The death penalty is a government sanctioned form of criminal punishment, where a person is put to death by the state. Crimes that are punishable by the death penalty are called “capital crimes” or “capital offences”, and often include crimes such as murder, treason, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The latest execution of death penalty in India took place in march 2020, when four murder convicts of the Nirbhaya gangrape were hanged. Before it the last death sentence was of the terrorist Yakub Menon in 2015 for 1933 Mumbai blasts. The first execution by death penalty after independence was of Godse for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi. A death penalty or also known as capital punishment is sentencing a convicted criminal offender to death by court of law. In India the execution of death penalty is carried out by two methods those are hanging and shooting. According to Criminal Procedure Code hanging is the method by which all the death penalties in the civilian court in India are carried out, however under the Army Act ,1950 both hanging and shooting are listed as official methods of execution in the military court-martial system. Death Penalty and Trials The death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone is punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution. There has been a global trend towards the abolition of capital punishment; however, India has not adopted this position. What makes this form of punishment different from the others is the obvious element of irreversibility attached to it. A man once executed for a crime can never be brought back to life. So if any error has crept in while deciding on a matter, this error cannot be rectified at a later stage. The death penalty has existed since antiquity. Anthropologists even claim that the drawings at Vallaloid by prehistoric cave dwellers show an execution. The death penalty may have its origins in human sacrifices. Capital punishment can be traced back as early as 1750 B.C, in the lex talionis of the Code of Hammurabi. The Bible too set death as punishment for crimes such as magic, violation of the Sabbath, blasphemy, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest and rape. Plato too discussed the scope of the death penalty at length in his laws. During the middle age, the death penalty was characterized by particular brutality. Famous thinkers like Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke were also supporters of this form of punishment. The trials by fire, water etc followed during the 1600s can be said to be a form of capital punishment. The modern abolitionist movement started with the works of great Italian criminologist, Cesare Beccaria which convinced many statesmen of the uselessness and inhumanity of capital punishment. During the discussions on adoption of the French Penal Code in 1791, there was a vigorous debate for the abolishment of the death penalty. In the 19th century, the abolitionist movement grew with eminent jurists like Bentham and Romilly supporting such ideas. Michigan in 1846 became the first state to abolish capital punishment followed by Venezuela and Portugal in 1867. As a goal for civilized nations, abolition of the death penalty was promoted during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Capital Punishment is currently practiced in 58 countries, including the USA, Japan, Belarus, Cuba, and Singapore. As of 2012, there are 97 abolitionist states. According to Amnesty International, the worst offenders in 2012 were China (1000+ deaths), Iran (314+) and Iraq (129+). The organization confirmed 1, 722 death sentences and 682 executions (excluding China) in 2012. In Europe however, it is now a virtually extinct phenomenon with the exception of the Republic of Belarus. According to a study, about two-thirds of the countries have either abolished capital punishment outright or have not actually executed any death sentences in the last ten years.
PROVISION IN CONSTITUTION AND INDIAN PENAL CODE
This article of the Constitution enshrines the Right to Life guaranteed to every individual in India. The constitutional validity of capital punishment has been called into question several times in the India judiciary and this paper shall try to examine those several occasions. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 awards death sentence as a punishment for various offenses. Some of these capital offences under the IPC are punishment for criminal conspiracy (Section 120B), murder (Section 302), waging or attempting to wage war against the Government of India (Section 121), abetment of mutiny (Section 132), dacoity with murder (Section 396) and others. Apart from this, there are provisions for the death penalty in various legislations like the NDPS Act, anti-terrorism laws etc. The Indian Constitution has provision for clemency of capital punishment by the President. Once the Sessions Court has awarded death sentence to a convict in a case, it must be confirmed by the High Court. Even after that, the convict may prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court. If this also fails the accused has the option of submitting a ‘mercy petition’ to the President of India and the Governor of the State. Detailed instructions regarding the procedure to be observed by the states for dealing with petitions for mercy from or on behalf of convicts under sentence of death and with appeals to the Supreme Court and applications for special leave to appeal to that court by such convicts are laid down by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In this respect we may also refer to Article 72 of the Constitution of India.
