Hanging by the neck till death is safer


The Centre on Tuesday defended “hanging by the neck till death”— the practice of execution of death sentence — before the Supreme Court, terming it a safer and quick method for termination of life of a death row convict.

It said other modes of execution of death sentences such as lethal injection or firing squad, if bungled, could lead to results that could be called barbaric, inhuman, and cruel.

“The procedure followed for execution by electrocution or lethal injection or firing squad could be just as inhumane or barbaric to another person. As far as likelihood of execution getting botched up is concerned, the statistics show that hanging with more advanced procedures is for safer than techniques such as lethal injection,” the NDA Government said in an affidavit filed in the top court.

It said hanging was consistent with the State’s obligation to ensure the process of execution was conducted with decency and decorum without involving degradation or brutality of any kind.

The affidavit has been filed in response to a PIL filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra seeking abolition of the practice of hanging by the neck till death followed in India. Alternative methods such as intravenous lethal injection or shooting should be used for execution, Malhotra submitted in his petition filed in September 2017.

Malhotra contended that hanging involved prolonged pain and suffering compared to the other two methods. He wanted the top court to “declare Right to Die by a dignified procedure of death” as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Quoting 1996 Supreme Court verdict in Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab, he submitted “the right to life, including the right to live with human dignity, would mean the existence of such a right up to the end of natural life. This also includes the right to a dignified life up to the point of death, including a dignified procedure of death…”

The entire execution process in hanging takes over 40 minutes to declare a convict dead while shooting involves not more than a few minutes and intravenous lethal injection it’s hardly five minutes, he contended.

Citing Law Commission’s 35th Report submitted to the Government in 1967, he said most of the countries have adopted electrocution, firing squad or gas chamber as a substitute for death by hanging.

Malhotra wanted the top court to declare unconstitutional Section 354(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which says “when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.

However, the Centre rejected it saying, the report failed to consider that medical professionals were unlikely to participate in execution by lethal injection, the possibility of failure of chemical which will
be used for such lethal injection had not been factored in.



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