Kasab's Hanging: Debate over capital punishment flares up

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Ajmal Kasab
Mumbai, Nov 21: Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged till death at Yerwada jail in Pune around 7.30 am on Wednesday, Nov 21. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil confirmed the news on Wednesday morning. The hanging of Pakistani terrorist has once again brought back the debate over capital punishment to the forefront.

Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime.

In fact, India on Monday voted against a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) draft resolution which called for abolishing the death penalty. India's contention is that every nation had the "sovereign right" to determine its own legal system.

India was among the 39 countries that voted against a UNGA draft resolution. An Indian delegate participating in the vote added that the practice of death penalty was exercised only on the "rarest of occasions" in India and the country's laws contained provisions for suspending the death penalty in the cases of pregnant women. The delegate further said that in India death sentences must be confirmed by a superior court and the accused had the right to appeal to a superior court or the Supreme Court.

Currently, 57 nations actively practise and 97 countries have abolished capital punishment or the death penalty. It is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states.

Since World War II, there has been a trend toward abolishing the death penalty. In 1977, 16 countries were abolitionist. According to information published by Amnesty International in 2012, 97 countries had abolished capital punishment altogether, 8 had done so for all offences except under special circumstances and 36 had not used it for at least 10 years or were under a moratorium. The other 57 retained the death penalty in active use.

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