Capital punishment means the death penalty by the verdict of a judicial court. In our country, such verdict may be given in a Lower Court or a High Court or the Supreme Court with a provision of appeal up to the division bench of the Supreme Court and finally, to the President of India. It is given after much judicial thought taking the crime to be the rarest of the rare.
Capital punishment is the extreme form of the punitive measure taken against a convicted murderer, a rapist or a very serious type of traitor against the Sate. But now it stands as a debatable question all over the world. The issue centres around two vital points — (I) whether capital punishment should continue in a civilized world, and (II) if it is unavoidable, what should be the form of taking one’s life lawfully. In most European countries there is the ongoing debate about the validity of such cruel punishment in the present-day context. Moreover, there is a difference of opinion all over the world about the primitive practice of hanging the convict till death, or, the human, sophisticated way of putting him to death by ‘lethal’ injection.
Whenever the hangman’s noose is put around the sentenced person’s neck, there is a revulsion of public feeling — including the kith and kins of the convict — at the cruelty of our judicial system. On the other hand, there are a great many people and the family members of the victimised person who think that capital punishment is the right measure for the sake of proper and full justice.
Those who are against its implementation argue that the problem of crime should have to be tackled on the sociological plan. In their opinion, capital punishment is just another form of deliberate, cool-blooded official murder by the State and it encourages the barbaric doctrine of ‘an eye for an eye’, ‘a tooth for a tooth’. It is also argued that no person has the right to take away life which he can’t give. And the judge, himself, being a man, prone to commit mistakes. Moreover, the death penalty, though a deterrent punishment, neither guarantees a crime-free society nor gives the convict a chance to redeem himself. What is more important, if a society can’t protect a person from becoming a criminal, it has no moral right to hang him/her. Rather, life imprisonment may be a substitute for capital punishment. People, on the other hand, who plead for the retention of this severe punitive Punishment opine that if a death sentence is abolished, there will have no fear in the minds of the would-be criminals. In the absence of this strict punishment, Such anti-socials would get the courage for endangering the peace and security of the society.
Considering all these points, we must say that time is not yet ripe for the abolition of capital punishment through our ultimate goal should be its total abolition. For this, we should make earnest efforts to implement our plans and programmes for social, economic and political reforms and to make the prison not a prison only, but to turn it into a reform-home in its truest sense.