Should Death Penalty Be Abolished

We live in the twenty-first century, but the death penalty’s roots can be traced back to when civilization came into existence. It was one of the widely practiced disciplines at the time of monarchy and aristocracy. We are living in modern India; should the death penalty be abolished? This article will discuss why and why the death penalty should not be abolished through various arguments.

Undoubtedly, the death sentence is morally wrong, but in some circumstances, it needs to be rehearsed to maintain law and order in the country. According to the Supreme Court of India, the death penalty should only be liable in three cases. Firstly, there is no second guess about who is culpable. Secondly, If the guilty has committed crimes for fun and is not influenced by the circumstances in any way. Lastly, even the death penalty seems like no punishment when the offense is so brutal.

Death Penalty Under IPC

Article 21 ensures the fundamental right to life for each citizen. It means that every individual is free to lead life however they want until they disturb the peace in society by committing a criminal offense. Several laws are made to punish detainees, and the death penalty is one of them. Nevertheless, death sentences are given rarely and only when the criminal has done something fierce.


According to the Indian Penal Code, death sentences can be given on eleven grounds. Let us see those.

Section 120B– Whosoever is a party in the criminal conspiracy for committing crimes.

Section 121– Provoking war against the government of India.

Section 132– Engaging in or creating a war-like environment in the armed forces as a result of which revolt occurs.

Section 194- Discovering false evidence to procure a capital offense conviction.

Section 302 303– Murder

Section 305Supporting the suicide of a minor.

Section 364 A Kidnapping

Section 376A, Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 Rape resulting in the victim’s death.

Section 396 Banditry and murdering. If a group of five members commits banditry and one of them commits murder, then each member of the group shall be liable to the death sentence.

Section 4, Part II, Prevention of Sati Act Supporting or Practicing Sati.

31 A of the NDPS Act Involved in the trafficking of drugs. Mainly in a repeated offense.

Problems of the Death Penalty

The death penalty is not any new term. It’s been practiced since the time society and culture came into being. The death penalty is also referred to as Death Sentence.

According to a report, the Supreme Court of India gave 60 death sentences between 1 January 2000 and 31 June 2015. And most of them are those who belonged to the marginalized sections of society or could not hire a private advocate.

It is important to note that more affluent sections of society are untouched when it comes to the death sentence. Many human rights activists argue in favor of abolishing the death penalty in India. Even Mahatma Gandhi was against the death penalty and once said there is no distinction between a person killing another person and a law killing a person.

Arguments Supporting the Abolition of the Death Penalty

1. As mentioned earlier, most of the time, the lower class of society had to face death sentences because they were unable to produce substantial evidence or hire a private lawyer. Between 2000 and 2014, the trial Court gave death sentences to 1,810 prisoners, of which 443 were found innocent later. It is the strongest argument in favor of the abolition of the death penalty.

2. Death Sentence snatches the basic fundamental right, the right to live, from a person. It degrades not only the convicts but their family’s dignity as well.

Arguments Supporting the Abolition of the Death Penalty

3. The third strongest argument against the death penalty is that the death penalty is only given to that section of society which, by birth or by capital, is the backward section of society. National Law University presented a report in the year 2016, Death Penalty India Report, according to which 75% of all cases in which the convicts face death sentences belonged to backward class categories like OBCs, Dalits, or religious minorities.

5. UNGA has stated that the death penalty does not produce any solid deterrent value in society, which means that the death penalty does not help eliminate crimes from society.

Arguments Against the Abolition of the Death Penalty

1. Is a life sentence enough to punish lethal offenses? Should the death penalty be abolished? The supporters of the death penalty claim that it helps in preventing future crimes. They say that the most terrible of crimes can only be prevented by giving the worst punishment. When the death punishment gets more frequent for appalling crimes, they say every criminal would think a hundred times before committing such a crime again.

2. Unlike some other countries, the death penalty in India is not given without solid evidence against the criminal. The punishment is entirely based on reasoning and logic. Once the decision of punishment is made, the convict can file a mercy petition and ask the court to reduce the penalty to a life sentence.

3. Along with other rights, the Indian Constitution aims to provide equal justice to each citizen. According to the supporters, those who do not have even one ounce of humanity left in them, who did not think about the result before committing such terrible crimes, should they have any right? Wouldn’t it be a threat to society itself if such criminals were left unpunished? How could a criminal be left on the ground of humanity when he/she did not think of humanity before committing the horrible crime?

Law Commission of India Report

In the most recent 262nd report (August 2015), the Law Commission emphasized abolishing the death sentence for every kind of crime, excluding war and terrorism-related offenses. Let us see what the report says.

1. The commission felt that on no ground the fundamental right to life could be taken away from a person, and it’s high time for India to take significant steps in abolishing death punishment in the country.

2. The commission suggested that the Indian government take practical steps in dealing with crime by reforming the police, providing victim compensation, and protecting evidence.

3. There is no logical reason why terrorist-related crimes should not be treated like other crimes. Nevertheless, the commission said that excluding it from the death sentence would have a negative effect on national security.


The question of whether the death penalty should be abolished has been a topic of debate for years. India is not the only country where the law gives this punishment. On the contrary, India is one of the countries where death punishments are delivered in the rarest of cases like rape and murder, terrorist-related issues, trafficking, etc. Many arguments have been made in favor and against the abolition of the death penalty. Notably, the death sentence takes away the fundamental right to lead life, but when the criminal does not think of humanity before committing brutal crimes, should the law take humanity as a ground not to give the death sentence?

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Also Read: Brij Ratan Mohta & Ors Vs. The State of West Bengal

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