Capital Punishment in Relation to the Theories of Punishment in Indian Context

Riddhi Jain
Amity Law School, Delhi, India.

Volume III, Issue VI, 2020

Laws are the guiding force which enables a person to distinguish just from unjust. In lieu of maintaining law and order it is of paramount importance to inflict penalty on revolting, undesirable and infamous people who aim at disturbing the equilibrium of the state by their atrocious activities and to augment societal values.

In India, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 aesthetically defines and grades various offences on the basis of the gravity and impact that an offence can have on the society. The Section 53 of the Code construes the kinds of punishment to which an offender can be charged with and these punishments derive their efficacy from deterrence, reformative, preventive, and retributive theories of punishment.

Capital punishment is the most stringent punishment described in the Code, which is reasoned to effectively deter a man, which no other punishment is capable of.  A substantial change in 1955 was mandated, after which the courts had to record reasons for awarding death punishment. Its constitutionality has been challenged at numerous times and one such instance led to the genesis of the doctrine of rarest of rare cases.

The Capital Punishment is criticised on grounds that it is ambiguous, inhumane, ignites revenge and affected by the subjectivity of the bench deciding despite that it is inflicted only in the most barbarous, cold-blooded, and gruesome offences. However, the consequences of putting a blanket ban on capital punishment will render the State incapacitated to take requisite steps in case a rarest of rare cases surface.