• Research/Scholar Paper name – Capital Punishment: Judicial Murder or Pressing Priority
  • Author: Ashwin Gupta
  • Affiliation: Centre for Study of Contemporary Legal Issues
  • Date of Publication: 28/09/2021


“Hang them now, Hang them Not”

The highest court in the land, the Supreme Court has given authoritative judgments from time to time on various points of law. The Apex Court has examined the constitutional validity and the human rights issue in the past 50-60 years. The Supreme Court has made it clear plenty of times that the Death Sentence is the fundamental law of the land.

Today India remains balanced between the global trend, away from the countries handing out death penalties yet the country that continues to execute. Despite showing off the worlds’ lengthiest constitution and priding over its strict “rule of law”, India continues to award death penalties, even though it is a signatory to the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) in 1990.

The existing level of privilege and the scot-free attitude of the Indian Government and its existing agencies should have us citizens slow down and consider whether those who await their execution today should be executed at all. The 1984 Sikh Riots, Babri Masjid Demolition, the death and destruction following the Coimbatore blasts, the killing of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 or the 2019 Delhi Riots, are all examples when the State compromised on the ‘Rule of Law’ during and after the said incidents of massive violence and destruction. Is this not enough to diminish the credibility of those handing out death sentences as a principle rule of law?

This study is a critical analysis of the judgements given by the Hon. Supreme Court after 1950(when the Indian Constitution came into effect, establishing the Supreme Court as the highest court of the land), in which death sentences have been awarded. It is needless to point out, that while delivering judgements, the court’s in India sometimes do rely on decisions given by their foreign counterparts. In general, Death Penalty is considered immoral and inhumane and there have been moral and ethical arguments for the elimination of the death penalty as a whole, which is not possible in a gigantic country like India.

Judicial Murder or Pressing Priority

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