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Capital Punishments (under IPC)

What is Capital Punishment?

Capital punishment or death penalty is a punishment given by the government under the Indian Penal code 1860 for the most heinous of crimes such as murder, abetment of suicide of a child, waging war against the government, etc. and which fall under the “rarest of the rare” category. The method of execution used is ‘hanging till death’ or ‘Shooting’ in India. Recently in 2018, an ordinance has been passed by the government of India for awarding death sentence to people convicted of raping children below 12 years of age.

Kind of Crimes punishable by death under Indian penal code
  1. Aggravated Murder.-Any murder which comes under the “rarest of the rare “categories- Section 302 IPC
  2. Armed robbery resulting in death.-If any member of a group commits murder in the process of a robbery, then all members of the group can be awarded death penalty.
  3. Kidnapping -If the victim is killed
  4. Committing or being a part of a ‘Sati’ act is punishable
  5. Assisting people under the age of 18 or who are mentally ill or disabled or intoxicated in committing suicide
  6. Being a false witness in a case against a member of scheduled caste or tribe.
  7. Using an explosive which can cause serious damage to society or property.
  8. Rape which can cause such an injury to the victim that he or she dies or is left in a “persistent vegetative state”.
  9. Waging or attempting to wage a war against the Government of India- Section 121 IPC

Apart from this, in various legislations like the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act), anti-terrorism laws, etc.  there is a provision of death.

Why is Capital Punishment-a topic of discussion?

Due to the nature of irreversibility associated with the death sentence, there has been much discussion to abolish the law awarding death penalty or capital punishment all around the globe. There have been cases where the innocent have been convicted and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution talks about the right to life to every Indian citizen.

How can the convict claim clemency?

If a death sentence is awarded by a session’s court, it must be approved by the High court. Even then the convict can file for clemency in the Supreme Court. If the convict faces negative responses from everywhere then he or she can claim clemency by filing “mercy petition” from the “President of India”.

Cases of Capital Punishment in India and the world

The 4 cases where the death sentence was awarded by the Indian Judiciary:

Case 1: Dhananjoy Chatterjee:

He was executed on 14th August 2004. He raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl Hatel Parekh. His mercy plea was rejected by the then President of India APJ Abdul Kalam. His crime came under the “rarest of the rare” category because he was a security guard in the same society where Hatel lived. Rather than protecting the people, he committed such a heinous crime

Case 2: Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab:

He was executed on 21st Nov 2012. He was part of the terrorist group, which was responsible for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. These attacks had shaken the nation and were rigorously covered by the Indian Media.

Case 3: Afzal Guru:

He was executed on 9th Feb 2013. He led the terror attacks on the Indian Parliament on 13th Dec 2001 which had killed 8 security men, a gardener, and a media person. A special trial court under the “Prevention of Terrorism Act” sentenced him to death on 18th Dec 2002. His execution was carried out as a secret mission.

Case 4: Yakub Memon:

He was executed on 30th July 2015. He sponsored the terror blasts that shook Mumbai in 1993 and killed around 257 people. His brother was the mastermind behind the attacks along with Dawood Ibrahim.

Is Death Penalty correct?
  1. The criminals should face the punishments for their wrongdoings. There is no substitute for life. Also, it prevents the criminals from recommitting the crime if they are freed from jail. Many lives can be saved due to this.
  2. Awarding apt punishments to the criminal will deter other to-be criminals from committing the crime
  3. The death penalty is like justice given to the victim and his family.

There should be no delay in judicial proceedings otherwise the sole purpose of the punishment is lost. Sometimes the crimes are so gory in nature that the whole nation comes in support of capital punishment. For example, the Nirbhaya gang rape of Delhi caused nationwide fury and aroused the conscience of every human being. All the people came together in support of capital punishments for all convicts of the gang rape case.

There is a huge possibility of mistakes in the death penalty. For example, there was a case in the United Kingdom of Timothy Evans, an innocent man who was hanged, which caused the UK to abolish capital punishment. After all, death is irreversible.