Hanging is the safest way of execution, Centre tells Supreme Court

By: | Updated: April 24, 2018 2:38 PM

Centre's statement came in reply to a Supreme Court direction which had asked it to find alternate ways to hanging for execution of death sentence.

 Hanging, Centre, Supreme Court, death sentence, capital punishment, death punishmentCentre also said that death by injection or shooting squad can be more barbaric.

Hanging is the safest way of executing a death sentence on a convict, Centre has told Supreme Court of India. Centre’s statement came in reply to a Supreme Court direction which had asked it to find alternate ways to hanging for execution of death sentence. The Centre also said that death by injection or shooting squad can be more barbaric. It also said capital punishment is awarded in rarest of rare cases and any attempt to make execution easier will dilute its effect as a deterrent .

After the reply, the apex court adjourned hearing in the plea seeking abolition of executing a death row convict by hanging. The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said court can’t say what should be the mode of carrying out a death sentence.

The top court’s observation came in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by Rishi Malhotra, a Supreme Court lawyer. In his plea, Malhotra had sought abolition of Section 354(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that when a person is sentenced to death, he shall be hanged by the neck till he is dead.

There has been only two execution by hanging in past 5 years – of Afzal Guru, the convict in 2001 Parliament attack, and Azmal Kasab, one of the 10 terrorists who executed 26/11 attack in Mumbai.

Earlier, an SC bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had sought response within three weeks on the PIL. It had said that legislature could think of changing the law so that a convict, facing a death penalty, dies “in peace and not in pain”.

Representing the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said that government was still working on alternate methods. Anand told the Supreme Court that government had tested lethal injections, but it was not workable. “Lethal injections are not workable as there are instances of it failing,” she said.

Earlier, Malhotra had argued that removal of the present mode of execution was also mentioned in 187th Report of the Law Commission. Referred to Article 21 (Right to Life), Malhotra said it also included the right of a condemned prisoner to have a dignified mode of execution.

Malhotra had mentioned lethal injection, shooting, electrocution or gas chamber as alternatives to hanging.

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