Apex court seeks better means of execution

Says person should die in peace, not in pain

Apex court seeks better means of execution

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government whether hanging was the best means to execute condemned convicts, and if any other painless ways to execute them could be considered.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra examined a PIL describing death by hanging as prescribed under Section 354(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code as “barbaric, inhuman and cruel”.

It asked whether the legislature could think of another method that would allow a less painful way of executing convicts.

“A person should die in peace, not in pain. For, it has been said since centuries that nothing can be equated with a painless death,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

Though death by hanging had been upheld 30 years ago, the bench said the Constitution was evolving, and a dynamic and changing mode of execution could be considered.

“Something which was valid at one point in time may become invalid later,” it said.

The court passed a brief order while seeking the Union government’s response within three weeks on the PIL, which was filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra.

The petitioner challenged the method of execution of the death sentence, whereby a convict in hanged by the neck till he is dead, contending it was ultra vires Article 21 of the Constitution.

He said several countries substituted hanging by shooting, electrocution or lethal injection.

The petitioner also submitted the present mode was in violation of the apex court’s Constitution bench ruling in the Gian Kaur case, which stated that the right to life included the right to a dignified life up to death and the method adopted to end it.

On September 23, 1983, the Supreme Court declined to quash the provision of CrPc Section 354(5) in the Deena vs Union of India case, but it held that the execution of the death punishment should be quick and simple, and must not involve mutilation.

The petitioner cited the Law Commission’s 187th report in October 2003, wherein it categorically opined that hanging was undoubtedly accompanied by intense physical torture and pain.

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