Convict facing death-sentence should die in peace, not pain: SC
The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Centre on a plea seeking alternatives to death by hanging for convicts sentenced to death. Observing that such prisoners must die in peace, it agreed to examine if hanging could be replaced by less painful procedures such as death by lethal injection or shooting. The Centre was asked to respond within three weeks. Read more!
An SC bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud stated the Centre and Parliament could explore other options that are less painful. The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra. It seeks the declaration of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section-354(5), which prescribes execution of death sentence and mandates death by hanging, as unconstitutional and invalid.
Chief Justice Misra said: "Legislature can think of some other means by which a convict, who under law has to face death sentence, should die in peace and not in pain. It has been said since centuries that nothing can be equated with painless death."
Malhotra's PIL said the Indian Constitution's Article-21 on "right to life" includes a convict's right to have a dignified mode of execution. It alleged the current system is barbaric, inhuman, and cruel and also against the United Nations Economic and Social Council's resolutions that say death sentence should inflict minimum possible suffering. Malhotra said several countries abolished hanging, adopting electrocution, shooting, or lethal injection.
Malhotra said the law commission's ultimate conclusion was "developed as well as developing countries have replaced execution by hanging by intravenous lethal injection or shooting which is most acceptable and humane method of executing death sentence involving less pain and suffering to a condemned prisoner."
Rishi Malhotra contended that death by shooting is legal in India as it is allowed under the Army, Navy, and Air Force Acts. Under these Acts, a court-martial, in its discretion, shall direct that the death convict shall either suffer death by hanging or by being shot. The SC bench said modern science's evolution had opened the door to explore less painful options.
The SC said: "It is contended by him (petitioner) that a convict, whose life has to end because of the conviction and the sentence, should not be compelled to suffer the pain of hanging. He has referred to the 187th report of the Law Commission."