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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Death Penalty or Capital Punishment - Important Topic For IAS UPSC Civil Services Examination

Death Penalty or Capital Punishment

The issue of Death Penalty and its deterrent effect has been in news lately and it is one topic on which there are strong arguments available both for and against abolition of Death Penalty. I have listed below some of the key points and arguments that can be used while answering a question concerning Death Penalty either in IAS UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam or at the Personality Test/Interview stage.

·      The Law Commission in its report has argued strongly for adopting the UK approach, which gradually abolished Death Penalty in 1999 by first reducing the number of crimes that invited this penal provision, and then gradually doing away with it altogether.
·      Citing observations from the American Courts and recommendations of Justice JS Verma Committee, the Law Commission has argued against retaining the Death Penalty even for the rarest of rare crimes as it is a “regressive step” and in no ways acts as deterrent on serious crimes like rape.
·      Supreme Court has also admitted that its own Death Penalty jurisprudence is arbitrary. The present law as laid down in 1980 in the Bachan Singh Vs. State of Punjab case established the “rarest of rare” doctrine is subjective and opinions on this differ.
·      If the Death Penalty is to be dispensed with for all except terrorists, it must also be ensured that life sentences for heinous crimes should actually be life sentences and not just 14 years as is often the case at present.
·      Arguments in favor of continuing with death penalty include:
o   Only in rarest of rare cases
o   Acts as a deterrent in society
o   Less expensive than life imprisonment
o   Ensures that criminals beyond reform do not commit any more crime
                                      © Civil Services Synopsis

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