By: AMAN SINGH
Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process where by a person is put to death by the states as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution. Crime that can result in a death penalty are known as capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capital. Capital punishment has, in the past, been practiced by most societies. Currently 58 nations actively practiced, 97 countries have abolished it de jure for all crimes only (maintain it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 35 have abolished it de facto. Amnesty international considers most countries abolitionist, overall, the organization considers 140 countries to be abolitionist in law or practice .About 90% of all executions in the world take place is Asia. Capital punishment is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region. In the European Union member states, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment. The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states also prohibits the use of the death penalty by its members.
Any discussion on death penalty conventionally revolves around the argument for its abolition or retention. While argument for its abolition are primarily based on human rights and human dignity, those who support its retention emphasizes on its value as a deterrent, for death is the greatest fear in most human minds. This paper does not intend to engage in such a penological or philosophical discussion on the desirability of abolishing or retaining capital sentence.
India is one of the 43 countries retaining capital punishment. The recent execution of Ajmal Kasab and Afsal guru have once again brought the debates on death penalty in to public discourse. It is viewed by many as on onslaught on India’s growing image as a nation moving towards complete abolition of capital punishment. It has also brought forth a number of controversies relating to imposition of capital punishment like the rights of the convict and his family to be informed in advance about the impending execution as a ground for elementary etc. For instance, there was no execution between 2005-2012. Also, the period 2007-2012 witnessed the maximum number of presidential pardons, with Mrs. Pratibha Patel commuting death sentences of thirty-eight convicts to life imprisonment. Thus, it may be said that, developments in India had been consistent with the global trend towards abolition, though a legislative act abolishing it was still beyond contemplation.
There are different types of death penalty:-
- Crushing Elephant
- Devouring by animals, stings from scorpions and bites by snakes, spiders, etc.
- Blowing from gun
- Tied to the mouth of a cannon, which is then fired.
- Boiling to death
- Berried Alive
- Crushing by weight
- Death by asphyxiation or poison gas in a sealed chamber.
- Garrote used most commonly in Spain and in former Spanish colonies.