IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT JUSTIFIED?

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Capital punishment describes the execution of any individual by the state who has been found guilty of certain major crimes. Over the ages capital punishment has been given to criminals using various methods such as hanging, gas chambers, electrocution etc. The question that arises here is that- “IS CAPITAL PUNISHMEMT JUSTIFIED?’’. Capital punishment has been a subject of great controversies in India over a long period of time basically on humanitarian and moral grounds. Death penalty or capital punishment being the harshest punishments of all time is gradually taking a humanitarian turn. Many countries around the world have abandoned death penalties and have adopted various other deterrence methods. Countries such as Italy, France, Australia, Denmark, Poland and others
have recently abolished capital punishments, but India still seems to be stuck between the global trend to end death penalty and the nations that still follow it. It has taken a very safe provision by leaving it to the judiciary.


The question that arises here is that when should capital punishment be given or should it be awarded at the first place? Under which circumstances should it be given? What sort of crime will demand a capital punishment like rape, murder, treason, robbery? Most people debate that capital
punishment is a safe and easy way to punish and reform a criminal but is it actually a way to reform or is it reform disguised in revenge? How can one reform someone after killing them? Who gave us the right to take some one’s life as George B. Show once said- “murder and capital punishment are
not opposites that cancel one another but similar that breed their kind It Is deed that teaches not the name we give it.’’

There is uproar everywhere that capital punishment should be abolished as it is against Article 21 of the Indian constitution that is against Right to life and liberty. In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a pledge among nations to promote fundamental rights. Article 5 of the declaration states that no one shall be subjected to degrading and cruel punishments but still there are number of countries including India following this rigorous practice. Countries that have abolished death penalties says that they have not seen rise in the
number of murders instead there is a sense of reform prevailing. In the Bachan Singh v/s State of Punjab judgment the Supreme Court stated that death punishment should be awarded in the rarest of the rare cases but it did not mention which crimes or cases fall under the same thus making it a
matter of controversy.

Moreover, we talk about sanctity of life so I ask isn’t the sanctity of offender’s life as important as the sanctity of the victim’s life. In the public discourse there is a belief that if we hang the murderer, the rapist then we can deter all further crimes but that’s not the case, In my personal opinion societycannot show that killing is wrong by killing, instead we should opt for other deterrent and rehabilitant methods. We should instead try to learn that what circumstances or reasons led a person to commit such treachery and what was his intend while committing a particular offence
because I believe a person committing an offence as heinous as murder might be going through certain trauma or is emotionally challenged. Also, you cannot deny the fact that most of those waiting death sentence are of weaker background because the richer section has money and other
means to clean their blood spotted clothes without even leaving a mark behind.

Though I agree that capital punishment has been used for ages due to the psychological effect it produces on the people who witness and learn about the death penalty but have we ever thought about the immense trauma a family goes through when they witness their loved one being hanged
to death right in front of their eyes. It is further added that capital punishment is a revenge rather than justice.

Thus, I would like to end this article with a beautiful quote by Martin Luther King –
‘’Capital punishment is against the best judgement of modern criminology and, above all, againstthe highest expression of love in the nature of God’’.

Author: Nandini Sharma
St Judes School


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