Supreme Court’s Innovation of Death Penalty

Must Read

The Right to Information and its Working of 15 years

On 12th October 2020, RTI finished fifteen years since its commencement. The question remains whether the legislation stands up to...

An Insight into Custodial Death in India

“The occurrence of Custodial deaths in the world’s greatest democracy has raised the eyebrows of every citizen and shaken...

Implications in Travel Insurance in Light of the COVID-19 Crisis

As the world, today is crippled by this once in a century pandemic and as of date more than...

Second-Round Effects of Rent Control Laws: The Argentine Case

Introduction In colonial India, a city had an issue with its cobra population, which was a problem clearly in need...

Why Are the Big Techs of Silicon Valley Accused of Anti-Competitive Behaviours?

The big tech giants of the Silicon Valley are facing major challenges with relation to their monopolistic powers after...

KSK announces Sanjay Kumar as a Partner for Pharma & Life Sciences Practice

New Partner for KSK's Pharma & Life Sciences Practice King Stubb & Kasiva recently announced that Mr Sanjay Kumar has...

Follow us

The concept of “Judicial Innovation” formalized by the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers case was once again brought into use in the Tattu Lodhi case wherein a child rapist and murderer was given a “special category” of life sentence and thus avoiding the death penalty.

The debate regarding death sentence has gained mileage for a long time now. Many developed countries have done away with death penalty as a mode of punishment however in India still continues with it. It is highly paradoxical that India, a country which holds the principal of reformation so close to its criminal law jurisprudence still has the practice of sending convicts to the gallows albeit on a highly vague doctrine of “rarest of the rare” case.

To better understand the underlying rationale behind death penalty one needs to consider the main stake holders in the act. The chief stakeholders are the convict, the victim and the state. For the victim or their dependents to see the person who caused them unimaginable agony let go after a period of undergoing imprisonment can be deeply harrowing, for the state sending the convict to the gallows, specially for cases like heinous rape cases, terrorism etc. appears to send a message of deterrence. However, in the process one often needs to keep in mind the convict, the socio-economic conditions under which he commits the crime, his behavior post the crime, for e.g. most terrorists come from a background of abject poverty and are thus conveniently brainwashed by extremists into taking up arms and then again there are convicts such as Yakub Memon who lent out his full co-operation in investigation into the Mumbai blasts and also while behind the bars earned degrees in English Literature and Political Science and also taught his fellow inmates, clearly indicating an inclination to the much sought after “reformation” of criminal law jurisprudence, yet at the end of the day he was hanged.

Following each incident of hanging there is always a huge hue and cry and the purpose of the punishment of death penalty is always dragged into the discussion. The opponents of the concept put forward the main argument that once a person is hanged he can’t be brought back again even if there later appears to be evidence that could have stopped the death penalty. There are many proponents of the practice of death penalty and their justification for the same is that it helps in creating deterrence, appeasing the wrath of the society etc.,. However, death penalty in itself is controversial and even one wrong sentence has a massive weightage owing to the fact that it can’t be set right again.

Maybe keeping these in mind the Supreme Court of India came up with the “judicial innovation” doctrine wherein the convict is permanently kept behind the bars and not released after 14 years in the name of life imprisonment which is truly a great alternative to the extreme step of death penalty. The approach is laudatory in the sense that it takes care of both the victims, including the society and also the convict, i.e., he will be kept behind the bars for the remainder of his life if he is incapable of reformation and considered unsuitable to join the society at large.

The observations of the Supreme Court in a bench consisting of Justice Chelameswar, Justice Kirti Singh, Justice Manohar Sapre, in the case of Tattu Lodha was that while the case did not fall within the ambit of “rarest of the rare” cases yet the imprisonment of only 14 years would not be a sufficient punishment for the offense committed. In the same case the Trial Court and the High Court had awarded death penalty to the convict. The Supreme Court clearly held that 14 years would be too less a punishment and ordered that he shall not be released from prison till he completes an actual prison sentence of 25 years, while at the same time holding that it would not be fit to send him to the gallows.

