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Find alternatives to death by hanging, SC tells govt.

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Death convicts should die in peace and not in pain, it says.

Why can’t hanging as a means of causing death of condemned prisoners stop?

This query was put to the government by the Supreme Court on Friday.

The condemned should die in peace and not in pain. A human being is entitled to dignity even in death, the court observed.

The government should look to the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra issued notice to the government and ordered it to respond to the issue in the next three weeks.

“Legislature can think of some other means by which a convict, who under law has to face death sentence, should die in peace and not in pain. It has been said since centuries that nothing can be equated with painless death,” Chief Justice Misra observed in the order.

The court clarified that it was not questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty, which has been well settled by the apex court, including in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1983.

The court said Section 354 — which mandates death by hanging — of the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been upheld. 

However, the provision of hanging to death may be re-considered as “the Constitution of India is an organic and compassionate document which recognises the sanctity of flexibility of law as situations change with the flux of time.”

The fundamental right to life and dignity enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution also means the right to die with dignity, the court said.

The order comes on a writ petition filed by Delhi High Court lawyer Rishi Malhotra, who sought the court’s intervention to reduce the suffering of condemned prisoners at the time of death. Mr. Malhotra said a convict should not be compelled to suffer at the time of termination of his or her life. “When a man is hanged to death, his dignity is destroyed,” he submitted.

During the hearing, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, one of the three judges on the Bench along with Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, pointed out that in the U.S. a prisoner suffers for almost 45 minutes before his death by lethal injection.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 9:54:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-seeks-centres-response-on-plea-against-mode-of-execution/article19807630.ece

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