ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Law Commission Report on 'Death Penalty'

A Chance to Overcome Incoherence in Indian Jurisprudence?

Indian jurisprudence is at a place today where we are neither sure of the deterrent effect of the death penalty nor as to when it ought to be awarded. Whichever way one wants to look at it, the death penalty serves no reasonable penological purpose. The only objective that it seems to fulfil is the aberrant sense of catharsis that it offers to a public baying for blood. Perhaps, the Law Commission’s new report will serve to provide the research for a fresh constitutional challenge. And perhaps the Supreme Court will, on this occasion, play its true role as a counter-majoritarian institution.

The penalty of death differs from all other forms of criminal punishment, not in degree but in kind. It is unique in its total irrevocability. It is unique in its rejection of rehabilitation of the convict as a basic purpose of criminal justice. And it is unique, finally, in its absolute renunciation of all that is embodied in our concept of humanity.

            – Justice Potter Stewart of the US Supreme Court in Furman vs Georgia.1

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