Libertatem Magazine

Question of Death Penalty?

Contents of this Page


Chotkau v State of U.P.


Hon’ Chief Justice Dipak Misra

Hon’ Justice A.M. Khanwilkar

Hon’ Justice D.Y. Chnadrachud

Date of Order: 06.03.2018



The Petitioner moved a Special Leave Petition (Criminal) against the judgment delivered by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench on 18.04.2016. The Petitioner was awarded with death sentence for being convicted under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code for the rape and murder of a 6 years old girl. The High Court upheld the death penalty considering it to be the case falling under the category of the “Rarest of rare cases”. The Petitioner was guilty of raping then brutally murdering the girl which was considered to be heinous in nature. The Court deemed appropriate to award death penalty to the perpetrator. Hence, the present appeal.


The question of “Death Penalty” has taken the centre-stage.


The Hon’ Supreme Court of India in the appeal filed before it ordered to stay the execution of the Petitioner who had been convicted for Rape and Murder.


The question for death penalty against the individuals convicted of rape gained nationwide consonance after the brutal rape and murder of Nirbhaya in Delhi. The Justice Verma Committee had been constituted to recommend legal reformatory changes in the penal provisions of crime against women ruled against the death penalty even in the rarest of rare cases. The rarest of rare doctrine was first held in the Bachan Singh v State of Punjab. The death penalty for the crimes against women has been held to be given in the rarest of rare case. The category of the rarest of rare cases would depend on the case to case basis. The offenders in the Nirbhaya case were awarded with the death penalty as the heinous act fall under the category of the rarest of rare case. The present case has also been observed under the same category considering the barbarity of the offender committing the brutal act. It is, therefore, left upon the wisdom of the Hon’ court to decide upon the issue.

The issue of death penalty is ferociously debated when it comes to crimes against women. The society is divided into two sects where one side lay their foundation of imposing the harshest of the punishment as a deterrence whereas the other side believes that such deterrence would not fulfil the purpose. There are contentions to consider the socio-economic and psychological factors to be taken into view before sending an individual into the gallows. The recent State amendments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to impose death penalty against offenders convicted of rape against the girl below 12 years of age has been contentious in its approach. It is believed that our legal framework is based upon the foundation of reformation than deterrence, but the increasing number of sexual assaults against minors has been the biggest challenge that our society and justice system face, and every possible measure must be taken to check the menace and eradicate it in entirety.

About the Author