Capital Punishment by Sanya Mahajan At lexcliq


Capital Punishment


In countries like the US, many states have temporarily put an end to the punishment of Capital Punishment considering it a cumbersome tool to take away a person’s life. Even in India, there have been discussions to put capital punishment to an end. Given the moral complexities and depth of emotions, capital punishment is a controversial debate on the global level. Here in this article, we would deal with what Capital Punishment is, its history, pros and cons.


What is Capital Punishment?

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the execution of an offender after he/she is convicted for some criminal offence. Derived from the Latin words “capitalis” meaning “head”, in simple context it is “execution by beheading”. Based upon the principles of due process of law, it is interchangeable with the punishment of Death Penalty, which indicates that a penalty of Capital Punishment may sometimes be used in the sense of life imprisonment.

As of now, around 60 countries use capital punishment in their justice delivery system. Also, 106 countries have completely abolished it for all crimes and 8 have abolished it for ordinary crimes while using it in “rarest of the rare cases”. Various jurists have given the notion that considering the cumbersomeness involved in these punishments, devoid of humans of their humanity the practice if capital punishment should be abolished.


History of Capital Punishment

Capital punishment has been used as a method of punishment since the ancient Greeks and the Romans. It was used mainly for incorrigible offenders and was used in a wide range of offences like murder, treason and the like. Babylonian Code has specifically dealt with Capital Punishment under the legal principle of Lex talionis (talion) which means “an eye for an eye” to maintain the proportionality in cases of Capital Punishment. In England, during the 17th and 18th centuries, capital punishment was made the formal punishment to deal with the most heinous crimes of that time.

Pros and Cons of Capital Punishments


  •  To avoid violent crimes in society, a strong deterrent is required. The goal of a law is to provide a deterrent against crime.  This deterrent could be capital punishment which is used in cases of rarity and sets an example that if ever such acts are repeated the consequences would be dire. This would also help prevent the crime from happening in the first place.
  •  There are cases of horrific crimes which are beyond the point of rehabilitation. For such cases, capital punishment not only creates a deserved punishment equivalent to the crime committed but also provides safety for the rest of society. It also prevents the commission of such crimes in the distant future.
  •  Death penalty eliminates the chance of escape for the consequences of a criminal’s actions. It eliminates the possibility of an illegal escape.



  • Capital punishment many times do not show its effect on the rates of violent crime. It is quite ironical but the states with most executions have the highest murder rates. It is, for this reason, capital punishment seems ineffective for the motive it was created.
  • In a country like India wherein many cases justice seems to be an ideal type which is hard to get, there are many cases where innocent people come within the clutches of Death Penalty. Though an exact number for such cases is impossible to be checked, this is a fact which cannot be denied.
  • Capital Punishment simply takes away the right of a criminal who may prefer to get rehabilitated. It eliminates such possibilities where a person who is not a habitual offender can seek a chance to rehabilitate. It assumes that nothing can be done about an offender which are simply in violation of his/her rights.


Sanya Mahajan

Legal intern at lexcliq

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