Home/ Opinion / Quick Edit/  Too harsh a penalty

On Tuesday, India’s Supreme Court said it would re-examine the validity of hanging till death as the means by which capital punishment is meted out in this country. With all due respect, there is little to examine here. It’s a practice that should have been abandoned long ago, or at least when it was last reviewed by the apex court back in 1983. Acquaintance with what exactly a hanging involves could make anybody’s guts churn. The hangman’s job is a specialized one. Much care must be taken for a swift execution that minimizes suffering to the extent possible. In spite of such efforts, it’s invariably so horrific that one wonders what has let this legacy of barbaric times persist to this day. Our justice system is not meant to be vindictive but reformative. It’s a shame that inertia has stymied moves to adopt less painful ways for the state to take a convict’s life. Given that judicial rulings are imperfect and miscarriages do occur as a statistical reality across jurisdictions globally, what merits a debate today is whether the death penalty itself should be axed. It’s for “rarest of rare" cases, a doctrine whose scope is open to interpretation, but why should we risk murder by public consent?

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Updated: 23 Mar 2023, 12:56 AM IST
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