Capital Punishment is the execution of a person given by the state as a means of Justice for a crime that he has committed. It is a legal course of action taken by the state whereby a person is put to death as a punishment for a crime. There are various methods of capital punishment in order to execute a criminal such as lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, gas chamber, etc. Based on moral and humanitarian grounds, capital punishment is subjected to many controversies not only at the national level but also at the global platform. One must understand the death sentence by itself.
Many records of various civilizations and primal tribal methods denote that the death penalty was a part of their justice system. The system of the prison was evolved to keep people in confinement for some time who have done wrong in their life and was harmful to society. The idea behind keeping the criminal in the prison was to give them a chance to change and reform themselves. The idea works well with people who have done minor offences like theft, robbery, etc. A complication arises when grievous offences like brutal and inhumane acts of rape, murder, mass killing, etc. are involved. So, the contentious part is the grimness of the crime, which is the deciding reason for execution.
During the 20th century period, millions of people died in the wars between the nations or states. In this violent period, military organizations practised capital punishment as a way of maintaining discipline. The death penalty was employed for crimes in many religious beliefs and historically was practised widely with the support of religious hierarchies. Today, there is no religious faith attached to the morality of capital punishment. It has been left to the discretion of the judiciary system to award the punishment in special circumstances.
Most people feel that punishment for crimes like murders, rapes, and mass killings should not be death but some reformative or preventive sentence. The death penalty cannot reform a criminal, since once dead he cannot be reformed. Some people hold the view that no one has the right to take away anyone’s life for any reason. One should not take the role of God in taking away anybody’s life. At the same time, a criminal has no right to take away anyone’s life for any reason at all. If a person could go to an extent of taking someone’s life, he too has no right to live in a civilized society. Both the arguments can be cited to support viewpoints that are poles apart.
Mankind has coined a large number of methods of capital punishment:
hanging by the rope until a person breathes his last.
death by electric current.
the murderer faces a firing squad.
the offender is beheaded and executed.
the culprit is poisoned.
the offender is stoned to death.
he is burnt alive at the stake.
the criminal is made to drown.
the criminal is thrown before hungry beasts of prey.
death through crucifixion.
the offender is thrown into a poisonous gas chamber.
Methods can be different but all of these methods have one thing common and that is capital punishment is barbaric in all forms. It is savage and vindictive. It is a relic of an uncivilized era. Many people say that the methods by which executions are carried out involve physical torture. Contrary to the popular belief that the death penalty deters all future crimes, various surveys have shown that the threat of the death penalty does not in any way reduce the occurrence of violent crimes.
Capital Punishment in India
Capital punishment in India does not come with a single stoke. The practice of Capital punishment is not very common in India. In our country, the Court of Session awards a death sentence according to the gravity of the offence, and this verdict requires confirmation by the High Court. Then an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court of India. In some cases, an appeal to the Supreme Court lies as a matter of right, where the High Court has reversed the verdict of the Sessions Court either into acquittal or punishment or has enhanced the sentence to capital punishment.
Lastly, if needed an appeal can be made to the president of India and the governors of states for mercy. The President is solely guided by the notes in the files by the Home Minister or the Secretariat. He is bound to pen down the reasons for mercy. It is exercised very judiciously.
Contemplating over capital punishment has been ramping on for a countless number of years. It is true that the death sentence is not the solution to the increase in crimes but at the same time, capital punishment inflicts physiological fear in the minds of people. In many countries, the use of this punishment has helped to deter crimes and change the minds of future criminals against committing heinous crimes. Capital punishment should be given in the rare of the rarest cases after proper investigation of the criminal’s offence.