New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking alternatives to hanging as the method of executing a convict sentenced to death.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that the legislature could consider amending the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPc) to change the mode of execution to something less painful than hanging.

A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rishi Malhotra, an advocate, said the method for execution of a death sentence under the CrPc is barbaric, cruel and is in contravention of Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

It said the right of a death row inmate to die in a dignified manner should be made a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.

Malhotra has cited Law Commission reports of 1967 and 2003 where it was noted that there was an increase in the number of countries where hanging to death had been abolished or substituted by different modes of execution such as lethal injections, shooting and electrocution.

It also relies on a dissenting judgment of former justice P.N. Bhagwati where it was observed that most of the developed and developing countries had replaced execution by hanging by an intravenous lethal injection or by shooting which would be a more humane method of executing a death sentence, involving less pain and suffering.

Seeking a quashing of the provisions under the criminal code that lay down the execution mode of a death sentence, it deems it ultra vires (in violation of) Article 21(right to life) of the Constitution.

Under section 354(5) of the CrpC, the only mode prescribed for execution of a death sentence is ‘hanging by the neck till death.’

Close