Statutory Law: Supreme Court of IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½s Interpretation of Death Sentence Under IPC
The Indian Penal code 1860 has been the Bible of Indian law for the last 150 years. It was framed during the days of the British Raj and for the first time in the history of India a criminal code and set of laws were made applicable to the entire length and breadth of India.
One of the punishments for murder specified in the IPC is death. This is codified in section 304 of the IPC. It also specifies an alternative punishment as life imprisonment. This section was applied to all convicted of murder under section 300 of the IPC. As per records available hundreds of Indians were sent to be hanged during the days of the Raj and even after independence in 1947.
The government of India after independence constituted the Law Commission to examine the forms of execution. The law commission after a lengthy study concluded that hanging by the neck is the best form for the execution of a death sentence. An examination of the report of the Law commission Appendix 34 of 1967 noted that 1422 executions took place in 16 states of the union of India from 1953-63. The total number of executions in India may well be over 3000 after 1947.
In 1983 the Supreme Court examined the death penalty. It ruled that death penalty was within the bounds of the constitution, but it added a rider and made it mandatory only in the rarest of rare cases. In other words the norm for murder is life imprisonment except in ‘rarest of rare case' which would merit a death sentence. In a subsequent judgement the Supreme Court held that honor killings came within the purview of rarest of rare cases and merited a death sentence.
The Supreme Court also recommended that death sentence could be applied to policemen who commit police brutality in the form of encounter killings. The effect of the Supreme Court ruling has had an effect and after 1995 only 3 persons have been hanged to death.
There is now a clamour to introduce the death penalty for rape accompanied by extreme depravity and torture. In December 2012 the government has again constituted a commission to recommend measures for safety of women as rapes have reached an alarming number. The punishment for rape at present in the IPC is 7 years rigours imprisonment. The mood in India favors death penalty and generally people feel that it should never be scrapped.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling, nearly 300 people are on death row in India. India has also voted against UN resolutions to ban hanging.