Capital Punishment also referred to as the Execution, maybe a government-sanctioned practice whereby an individual is put to death by the state as a punishment for a criminal offence.
Capital punishment may be a matter of active controversy in several countries and states, and positions can vary within one political ideology or cultural region.
Fifty-six countries retain execution, 106 countries have completely abolished it de jure for all crimes, eight have abolished it for ordinary crimes (while maintaining it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 28 are abolitionist in practice.
The first hanging in Independent India was that of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte within the Gandhi assassination case on 15 November 1949.
- Evaluation of Capital punishment in India
In 1st Five years after the constitution was made Death Penalty the normal punishment for murder. But in the year 1955 the practice changed and discretion power for sessions judges to award either two sentences: i. Capital punishment or ii. Life imprisonment. In 1973- Cr.P.C.(CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE) was amended and parliament made it mandatory that if a session judge awards a person either of 2 sentences, the judges have to show special reasons.
The Supreme Court of India ruled that the execution should be imposed only in “the rarest of rare cases.”
Execution of Death Sentence
The execution of the death sentence in India is carried out by hanging by the neck until death.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (1898) involved the tactic of execution to be hanging. The same method was adopted within the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973). Section 354(5) of the above procedure reads as “When a person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that the person be hanged by the neck till the person is dead.” The hanging method may be a long drop, the tactic devised by William Marwood in Britain. The person has their neck snapped as they fall flat the trapdoor and is left hanging until they’re dead.
As of 2011, only two people had been hanged over the previous 15 years and there was not knowledgeable hangman to be found. 8 men are hanged thus far within the 21st century, last in 2020.
The convicts of the Nirbhaya case were hanged till death at 5:30 am IST on 20 March 2020.
The Army Act, The Navy Act and therefore the Air Force Act also provide for the execution of the death sentence. Section 34 of the Air Force Act, 1950 empowers the court-martial to impose the death sentence for the offences mentioned in section 34(a) to (o) of The Air Force Act, 1950. Section 163 of the Act provides for the shape of the sentence of death as:-“In awarding a sentence of death, a court-martial shall, in its discretion, direct that the offender shall suffer death by being hanged by the neck until he is dead or shall suffer death by being shot to death.”
Machhi Singh Vs. State of Punjab Case
This Case provided some exemption to the early judgement of the supreme court, earlier in Bachan Singh case Vs. state of Punjab ruled that only in the rare of the rarest cases a person can be awarded a death penalty but in Machhi Singh Vs. state of Punjab case provided some exemptions are the following:
If a murder is committed in an extremely Brutal Manner.
If a murder is committed by a motive which is total Depravity and Meanness.
If a crime is committed anonymously in proportion. Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab (1980)
The Constitution Bench judgment of Supreme Court of India in Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab (1980) made it very clear that execution in India is often given only in rarest of rare cases.
While stating that honour killings fall within the “rarest of the rare” category, Court has recommended the execution be extended to those found guilty of committing “honour killings”, which deserve to be a capital crime. The Supreme Court also recommended death sentences to be imposed on police officials who commit police brutality within the sort of encounter killings.
2. United States History of the Death Penalty as Capital Punishment
At one point in its history, the United States had a long list of capital offences, issuing a punishment of death for crimes beyond the modern scope of first-degree murder. The earliest known set of capital offences in the United States comes from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. In this colony, one could be put to death for any of the following crimes: idolatry, witchcraft, blasphemy. murder, assault in sudden anger, sodomy, buggery, adultery, statutory rape, rape, man-stealing, perjury in a capital trial, and rebellion (including attempts and conspiracies).
The first recorded execution in what is now the U.S. actually comes from before that; in 1608, Captain George Kendall was executed in the Jamestown, Virginia colony after being convicted of spying for Spain. By the Revolutionary War, overall the colonies only recognized eleven capital crimes. Death was a common sentence for so many crimes in part because of the lack of a viable alternative punishment. This wasn’t addressed until the 1780s, when Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania became the first states to establish penitentiaries. New Jersey, Virginia, and Kentucky followed suit in the 1790s, narrowing their capital codes and appropriating funds for their first prisons. Pennsylvania was the first state to divide murder into degrees in 1794. First-degree murder, similar to today, was the only degree that would receive a death sentence.
By the 1960s, most states made this division, but southern states were the last to limit the death penalty to murder; a conviction for rape or robbery could lead to a death sentence, in theory for any defendant, but in practice for southern black defendants. Today executions are conducted in private, inside the prison, with a limited number and very specific makeup of witnesses. However, at one point they were very public events, drawing large crowds and executing multiple individuals at one time. Connecticut was the first state to prohibit public executions in 1830. By 1836, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire followed suit. The division in policy and culture between northern and southern states can be seen in various areas within the history of capital punishment. It’s evident here in that northern states had a tendency to be at the forefront of death penalty reform, while southern states wanted to continue with their traditions or even increase the number of capital crimes. Many states, especially in the south, were resistant to removing executions from the public sphere, due in part to the deterrence effect it was said to have. The last recorded public execution was in 1936 in Owensboro, KY12, although the next year in Missouri, a semi-private execution did take place.
Michigan was the first U.S. jurisdiction to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason in 1846. However, it was not the first jurisdiction to consider or propose abolition. In Louisiana in 1821, Edward Livingston proposed a revised criminal code, including a section that would eliminate the death penalty. The state legislature rejected this provision but passed a lot of the other reforms. A handful of states followed Michigan, only to reinstate their death penalty statutes in subsequent years. By the start of the twentieth century, four states had abolished the death penalty.
By the end of the eighteenth century, the U.S. as well as most of Europe had abandoned “aggravated” execution methods and had generally adopted other modes of execution: hanging around the neck until dead or firing squad. The electric chair was introduced in 1888 and first adopted for use by New York. It was quickly challenged by capital defendants and those awaiting their execution, but the Supreme Court declared that it was a constitutional method of execution in 1890. By 1915, fifteen total states were executing individuals using this method. By 1950, that number grew to 26 plus the District of Columbia. The gas chamber was introduced to the world in 1921 in Nevada. By 1955, ten states other than Nevada were executing via the gas chamber.
Below is a Spreadsheet attached to Capital Punishment data Country by Country From 2007 to 2012.