India has voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution calling for moratorium on the use of death penalty, saying it fails to recognise each nation’s “sovereign right” to determine its legal system and punish criminals according to its laws.
The draft resolution on ‘Moratorium on the use of the death penalty’ was approved last week in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues. India was among the 36 nations that voted against the resolution, which got 114 votes in favour and 34 abstentions.
By the terms of the resolution, the General Assembly would urge Member States to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and not impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age, on pregnant women and on persons with mental or intellectual disabilities.
In its explanation for voting against the resolution, India said the resolution seeks to promote a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
India voted against the resolution as it goes “against our statutory law”, First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Mayank Joshi said.
“The resolution fails to recognise the basic principle that each State has the sovereign right to determine its legal system and to punish criminals as per its laws,” he said.
Joshi said in India the death penalty is exercised in the “rarest of rare” cases, where the crime committed is “so heinous as to shock the conscience of society.”
He said Indian law provides for all requisite procedural safeguards, including the right to a fair hearing by an independent court, the presumption of innocence, the minimum guarantees for the defence and the right to review by a higher court.