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LUCID MAINS CURRENT AFFAIRS 2018

  1. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Capital punishment also called as death penalty is the execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law. The debate on whether to abolish the death penalty or not, has been raging in India and in several other countries for decades. The issue involves human rights, social justice, legal justice, right to live, social deterrence, ethics and morality.  The State's Authority is both questioned and established after the execution of a capital punishment.

ARGUMENTS FOR CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

  • Tougher punishments act as a deterrent for others to commit the same.
  • Crimes we are witnessing like horrific attacks on women, young girls, and boys continue even 70 years after India’s independence. This cannot be addressed by simple punishments.
  • The attacks on our security personnel are increasing due to different extremist forces. Such killings must be visited with Capital Punishment.
  • What may be relevant to other countries may not hold true in India, which faces a far greater threat at all times and has to fight it on its own.
  • It is the responsibility of the State to protect the interests of the society and reiterate the society's faith in system of justice.
  • If the criminal is kept in prison for life, the state would end up being a caretaker of the person who took law into his own hands.

 INTERNATIONAL PRACTICE

  • Around the world, 58 countries still practice awarding the capital punishment.
  • 102 countries do not award capital punishment for any crime, i.e. total abolition
  • According to the reports of Amnesty International China, Iraq, and Iran have awarded highest number of death penalties in the recent years.
  • In Europe, the death sentence has been almost abolished completely, except The Republic of Belarus retaining it.
  • LEGAL POSITION
  • Supreme Court of India in Bachan singh vs state of Punjab case held that death penalty shall be awarded in rarest of the rare cases · In 2015, India’s Law Commission submitted a report calling for abolition of the death penalty for all but terrorism-related offences and “waging war” against the state.
  • In November 2012, India upheld its stance on capital punishment by voting against the UN General Assembly draft resolution seeking to end the institution of capital punishment globally.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

  • Under Article 21, every person has the Right to Life which has been guaranteed by the Constitution
  • Crimes are as much about social failures as individual responsibility. By capital punishment, society is ignoring its role in crime perpetuation and simplifying crime prevention.
  • Judicial system is not properly geared to identify rarest of rare cases and most of the cases are being acquitted at appeal process.
  • Weaker and marginalized sections are succumbed to these punishments in most cases. Broken legal aid system, use of torture etc can cause administering of death penalty in an unfair manner.
  • In 2016, National Law University released its Death Penalty Research Project found that a disproportionate percentage of the convicts (80%) were poor, backward castes or from the minorities and their inability to negotiate the justice system
  • Objective of Justice shall be to reform.
  • State cannot take away sanctity of life.
  • There is no empirical evidence to prove that tough punishments will reduce crime in society.
  • Across the world countries are moving away from death penalty and India stands out if it continues.
  • India may not be able to forge criminal exchange agreements due to death penalty in its law.
  • As death sentence is irrevocable - an innocent person can also be wrongly executed.
  • Death sentence violates international human rights laws.
  • CONCERNS / CHALLENGES
    • The ambiguousness in the application of “rarest of the rare” criteria is a serious concern
    • Law Commission report said death penalty was arbitrarily imposed and disproportionately used against socially and economically marginalised people.
    • It reflects structural concerns which disempowers the marginalised
    • Alienation experienced by prisoners through lack of awareness of proceedings increased as cases rise in the appellate system.