as an exasperating and mitigating factor before awarding any individual with a death sentence.
This shall be followed by a brief of some of the landmark cases relating to the subject matter decided by the Indian Courts. The Indian constitution guarantees that “the government has no right to take any individual’s life”. This punishment still exists and not abolished in India which is a matter of concern. Article 14 of the Indian constitution, states that “equality before the law and equal protection of the laws”, which means that no person shall be discriminated against unless the discrimination is required to achieve equality. The punishment is scantily executed which is irreversible and if any error arises in awarding the death penalty, it cannot be undone as the individual is executed. An individual of different classes, castes, genders, social status is treated differently. It is also found that individuals who belong from a lower socio-economic background, cannot afford proper legal services and are at the receiving end of such punishment.
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