Let us now analyse in deeper detail the nature of the capital punishment and its characteristics from the penal and practical point view, in order to try to draw reasonable conclusions. Our work will be developed as a confutation of the classic Retentionist points, in order to achieve a more schematic structure in the quest for clarity. The main reasons for support death penalty seem to be approximately six in a summary formulation: • Death penalty is required by justice • Death penalty vindicates moral order and thus is a symbol of public authority • Death penalty is far less expensive method of punishment than the alternative of life imprisonment • Death penalty is a more effective deterrent and therefore it better prevents crime •Death penalty more effectively incapacitates the offender • Death penalty is the only feasible alternative in many cases So far as the death penalty is concerned, it might seem that once it is granted that human life is sacred or that everyone has an equal right to life, the death penalty has to be morally indefensible. Such a punishment seems to be inconsistent with ideals of human worth and value. The previous historical dissertation was, though, intended to show that equality, respect and evaluation of human life drastically differed in the past. A punishment can be judged cruel and unusual or excessively severe, if it imposes more pain, suffering, loss of rights or other deprivation than is necessary to serve society purposes. Even if a painful death is what it always was, cruelty in human life is not. Cruelty and hence any cruel and unusual punishment, and the excessiveness it implies, take their moral degradation grade from the socio-cultural context, which is not fixed for all time. Everyone agrees with John Locke (1632 – 1704), when he writes “We may punish each transgression to the degree and with as much severity as will suffice to make it an ill bargain to the offender, give him cause to repent and terrify 11 others from doing the like”. Does death penalty fully satisfy these requirements? Punishment should protect and maintain the social order and justice, therefore it should, as far as it is possible, bring back to the right path the felon. The lex talionis has surely a strong moral and imaginative impact to the common fantasy, bringing us back to the time of masked justiciars, however a mutilated thief will be far a heavier burden for society, since his working capabilities have been restricted. Putting to death a murder is always controversial, but killing a criminal for crimes, which do not involve taking away the victim’s life, is unacceptable even in a lex talionis juridical system Conclusion In view of the above discussions, we can see that India’s thinking on capital punishment is still quite muddled up. It is not just a debate of legality and constitutionality of the death penalty but also the moral and social aspects that are related to this controversial topic that have to lead to extensive confusion in this respect. Keeping away the question of law, the question of the death penalty has to take into considerations factors such as public sentiments on one hand and tussle with the moral issue of the “eye for an eye” principle on the other. Also, it is known to us that error in making judgments is only humane and sometimes giving someone a second chance is like giving them a bullet again because they missed you the first time. In the end, I would like to end with suitable quotes which would give the readers divisive aspects of the death penalty to mull over. The Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics: “Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men. Assassination on the scaffold is the worst form of assassination because there it is invested with the approval of the society…..Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another but similar that breed their kind.”
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Disproportionate assets case: Delhi High Court stays Lokpal proceedings initiated against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren
On Monday, the Delhi High Court has stayed the proceedings initiated by Lokpal of India under the provisions of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013 against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chief and Rajya Sabha MP Shibu Soren in connection with a disproportionate case of assets.
The bench comprising of Justice Yashwant Varma observed and has passed an order on Soren’s plea challenging the validity of the said proceedings, claiming that the same was ex facie bad in law and without jurisdiction.
In the present case, the proceedings were initiated by Lokpal of India pursuant to a complaint dated August 5, 2020 filed by BJP’s Nishikant Dubey. Therefore, it has been directed by the CBI to make a preliminary enquiry into the Complaint under section 20(1)(a) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. It was claimed by Soren that the said order was not served on him.
While claiming the complaint was false, frivolous and vexatious, Soren in his plea submitted that according to section 53 of the Act and there is a statutory bar against the Lokpal of India assuming jurisdiction to investigate or inquire into any Complaint made after the expiry of seven years from the offence alleged.
The plea reads that the initiation of the proceedings under the Complaint, or at the very least, continuation thereof, once it has been demonstrated by the preliminary inquiry that it pertains to alleged acquisitions prior to the 7-year period and is clearly barred by statute, without jurisdiction and the same is liable to be quashed.
Further, the petition filled submits that the maximum period of 180 days for completion of preliminary enquiry from the date of Complaint expired on February 1, 2021. In this backdrop, it has been stated that by this time, only on July 1, 2021, the comments were sought from Soren which is beyond the prescribed statutory period.
The plea adds that the final preliminary enquiry report was submitted by the CBI on 29.06.2022, about a year and a half after expiry of the 180- day period. Such purported report is void and null and non-est in the eyes of law and cannot be received or considered by the Respondent No.1.
Thus, the court took note of the order passed by Lokpal of India dated August 4, 2022 directing that proceedings under section 20(3) of the Lokpal Act be initiated to determine whether a prima facie case existed to be proceeded against Soren. It is Soren’s case that the order was passed without considering the preliminary objection on jurisdiction being raised by him.
In the said order, the court noted that all the Lokpal of India recorded was that the comments received from the petitioner were forwarded to CBI so as to examine and submit an enquiry report.
It was ordered by the court that the challenge to assumption of jurisdiction by respondent no. 1 (the Lokpal of India) has neither been answered and nor dealt with. Matters require consideration. Subsequently, there will be a stay of proceedings pending before the Lokayukta.
Accordingly, the court will now hear the matter on 14 December.
