Report No. 35
Questionnaire Issued by the Law Commission on Capital Punishment
1. Are you in favour of retention or abolition of capital punishment?
2. (a) What, in your opinion, is the object of capital punishment? Does the existing law sufficiently achieve that object?
(b) In particular, do you think that the sentence of death acts as a deterrent?
3. (a) Would you like to retain the sentence of death for all or any of the offences under the Indian Penal Code which are at present punishable with death1?
(b) Are there any other offences under the Indian Penal Code or any other law which, in your opinion, should be punishable with death?
4. The relevant provisions in the Indian Penal Code vest in most cases a discretion in the court to award the sentence of death or the lesser sentence of imprisonment for life. Is the vesting of such discretion necessary and are the provisions conferring such discretion working satisfactorily? If not, have you any suggestions to make in this behalf?
5. If the vesting of such discretion is necessary, what should be the considerations which should weigh with the court in awarding the lesser punishment of imprisonment for life? Is it possible to codify such considerations?
6. (a) Is it possible to divide murders into different categories for the purpose of regulating the punishment for murder?
(b) Is it possible to divide murders into two categories
(i) murders punishable with death;
(ii) murders not punishable with death.
If so, what kinds of murders would you include in category (i)?
7. (a) Are you in favour of the view that the normal sentence for murder should be imprisonment for life, but in aggravating circumstances the court may award the sentence of death?
(b) If so, what, in your opinion, should be the aggravating circumstances?
8. Should there be a provision in the law requiring the court to state its reasons for imposing a sentence of death or the lesser punishment of imprisonment for life?
9. Do you consider that even if the sentence of death is retained, certain classes of persons should not be punished with death, e.g., children below a particular age, women, etc.? What classes of persons should, in your opinion, be excluded from the sentence of death?
10. At present the Supreme Court has limited jurisdiction when a High Court has passed, confirmed or upheld in appeal a sentence of death (Article 134 of the Constitution and section 411A, Criminal Procedure Code). Are you in favour of enlarging the Powers of the Supreme Court so that an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court as a matter of right in all cases in which a sentence of death has been passed or confirmed or upheld by the High Court?
11. (a) Have you any suggestions to make with respect to the power of the President and the Governor to grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission in respect of the punishment of death or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of death under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution and the power of the Government to suspend, remit or commute such sentence under sections 401-402, Criminal Procedure Code?
(b) What, in your opinion, should be the principles which should guide and the procedure which should be followed in the exercise of these powers?
12. At present, the sentence of death is carried out by hanging. Have you any suggestions to make with respect to the manner in which a sentence of death may be carried out?
1. The relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the offences concerned are as follows:-
Section 121-Waging war against the Government.
Section 132-Abetment of mutiny by a member of the armed forces.
Section 194-2nd paragraph-False evidence leading to conviction of innocent person and his execution.
Section 303-Murder by a life convict.
Section 305-Abetment of suicide by child or insane person.
Section 307- Attempt to murder by life convict.
Section 396-Dacoity with murder.