SC Agrees to Hear Plea Against Hanging as Method of Execution

The court has agreed to hear the petition 34 years after it upheld the validity of the law of hanging by the neck.

Updated
India
2 min read


The apex court has issued a notice to the Centre asking why hanging by the neck shouldn’t be replaced with a less painful method.
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The Supreme Court on Friday decided to hear a petition challenging the method of hanging by the neck till death.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud issued a notice to the Centre asking why this mode of execution of a death sentence shouldn’t be replaced with a less painful method. It has sought the government’s response within three weeks.

The bench said that the legislature should think of another method to execute a death sentence so that a convict dies in peace and not in pain.

The plea, which referred to the 187th Report of the Law Commission against the present mode of execution, said that Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution also includes the right of a condemned prisoner to have a dignified mode of execution so that death becomes less painful.

Lawyer Rishi Malhotra, who filed the PIL in his personal capacity, also referred to various apex court judgements, in which the practise of hanging a death row convict has been assailed.

The court agreed to hear the petition 34 years after it upheld the validity of the law of hanging by the neck. The Code of Criminal Procedure says, “When any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that the person be hanged by the neck till the person is dead”.

In Deena vs the Union of India (1983) case, the SC said that hanging by the neck till death prescribed under CrPC is valid. The court had said that according to all the research and data available, hanging by neck was no worse than any other method to execute a death sentence, in fact it was one of the most humane methods to kill a person.

The court had also said that the method of executing death sentences through lethal injections had remained largely untried. It stated that another reason against using lethal injections was the lack of expertise available.

Lethal injections are used in the United States to execute death penalties. However, in recent years, the method has become a topic of contention, with some states wanting to go back to older methods like firing, hanging and using the gas chamber.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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