Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 03 June 2023 1.22 PM IST

A painless execution


The Supreme Court has directed the central government to study and report on more suitable humane methods of execution that ensure a painless death instead of hanging. As the world changes, such primitive methods of punishment must also be changed. Whether or not the death penalty should be used has been debated within the legal community for years. Courts impose the death penalty only in the rarest of rare cases now. In most cases, High Courts and the Supreme Court have taken the approach of granting commutation to the death sentences passed by the lower courts. But even in cases where the Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty, there are still many hurdles to implementing the verdict. As a decision on the mercy petition submitted to the President is delayed, the death sentence will also be prolonged. There is also an opinion that it is inhumane to carry out the death sentence after the person sentenced to death has spent thirty years in prison. Therefore, in such cases, the trial, appeal, and other proceedings should be completed within the stipulated time frame. Any justice delayed is justice denied.

The judiciary should give utmost priority to speeding up case management and adjudication with the help of technology. No one has the right to take anyone's life. The justification for the imposition of the death penalty is the thought that there is no wrong in taking the life of a person proven to have committed such a crime. Primitive methods of execution existed in India during the period of monarchial government and so on. With the passage of time, all that has changed. There are countries where painless methods are available instead of hanging by the rope. There is nothing wrong with changing this method after studying them all in detail. A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha asked the Center what could be provided instead of the gallows in a public interest petition filed by a lawyer seeking a ban on hanging as it is cruel. The order said that the central government should inform whether hanging is better in the modern age of science and technology, and if it does not happen, the court itself will form a committee for this purpose. Center should submit a proposal in this regard after studying the alternatives and holding discussions with the public. Alternative methods that are less painful are suitable for the changed times.

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