Death penalty is privilege of poor, says Law Commission head

New Delhi, Jul 11: Noting that poor and downtrodden usually go to the gallows, Chairman of the Law Commission of India Justice A P Shah has said there was a "serious" need to re-examine the death penalty in the country. "It is usually the poor and downtrodden who are subject to death penalty.

Death penalty is the privilege of the poor. "There are inconsistencies in the system and there is a need for an alternative model to sentencing crimes and a serious need to re-examine the death penalty in India," Justice Shah, a former Delhi High Court Judge, said.

'Death penalty is privilege of poor'

Justice Shah was speaking at a lecture on 'Universal Abolition of Death Penalty: A Human Rights Imperative', by Professor Roger Hood of University of Oxford. The event was organised by Law Commission of India in association with O P Jindal Global University (OPJGU) and National Law University.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of OPJGU, said,"The most significant aspect of death penalty is its irreversibility.

India's penal and criminal jurisprudence calls for inquiry and reflection in the morality and effectiveness of death penalty and needs to move towards ultimate abolishment."

Expressing his views, Professor Hood pointed out that only two executions have been carried out by India since 2004, both for terrorist attack --- that of Ajmal Kasab in 2012 and Afzal Guru in 2013.

"In both the cases, the executive was criticised for carrying out the executions on secrecy and failing to ensure that due regard was accorded to human dignity," he said and questioned if it was justifiable to retain death penalty for such crimes.


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