FEW IMPORTANT POINTS ON DEATH PENALTY | UPSC LAW OPTIONAL MAINS NOTES

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FEW IMPORTANT POINTS ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT UNDER IPC


CONCERNED SECTION | Section 53 of Indian Penal Code. "Punishments"


The punishments to which offenders are liable under the provisions of this Code are

First­ Death;

Secondly­ Imprisonment for life;

Thirdly ­ Abolished

Fourthly­ imprisonment, which is of two descriptions, namely:­

(1) Rigorous, that is, with hard labor;

(2) Simple,

Fifthly­ Forfeiture of property;

Sixthly­ Fine


Important Supreme Court judgments related to Capital Punishment:


1. Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, 1980Kehar Singh v. Union of India, 1989: Pardoning power of executive is subject to judicial review.


2. Bhagwan Das v. State, 2011: SC ruled that the death penalty should be rendered as punishment in cases of “honour killings.” The Law Commission of India, however, disagreed with the ruling on the ground that the death penalty should be used “only in very exceptional and rare cases.”


3. Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India, 2014: SC ruled that “undue, inordinate and unreasonable delay in execution of death sentence amounts to torture” and was a ground for commutation of sentence. The court also stated that the execution of people suffering from mental illness would be unconstitutional. The Court, observed that considerations such as the gravity of the crime, extraordinary cruelty involved or some disastrous consequences for society caused by the offence are irrelevant after the Constitution Bench decision in Bachan Singh’s case in 1980.


4. Devendra Pal Bhullar, 2014: SC commuted death sentence of Devinder Pal Bhullar, a convict in 1993 Delhi bomb blast case to life imprisonment, both on the ground of unexplained/inordinate delay of 8 years in disposal of mercy petition and on the ground of insanity/mental illness/schizophrenia.



WHEN DEATH SENTENCE CAN BE IMPOSED ?  Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684


CIRCUMSTANCES AND FACTORS :


I.Manner of Commission of Murder: When the murder is committed in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical. revolting, or dastardly manner.


II. Motive for Commission of murder: When the murder is committed for a motive which is very means. For instance when A  hired assassin commits murder for the sake of money or reward etc..


III Anti Social or Socially abhorrent nature of the crime: (a) When murder of a Scheduled Caste or minority community etc.,. (b) In cases of 'bride burning' and what are known as 'dowry deaths'


IV. Magnitude of Crime: When the crime is enormous in proportion Example : serial killers etc


 V. Personality of Victim of murder: When the victim of murder is (a) an innocent child who could not have or has not provided even an excuse, much less a provocation, for murder. (b) a helpless woman or a person rendered helpless by old age or infirmity (c) when the victim is a person vis-a vis whom the murderer is in a position of domination or trust (d) when the victim is a public figure generally loved and respected by the community for the services rendered by him and the murder is committed for political or similar reasons other than personal reasons ground of insanity/mental illness/schizophrenia.


ALTERNATIVE INNOVATION FOR DEATH PENALTY | Death penalty is substituted with a “special category” of prolonged life imprisonment.


This judicial innovation, formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case in December 2015.


AIM OF THIS INNOVATION | It  helps “get rid of death penalty” and addresses the genuine concerns of the society to see justice done


No remission  : The innovation involves substituting death penalty with a “special category” of life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years, if not more.


OTHER CASES : Union of India versus Sriharan alias Murugan .


LIMITATION | The special category is to be limited to a “very few cases”.


AUTHORITATIVE OUTPUT | This special category finds its first mention in the Swami Shraddananda versus State of Karnataka judgment of the Supreme Court in 2008.


CONCLUSION | Society’s concerns  : “The judicial innovation bridges the gap between death sentence on the one extreme and only 14 years of actual imprisonment in the name of life imprisonment on the other.

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