The Supreme Court asked Attorney General for assistance to institutionalise a mechanism by which information crucial to decide whether a person should be condemned to death or not can be gathered and placed on record before trial judges.
WHAT DID THE COURT SAY
- In some cases, trial courts sentence a person to death merely hours after conviction
- No effort is ever made to dig deeper into a convict’s childhood experiences, multi-generational history of physical and mental health issues, exposure to traumatic events and other familial, social and cultural factors crucial in order to undertake an individualised sentencing enquiry
- SC said this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach while considering mitigating factors during sentencing should end. A more enlightened approach has to be evolved
- A “mitigation expert”, a qualified professional with unhindered access to the convict’s past, ought to be at the centre of this change in outlook
- Mitigating investigators would be experts in fields as varied as social work, sociology, anthropology, criminology, psychology and other social sciences. They could interview the convicts, their families, friends and other associated with the prisoners and their past to draw a complete picture. The information could then be placed before a trial judge
- Also called Capital Punishment
- Legal punishment
- Permissible for some crimes under the country’s main substantive penal legislation, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as other laws.
- Prior to the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act [Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr PC)] of 1955, the death penalty was the rule and life imprisonment an exception in India.
- As per official statistics, 720 executions have taken place in India since it became independent in the year 1947.
- As per Section 354 (3) of the Cr PC, 1973 the courts are required to state reasons in writing for awarding the maximum penalty.
- The punishment must be equivalent to the severity of the crime. Real justice requires people to suffer for their wrongdoing and to suffer in a way appropriate for the crime. Each criminal should get what their crime deserves and in the case of a murderer what their crime deserves is death.
- Any criminal must be punished as per the crime committed by them so that justice is granted to the victim
- It is also believed that the death penalty or capital punishment may provide closure and justice to the victim’s family
- It is also believed that the death penalty can lead to some form of rehabilitation and escape punishment in the next life.
- Capital punishment is often justified with the argument that capital punishment causes deterrence.
- There is a probability that an innocent may get punished or the crime may have been committed in unfavourable conditions.
- It may cause emotional or mental breakdown for the accused’s family.
- The anticipatory suffering of the criminal, who may be kept on death row for many years, makes the punishment more severe than just depriving the criminal of life.
- The statistical evidence doesn’t confirm that deterrence reduced the crime rate.
- There are some examples of persons who were condemned to death taking the opportunity of the time before execution to repent, express remorse, and very often experience profound spiritual rehabilitation