DELHI HC SETS ASIDE MURDER CONVICTION & LIFE SENTENCE OF MAN WHO WAS UNPRESENTED BY LAWYER; REMANDS CASTE BACK TO TRIAL COURT
The Delhi High Court in the case Narender @ Lala v. State Of NCT Of Delhi observed and has set aside the orders of conviction for murder and sentence of life imprisonment awarded to a man in 2018 who was unrepresented by a lawyer before the Trial Court. Thus, the Delhi High Court has remanded the case back to the Trial Court for cross examination of certain prosecution witnesses.
The division bench comprising of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Anish Dayal observed and was of the view that there had been a grave miscarriage of justice to the man as when number of witnesses were examined, he was not represented by a counsel and that the legal aid counsel, who was present before Trial Court and was appointed on the same day and asked to cross- examine the witnesses on the same day.
On March, 2018, Narender was convicted for offence of murder punishable under section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. On 4th May, 2018, he was sentenced by the Trial Court for life imprisonment and also to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000.
In the present case, the case of the prosecution was that the man had committed murder of his wife by strangulating her to death.
In a appeal, it was argued by the man that during the substantial course of trial, he was not represented by a lawyer and hence the trial in the absence of a lawyer had seriously prejudiced him. He thus sought recalling of all the prosecution witnesses and thereby ensuring a fair trial.
The Court observed that the manner in which the trial is conducted, there was a serious denial of fair trial to the appellant and the appellant is required to be given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses i.e., the witnesses examined in the absence of the lawyer, or the lawyer having been appointed on the same day from the legal aid and is asked to cross-examine the witnesses.
Further, the court remanded the back to Trial Court for cross-examination of ten prosecution witnesses. Also, the court directed the Trial Court Judge to follow due process of law and also to record the statement of the man under Section 313 CrPC and permit leading the defence evidence if so required.
The Court ordered that the case be listed before the learned Trial Court on 26th September, when Superintendent Tihar Jail will product the appellant before the learned Trial Court and the learned Trial Court is requested to expedite the trial and conclude the same preferably within four months.
SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO ENTERTAIN PLEA CHALLENGING EXCLUSION OF SC/ST RESERVATION IN JHARKHAND DISTRICT JUDGES APPOINTMENT
The Supreme Court in the case Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Educational And Cultural Trust v. Hon’ble High Court Jharkhand And Ors. observed and has refused to entertain a plea challenging the non-inclusion of reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes communities in the process of appointment of District Judges in pursuant to an advertisement issued in March, 2022 by the High Court of Jharkhand. The present petition claimed that the exclusion of reservation violates Jharkhand State Reservation Policy and constitutional guarantee under Article 16(4). Apart from this, it is also in derogation of a resolution being passed by the High Court vouching to implement reservation in the Jharkhand Superior Judicial Service.
The bench comprising of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and the Justice Hima Kohli observed and has granted liberty to the petitioner to file a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution before the Jharkhand High Court.
The court while considering that the process of appointment as per the concerned notification is underway, Justice Chandrachud asked the petitioner to approach the High Court with respect to future appointments.
It stated that “For the future you can file a petition before the High Court… We will give you liberty to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.”
The bench of Justice Chandrachud observed that the Decisions of the Administrative side of the High Court can be challenged before the judicial side of the High Court. You can move the High Court.
In the present case, a writ petition challenging a similar notification was filed in 2017 before the High Court, which was eventually dismissed. It was observed by the High Court that there is no duty vested in the authorities to reserve seats for all posts, more particularly in higher judiciary. Moreover, it had already initiated the appointment process, the High Court opined that it cannot alter the rules midway. Thus, the appeal filed before the Apex Court was also dismissed.
However, in 2018 the Full Court of the Jharkhand High Court had agreed in principle to grant reservation in the recruitment for Jharkhand Superior Judicial Service. The advocates belonging to the SC/ST/OBC communities in 2021 had made representations to the Chief Justice of the High Court requesting for the implementation of the Reservation policy in appointment of District Judges (direct entry from Bar)/ superior judicial service. The impugned notification was issued without incorporating reservation for SC/ST/OBC communities in March 2022.
Mr. Arvind Gupta, Advocate on Record has filled the present petition.
Right to contest election is not a fundamental right; it is only a right conferred by statute: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in the case Vishwanath Pratap Singh vs Election Commission of India observed that the right to contest an election is not a fundamental right but only a right conferred by a statute.
The bench comprising of Justice Hemant Gupta and the Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia observed while dismissing a Special Leave Petition filed by Vishwanath Pratap Singh that an individual cannot claim that he has a right to contest election and the said stipulation violates his fundamental right, so as is required under the Act, to file his nomination without any proposer.
Also, the court imposed a cost of Rupees one lakh on Singh.