Looking at it from a legal perspective the punishment awarded while bridging the gap between the extreme life sentence and mere 14 years’ imprisonment, at the same time not violating any provisions and falling perfectly within the ambit of the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Looking at this sentence from a neutral point of view, it addresses the concerns of both the parties, the convict and the victim and ensures that no party loses. It is important to the society as they see the convict being punished for the offence and removed from the society on a permanent basis or at least for a very long period of time. For the victim it is important as he is not sent to the gallows and once proven that he is capable of reformation and of being able to live in the society he will be allowed to do so and if not then he will be removed from it permanently.

This is the kind of sentencing that a criminal jurisprudence system like India has long awaited. Death Penalty via various statistics has not proven to be an effective deterrent and the offence for which most death penalties have been given, terrorism and heinous rapes resulting in death, have been committed time and again even after cases of the offenders being sentenced to death. The primary reason for the same can be attributed to the fact that death penalties come to limelight only in sensational cases, most death penalties don’t receive the amount of coverage that is required to create the requisite awareness which can create deterrence. For e.g. how many people belonging to the lower rungs of the society, who are often the chief perpetrators of death penalty seeking offenses, are actually aware of the number of death penalties carried out and for which offenses they are being carried out.

Thus, in such a social situation wherein death penalty fails to achieve its desired objective there lies little sense in continuing with it in its present form and also after relying on a doctrine as vague as “rarest of the rare”, this innovative approach of the Apex court makes much more sense, both to the society and to the state, which is welfare-oriented in nature and seeks to reform rather than to retribute.

Latest News

Madras High Court Observes Unexplained Delay in Procedural Safeguards, Quashes Detention Through Writ Petition

A Writ Petition was filed under Article 226 to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus. The petitioner P. Lakshmi, called for records of the...

UK Court of Appeal Rules Home Department’s Deportation Policy of Immigrants Unlawful

Britain’s Court of Appeal quashed the Home Department’s deportation policy, declaring it unlawful; criticizing it for being too stringent on immigrants to comply with. Background The...

Supreme Court Stays Order Restraining Physical Campaigns in the Madhya Pradesh Bye-Elections

On the 26th of October, a Bench was set up which comprised Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. They heard...

Inordinate and Unexplained Delay in Considering Representation by Government Renders Detention Order Illegal: Madras High Court

A Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution was filed in the Madras High Court to declare the detention order of the husband of...

Privy Council Clarifies Approach To Winding up in “Deadlock” Cases in the Case of Chu v. Lau

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council clarified several aspects of the law concerning just and equitable winding-up petitions, as well as shareholder disputes...

Madras High Court Directs Hospital To Submit Necessary Medical Reports to Authorization Committee for Approval of Kidney Transplant

A Writ Petition was filed under Article 226 to issue a Writ of Mandamus to K.G. Hospital, Coimbatore by P. Sankar & V. Sobana....

Punjab Woman Evokes Petition for Protection Fearing Honour Killing

In the case of Divya Mattu and another vs State of Punjab and others, the petitioner, Divya, fearing honour killing against her by her...

Punjab Woman Accuses Punjab Police of Keeping Husband in Illegal Custody and Framing Him in a False Case

In the case of Geeta v the State of Punjab, the petitioner evoked a writ petition of habeas corpus as she claimed that her...

Addition of Words as Prefixes or Suffixes Is an Infringement of a Registered Trademark: Delhi High Court

Justice Jayanth Nath allowed the Times Group to use its registered trademark “Newshour”, in the case of Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd v. ARG Outlier...

Just Because the Deceased Did Not Have License, Does Not Imply He Was Negligent: Chhattisgarh High Court

In the case of Hemlal & Others v. Dayaram & Others, a Single Bench of Chhattisgarh High Court consisting of Justice Sanjay S. Agrawal annunciated various...

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -