Supreme court seeks replacement for death sentence

Today the Supreme Court of India issued a notice to the central government in connection with a plea seeking replacement of death sentence. The death sentence was banned by the Supreme Court in 2015.

The top court has asked the Centre to give a detailed reply on the same within three months.

A bench of three judges headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, while hearing the plea filed by Advocate Rishi Malhotra, said the Indian Constitution is a compassionate one which recognises principle of sanctity of life.

The plea said that Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution also includes the right of a condemned prisoner to have a dignified mode of execution so that death becomes less painful. Lawyer Rishi Malhotra, the petitioner, also referred to various apex court judgements in which the practice of hanging a death row convict has been assailed.

Malhotra has in his PIL also challenged the validity of Section 354(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which says, “When any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead.” Malhotra has also described death by hanging as “barbaric and inhuman” in his PIL.

It observed that with the invention of various modes of execution in modern time, legislature can think of other mode for death convicts, keeping in view the dynamic progress in science.

The petitioner in his plea stated the execution as contemplated under Section 354(5) of CrPC (hung by the neck till the person is dead) is not only barbaric and cruel but it is also against the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) which has clarified that ‘where the capital punishment occurs it should be carried out so as to inflict minimum suffering.’