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Report No. 35

Chapter IV

Abolition or Retention

Topic Number 15

Major question of abolition or retention

122. Major question of retention linked up with objects of capital punishment.-

The major question of abolition or retention has to be considered first. It must be remembered, that this question is linked up with the topic of objects of capital punishment; if the objects of capital punishment are commendable and if they are achieved in a fair measure, then only its retention will be justified. If they are not commendable or not achieved in fair measure in practice, abolition of capital punishment would have to be considered.

123. It should be Borne in mind, that the arguments against retention have to be considered in the light of conditions in India. Arguments that may be valid in respect of other countries may not necessarily be valid for India. India is a vast country. The position regarding maintenance of law and order may vary from State to State, and, even within a State, there are districts which are notoriously criminal.

124. A large mass of the population is illiterate. The majority of the people live in villages, scattered wide and apart and looked after by a police force which is not uniformly adequate. There are, in some parts of the country, sectional feuds marred by fanaticism. The extra-legal factors that act as a check on murder in Western countries-education, prosperity, homogeneity and viability-are sadly absent in many parts of India, or, are in times of emergency, overpowered by other and more violent factors.

125. In this situation, criminal law and punishment constitute practically the only major safeguards for the protection of society, and the only barriers against the upsurge of violence by individuals and groups.

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