In the present case, Singh had first approached the Delhi High Court challenging a notification issued by Election Commission of India for election to Rajya Sabha after he was not allowed to file his nomination without a proper proposer being proposing his name. His contentions were rejected by the High Court that his fundamental right of free speech and expression and right to personal liberty has been infringed.
While dismissing the SLP, the Apex Court observed that the writ petition before the High Court was entirely misconceived.
The bench observed while referring to earlier judgments viz Javed v. State of Haryana, (2003) 8 SCC 369 and Rajbala v. State of Haryana (2016) 2 SCC 445 wherein it was stated that the right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right. It is a right conferred by a statute.
However, the Supreme Court in Javed (supra) had made the following observations: Right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right and it is a right conferred by a statute. At the most, in view of Part IX having been added in the Constitution of India that a right to contest election for an office in Panchayat may be said to be a constitutional right and a right originating in the Constitution and given shape by a statute. But even if, it cannot be equated with a fundamental right. It is stated that there is nothing wrong in the same statute which confers the right to contest an election also to provide for the necessary qualifications without which a person cannot offer his candidature for an elective office and also to provide for disqualifications which would disable a person from contesting for, or from holding, an elective statutory office.
It was held in Rajbala (supra) that the right to contest for a seat in either of the two bodies is subject to certain constitutional restrictions and could be restricted further only by a law which the parliament made.
Further, the court added that Singh did not have any right to contest election to the Rajya Sabha in terms of the law made by the Parliament.
The Court stated while dismissing the SLP that the Representation of People Act, 1950 read with the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 has contemplated the name of a candidate to be proposed while filling the nomination form. However, it cannot be claimed by an individual that he has a right to contest election and the said stipulation violates his fundamental right, so as to file his nomination without any proposer as is required under the Act.
Post-conviction compounding of offences is permissible: Himachal Pradesh High Court
The Himachal Pradesh High Court in the case Shri Kantu Ram v Shri Beer Singh recently observed that a court, while exercising powers under Section 147 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and can proceed to compound the offences even after recording of conviction by the courts below.
The bench comprising of Justice Sandeep Sharma observed in a case where the revision Petitioner, who was convicted under Section 138 of the NI Act by the Magistrate Court and was aggrieved by subsequent dismissal of appeal by the Sessions Court and had agreed to pay the amount due and settle the matter.
Thus, the petitioner had sought compounding of offences.
In the present case, the respondent admitted the factum with regard to receipt of the amount due from the accused and expressed that the prayer made on behalf of accused for compounding of offence can be accepted.
However, the High Court allowed the prayer and the offence committed by the Petitioner under Section 138 NI Act was ordered to be compounded.
The Court observed that the Reliance was placed on Damodar S. Prabhu V. Sayed Babalal H. (2010) 5 SCC 663, wherein the Apex Court has categorically held that court, while exercising power under Section 147 of the NI Act and can proceed to compound the offence even after recording of the conviction by the courts below.
‘Pensionary benefits to employee, who is removed from service for misconduct, is not at par with those who retire on superannuation’
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court in the case Bashir Ahmad Wani v Jammu and Kashmir Grameen Bank and Another recently observed and stated that an employee who is removed from service for misconduct is not at par with those who is being retired on superannuation.
The bench comprising of Justice Sanjeev Kumar observed while dismissing the pension claim made by a former employee of the J&K Grameen Bank, who was removed from service in 2011.
In the present case, the petitioner had sought benefit of the J&K Grameen Bank (Employees) Pension Regulations, 2018 whereby provision was made for terminal benefits.
However, the court disallowed the claims on two grounds:
Firstly, that at the time of removal of the petitioner from service when there were no norms, rules or regulations providing for the benefit of pension to the employees of the respondent-Bank.
In the year 2011, the employees of the respondent-Bank were governed by the J&K Grameen Bank ( the Officers and Employees) Service Regulations, 2010… it is abundantly clear that it does not prescribe imposition of a penalty of removal along with the pensionary benefits.
Secondly, it was opined by the court that though the 2018 Regulations had been made applicable to those employees who were in service between 1st day of September, 1987 and 31st day of March, 2010 and the employees retired from the services of the Bank before 31st day of March, 2018, however, this leeway cannot come to aid of the Petitioner.
The Curt observed that the reason for finding that the Petitioner was not an employee who had “retired” on superannuation from the bank. Rather, he was “removed” for misconduct.
The Court stated that the regulations apply to those employees who retired from the service of the Bank before 31.03.2018 and not the employees who were terminated for misconduct. Viewed thus, the order of removal of the petitioner dated 02.09.2011 holding the petitioner entitled to terminable benefits and cannot, by any stretch of reasoning, be construed to be an order of removal with the benefit of the pension. Neither, the petitioner, at the time of his removal from service, nor with the promulgation of Pension Regulations of 2018, is entitled to the benefit of pension.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the petition.
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