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Report No. 35

Topic Number 16

Arguments for retention

126. Argument for retention.-

The arguments for retention or abolition of capital Argument punishment have been stated times out of number on various occasions. For convenience of reference, the important arguments on either side are summarised below. We begin with the arguments for retention.

127. Deterrent effect.-

Capital punishment acts as a deterrent1.

If death sentence is removed, the fear that comes in the way of people committing murders will be removed. "Do we want more of murders in our country or do we want less of them2?".

All sentences are awarded for security and protection of society, so that every individual, so far as it is possible, may live in peace. Taking a realistic view, so long as the society does not become more refined, death sentence has to be retained3.

The security of the society as well as individual liberty of every person has to be Borne in mind. Capital punishment is needed to ensure this security4.

1. The question of deterrent effect is discussed in detail separately paras. 303-372, infra.

2. Late Govind Ballabh Pant, Minister of Home Affairs, Rajya Sabha Debates, 25-4-1958, Col. 458.

3. Late Govind Ballabh Pant, Minister of Home Affairs, Rajya Sabha Debates, 25th April, 1958, Cols. 458, 459.

4. Late Shri Datar, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Lok Sabha Debates, 21st April, 1962, Col. 356.

128. Crimes of violence.-

Experience of other countries would not be conclusive for India. Need for deterrent control provided by capital punishment is greater in various classes of society. There is greater danger in India of increase in violent crimes if capital punishment is abandoned, particularly in respect of professional criminals1-2.

Moreover many Countries or States had to re-introduce capital punishment after abolition.

1. Cf the argument put forth before the Canadian Committee-Canadian Report, p. 11, para. 35 and conclusion at p. 14, para. 54.

2. In this connection, it may be noted that in India cases of dacoity and goondaism, accompanied with murder or attempt to murder, are frequent in certain areas.

129. Elimination of the criminal.-

When the public peace is endangered by certain particularly dangerous forms of crime, death penalty is the only means of eliminating the offender1.

1. U.N. Publication, p. 59, para. 216.

130. Realism in the prevention of crime.-

A particularly potent weapon is needed for dealing with dangerous criminals and individuals not only for protecting human life and cultural values but even to safeguard certain social property, which is placed under the protection of the law1.

1. U.N. Publication, (1962), p. 60, para. 217.

131. Risk to officers.-

There will be increased risk to police officers if murderers are not sentenced to death. Very often, there have been cases when murderers, after they come out or prison, pursue the man who got them convicted.1

1. Smt. Violet Alva, Rajya Sabha Debates, 8th September, 1961, Col. 3827.

132. Possibility of repeated murders.-

Society must be protected from the risk of a second offence by a criminal who is not executed and who may be released subsequently or may escape1.

After release, the murderer may well kill again2.

1. U.N. Publication, p. 59, para. 215.

2. Ceylon Report, Summary of Arguments, p. 40, under "Alternative Punishment"

133. Conditions in India.-

In countries where capital punishment has been abolished, the figure of homicide is very low; four in a million, or even less than that1.

1. Smt. Violet Alva, Rajya Sabha Debates, 8th September, 1961, Col. 3824.

134. Reprobation by society.-

Capital punishment marks the society's detestation and abhorrence of the taking of life and its revulsion against the "crime of crimes". It is supported not because of a desire for revenge, but rather as the society's reprobation of the grave crime of murder1.

1. Canadian Report, p. 10, para. 30.

135. As also observed by the Royal Commission1, there is a strong association between murder and death penalty in the popular imagination, and "it is reasonable to suppose that the deterrent force of capital punishment operates not only by affecting the conscious thoughts of individuals tempted to commit murder, but also by building up in the community, over a long period of time, a deep feeling of peculiar abhorrence for the crime of murder.".

1. R.C. Report, p. 20, para. 59.

136. By emphasising the gravity of murder, capital punishment tends to foster the community's abhorrence of the crime. This decreases the incidence of murder in the long run1.

1. Ceylon Report, Summary of Arguments, p. 39, under "Long-term Effect".

137. Public opinion.-

Public opinion is substantially in favour of capital punishment, and it would be unwise to abolish capital punishment contrary to the wishes of the majority of the citizens1.

1. Cf. Canadian Report, p. 10, para. 31.

138. Since public opinion believes in the effectiveness of death penalty, this sincere belief should be respected, and possible victims should be protected by maintaining the penalty of death. In other words, even if its deterrent effect should be debatable, for reasons of public safety, those concerned ought to be encouraged to believe in it1.

1. U.N. Publication, p. 60, para. 218.

139. Prison administration.-

If all convicted murderers were imprisoned, additional administrative problems would arise. Safety of the prison staff and the general public from the dangerous prisoners would be at risk, as a further sentence of imprisonment would have no deterrent effect on the dangerous prisoners1. Keeping murderers alive in the prison greatly complicates the work of prison administration2.

1. Cf. Canadian Report, pp. 10 and 11, para. 32.

2. Ceylon Report, Summary of Arguments, p. 40, under "Prison Administration ".

140. Saving of funds.-

The taxpayers should not be called upon to pay for the maintenance of anti-social criminals for an indefinite or for a very long period1. Money of the citizens should not be spent on maintaining people who cause great harm2.

1. U.N. Publication, p. 60, para. 220.

2. Kumari Shanta Vashist, Rajya Sabha Debates, 8th September, 1961, Col. 3817.

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