This post has been written by Sukhleen Kaur Saluja, a 1st year Law student from Amity University, Chhattisgarh


The term “Capital Punishment” refer to as the death penalty, it is a form of punishment for committing of a crime. Hanging and shooting are two method of Death Penalty in India. The Army Act, 1950, however, lists both hanging and shooting as official method of execution in military court- martial system. Crime punishable by death in India include aggravated murder, other offences resulting in death, terrorism- related crimes resulting in death, Kidnapping not resulting in death. Death Penalty is legal penalty in India. At least 100 people in 2007, 40 people in 2006, 77 people in 2005, 23 people in 2002 and 33 in 2001 were sentence to death (but not executed). The curious case of Capital Punishment in India The four convict in Delhi gang rape case could be hanged on 1st February. There is clear focus on perpetrators of sexual crimes as particularly “deserving” of the death penalty.


There is practically no country in the world where the death penalty has never existed. The first established death penalty laws date as far as the 18th Century B.C. in which codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes. The death penalty was also part of 14th century B.C Hittite Code. In 17th Century B.C Draconian Code of Athens, which made death the only punishment for all crimes. In 10th Century hanging become the usual method of execution in Britain but this trend would not last, in 16th century some common methods of boiling, burning at stake, hanging, beheading and drawing and quartering. The number of capital crimes in Britain continued to rise and by 1700s 222 crimes were punishable by death in Britain.


Under IPC, the death sentence may be imposed for twelve different offences including murder, rape etc Apart from IPC, and several other laws also prescribe the death penalty as possible punishment. As per the commission’s report, there are about 22 such laws in the country including The Air Force, 1950; The Schedule Caste and Schedule tribes(prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989; The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 etc.


Death Penalty is legal penalty in India. It has been carried out in nine instances since 1995. In case of Mithu Vs State of Punjab judgment states that death penalty is not mandatory. The Supreme Court ruled that mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional. Section 416 of the CRPC says is a women is sentence to death is found pregnant than high court can order execution of the sentence to be postponed or may say imprisonment for life.

As per data on death penalty as many as 720 prisoners have been executed in India since 1947. In 2018 with 22 cases of capital Punishment, over four times more as compared to 2017. Madhya Pradesh topped the list of states giving death penalty.


The term capital punishment or death penalty is a form of punishment for committing of a crime. This method has never been used in America but criminals are put to death by shooting, hanging, electrocution, poison gas, lethal injection. In America legal execution took place in 1630. Capital Punishment is a legal penalty in United State, currently use 28 states, the federal government and the military and it was the first to develop lethal injection as a method of execution which has since been adopted by 5 more countries. Hanging hasn’t been the primary method of execution in the United States since 19th Century. Use of electric chair is legal in eight states : Alabama, South California, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some states can choose between death by chair and the more standardized lethal injection. Eighteen U.S states and Washington, D.C have officially banned death penalty

Also Read:  The Curse of being India's Daughter


The 262nd Law of India report death penalty has recommended the abolition of the death penalty for all offences except those related to terrorism. Although there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes, concern has already raised that abolition of death penalty for terrorism related offences and waging war, will affect national security. The commission came to this conclusion based on the following reason:

  • Evolving Jurisprudence
  • Changing International and National situation towards abolition of death penalty
  • Geographical variation in imposition of death penalty.
  • Structural issues and existence of a bias.

The commission concluded that death penalty does not serve the goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment. They made following recommendations:

  • The commission recommended various provisions for police reforms, witness protection schemes and victims
  • The commission felt that time has come for India to move towards abolition of death penalty.
  • The death penalty has been polished for all crimes except terrorism related offences and waging war.



In 2012 Delhi gang rape involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighborhood in South Delhi. The 23 years old girl Jyoti Singh was gang raped, beaten and tortured in a private bus when she was travelling with his friend Arwindra Pratap Pandey who was also beaten. There were 6 people in bus including bus driver. Eleven days after the assault she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment, but died from injuries two days later. All accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder. One was of the accused Ram Singh died in police custody. In September 2013, nine month after the incident, the Delhi high court convict the remaining four men of 13 offences including gang rape, unnatural offences and murder of the women and attempt to murder her male friend. It awarded death to all four convict. On 13 March, 2014, The Delhi High court upholds the death sentences awarded to the four convicts. Three years later, the Supreme Court on 5th May, 2017 upheld the death penalty.


Dhananjoy Chaterjee was the security guard of Anand Apartment. Hetal Parekh a young 18 year old school going girl was raped and murdered on 5th March, 1990 between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m in her flat, a time when her mother had supposedly gone to temple. After returning from temple, she being able to enter her home, despite repeated knocking, asked some servant to break the door. Hetal was found lying dead near the door with blood stain on her face and on floor. Two local doctors examined Hetal and declared her dead. After the murder Dhananjoy was not found in that area. He becomes the focal point of police investigation. Early hours of 12th May 1990. The charge sheet prepared by police included the charges of rape, murder and theft of a wrist watch. The session court convicted Dhananjoy of all offences and sentenced him to death sentence, The high court at Calcutta and the Supreme Court in India upheld the conviction and death sentence.                  


I conclude that the death penalty is morally right to considerable extent. Capital punishment is nothing but a judicial murder. In India capital punishment is granted for different crimes, counting murders, act of terrorism etc. Death penalty is officially permitted though it should be used in “rarest to rare” cases as per judgment of Supreme Court for India. So, Capital Punishment should not be abolished because there is nothing left instead of capital punishment for giving justice to someone but it should be executed in rarest to rare case or only in case of murder as per the judgment of Supreme court.


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