Hanging by neck is the safer mode, Centre tells SC

Centre has told the Supreme Court that hanging by the neck is the safer and quicker mode of execution of death penalty. Representational Image

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that hanging by the neck is the safer and quicker mode of execution of death penalty.

"The execution as contemplated under 354(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code is not barbaric, inhuman and cruel," the Union government said in an affidavit filed in the top court.

The Centre further pointed out that in the Deena case (1983), it was observed by the top court that the provision does not violate the guarantee contained in Article 21 — right to life and liberty — of the Constitution.

After considering various modes of execution prevalent all over the world, it was concluded that hanging was the most suitable.

It also pointed out that the law commission's 262nd report for abolishing death penalty was under consideration of the government and that the report has been circulated to the state governments.

The commission's 187th report recommending lethal injection or hearing the convict out on the choice of execution was impractical and could lead to delay.

The response of the government was filed in a PIL by advocate Rishi Malhotra, seeking a direction to replace hanging by other less-painful modes of execution.

It also submitted that execution by a firing squad is not fail-safe and can be extremely painful if the shooters miss the heart, by accident or intention, in which case the prisoner bleeds slowly to death.

Also, those who pull the trigger may suffer from post-traumatic stress. In Vietnam and Indonesia, the use of firing squads has not been very successful.

The Centre also rejected the option of lethal injection, saying the belief that it is painless has been contested on the ground that it may lead to an uncomfortable death wherein the convict is unable to express his or her discomfort because of the paralysis caused by the paralytic agent injected.

"It is believed by many that lethal injections, as currently practiced, are designed to create only an appearance of serenity and painless death," it said.

The government also said the primary mode of execution in the Air Force Act, Army Act and Navy Act is still death by hanging.

Being shot to death has been provided as a second alternative, considering the martial nature of forces, it said.

"Capital punishment is confined to a bare minimum and there are a large number of cases where the death sentence is commuted to life sentence. Only three executions have taken place from 2012 to 2015. These were cases of convicts of the heinous offence of terrorism and waging war," it further said.

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