End death penalty, keep it for terror only, recommends Law Commission

India is one of 59 countries where the death penalty is still awarded by courts. More recently, the issue was debated in the run-up to the July 30 hanging of Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Updated: August 28, 2015 4:29 pm
Death Penalty, death penalty debate, Law Commission India, Law Commission, Law Commission death penalty, abolition of death penalty, Mumbai blasts, Yakub Memon hanging, Law Ministry, Death Penalty, India, Yakub Memon, India News, indian express Law Commission chairman Justice (retd) A P Shah.

In what will be a reversal of its earlier stand, the Law Commission of India is set to recommend abolition of death penalty in the country.

A 272-page draft report of the Law Commission, circulated among members, favours speedy abolition of the death penalty from the statute books, except in cases where the accused is convicted of involvement in a terror case.

India is one of 59 countries where the death penalty is still awarded by courts. More recently, the issue was debated in the run-up to the July 30 hanging of Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon.

Watch: End Death Penalty, Keep It For Terror Only, says Law Commission (App users click here)

The draft report hopes that the “movement towards absolute abolition will be swift and irreversible”. In 1962, the Law Commission, in its 35th report, had recommended retention of death penalty.

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The final report, which is likely to be cleared by seven full-time members, including chairman Justice (retired) A P Shah, and four part-time members, could be submitted to the government either over the weekend or next Monday. There may not be unanimity on the recommendation for ending death penalty because some members are opposed to it. The term of the Commission ends on August 31.

Last year, the Commission had been tasked by the Supreme Court to study the issue of death penalty and submit a report on it.

The Commission held wide-ranging consultations on the issue where majority of the participants, including representatives of some political parties, favoured abolition of the death penalty.

Commission has observed: “The death penalty has no demonstrated utility in deterring crime or incapacitating offenders, any more than its alternative — imprisonment for life. The quest for retribution as a penal justification cannot descend into cries for vengeance.”

In its report, the Commission has pointed out that despite the landmark Supreme Court judgment in Bachan Singh versus State of Punjab — the Supreme Court laid down the “rarest of rare” doctrine and held that capital punishment should only be awarded in the “rarest of rare cases” — the application of death penalty “continues to be remain excessive, arbitrary, unprincipled, judge-centric and prone to error”.

The draft report also notes that “there exists no principled method to remove such arbitrariness from capital sentencing” and that not only is its arbitrary and uncertain, it is “applied disparately and disproportionately against socially and economically marginalised groups, reflecting systemic biases and structural disadvantages”.

“The death penalty is eminently fallible, yet irrevocably final. It operates in a system that is highly fragile and open to manipulation and mistake… The exercise of mercy powers under Article 72/161 has also failed in acting as the final bulwark against miscarriage of justice arising from arbitrary, unfair or wrongful exercise of death penalty,” the draft report states.

The Commission, while recognising lack of consensus among lawmakers on the issue, has suggested a “possible approach” towards achieving the goal of abolition of death penalty.

“The Commission suggests that the death penalty be immediately abolished for all crimes other than terror offences. At the same time, for terror offences a moratorium as regards sentencing and execution be immediately put in place. This moratorium can be reviewed after a reasonable period.”

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    ishirakorangu
    Aug 28, 2015 at 5:03 am
    Excellent move.. Already criminals commit murder for petty things or nominal gains as they are aware about the sluggishness of indian legal system. The only thing that puts some fear in prople is the death penalty. Now abolish that too so that people will have free run to commit murders. This country is doomed
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      RAM SANDAL
      Aug 31, 2015 at 2:32 am
      THE EDUCATED GENTLE SOULS THAT SURVIVE AGAINST HYPER ACTIVE GOONS/SOCIETY BLESSED BY THE POLITICAL SYSTEM(NOW VIRTUALLY OWNING INDIAN WEALTH IN ALL KINDS) SHALL MEET FATAL ENDS AFTER THE WISDOM SURRENDERS ITS LAST WEAPON ...ITS PEN OF JUSTIFICATION...I AM NOT WRONG WITH A FAR SIGHT ON THIS SUBJECT... EVEN THE JUDGES SHALL TREMBLE GIVING JUDGEMENT AFTER THIS BECAUSE THERE SHALL BE MANY MANY WHO WILL BE WILLING TO SPEND JAIL TIME AT THE SUBSIDIARIES BY THE STATE....GANGS WILL FIGHT AGAINST GANGS WITH MAY BE PLENTY INTO JAILS WITH NO REGRET /FEAR AS LONG AS THEY CAN BREATHE AND THEIR EYES ARE WATCHING THE WORLD WITH FILLED STOMACHS AND GOOD NIGHT SLEEPS.PLEASE THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND THIS DON'T PLEASE DON'T ENDANGER THE LIVES OF WISE /GENTLE/ESPECIALLY THE FEMALES.I AM SURE WE SHALL HAVE A RECEPTIVE MIND AND BE NOT FOOLS WHO GET ANNO WHEN ADVISED!
      Reply
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        amitava ghosh
        Aug 28, 2015 at 9:13 am
        The sheena murder case where she was pathetically butchered, the bhopal genocide, the vayapam deaths, the nirbhaya case&many such others were cases more horrific than terrorist killings.So it becomes very difficult to accept abolition of death penalty.It shd prevail in such cases of gruesome murders
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          Deepi S
          Aug 28, 2015 at 5:59 pm
          Death penalty should continue. No person has gthe right to take way the life of another person. Life imprisonment is not the solution because these people opderate even from the prison, with full freedom and immunity. Todays Jail has bec ome a resofrt, conv ic ts enjoy all the c omforts & facilities. Law commissiion should ensutre that cases are settled swithin a year , on the basis of evidence already produced. Prolonging cases for ddecades ixs mockdery of justice.
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            Deepi S
            Aug 28, 2015 at 7:37 pm
            Law commission should recommend suggestions to expedite the judgements in gthe courts, which is now taking decades, during which period, many of the accused expire. Any judgement should coume within a year, based on ev idence produced. Judges should not allow the lawyers to prolong the case, jusgt to exploit the accused and easrn more money. Is there any meaning in a jusgement zafter 3 or even 4 decades? Is itr s judgement or just fun?
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              Deepi S
              Aug 28, 2015 at 6:08 pm
              They will welcome it, crime will increase with the blessings of Jailer/staff.
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                Caamano
                Aug 28, 2015 at 4:27 am
                No, it should remain for 'rarest of rare', and life imprissionment should be for the reminder of life with no commutation
                Reply
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                  chahat thakkar
                  Aug 28, 2015 at 8:43 am
                  Res. Law Commission, people of the Land are not in agreement with your decision. We want death penalty to stay in the law. We are more fearful for our life than the thirst to take other's life. A person who does not value his own life devalues the life of other person and kill him/her. Why do you want the people of the land to pay for livelihood of a person in the jail who took life of one of us. Our Jails are already full with criminals. Abolishing death penalty would decrease the Fear while killing a person. Lead to more public spending on Jails & staff. So, it is requested to keep provision of death penalty in law and use it more often than it is now.
                  Reply
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