Report No. 35
Topic Number 18
Abolition or retention-Replies to Question No. 1.
214. Question 1.-
The general question of abolition or retention was the subject-matter of question 1 in the Questionnaire issued by us. The question was as follows:-
"1. Are you in favour of retention or abolition of capital punishment?".
This being the most important question in the Questionnaire, naturally almost every person or body which has sent a reply to the Questionnaire has expressed definite views on this question. While it would not be proper to come to a conclusion about the state of public opinion by merely counting the replies on either side, it would not be out of place to mention here briefly the nature of the replies received.
215. The replies received to Question 1 may be classified into three categories:-
(a) those who are for total abolition;
(b) those who are for retention without any modification; and
(c) those who are for partial retention.
216. In the last category again, there are several sub-categories which, while not favouring total abolition suggest abolition of capital punishment,-
(a) for certain offences, or
(b) in certain cases on the lines of the (English) Homicide Act, 19571, or
(c) for particular persons.
1. The replies were received before the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act, 1965, became law.
217. It is unnecessary to enter here into details of these sub-categories of partial retention, since the relevant topics are dealt with in the Questionnaire1 under other questions.
1. See question Nos. 3(a), 6(a) and 9, in the Questionnaire.
218. Those who favour total retention seem to form the largest majority, and considerably out-number those who favour partial abolition or total abolition. In favour of total retention are almost all High Courts that have sent replies, almost all High Court Judges individually who have sent replies, all State Governments and Administrations of Union territories that have sent replies, some Members of Parliament and\State Legislatures, all Inspectors-General of Police who have sent replies, many State Bar Councils or members of State Bar Councils, almost all State or District Bar Associations that have sent replies, and many Advocates.
219. The Bar Association of India is also for retention1.
1. S. No. 183 (Bar Association of India). The reply of the Bar Association of India under Question 1, is subject to its reply to Question 3(a).
220. An eminent member of the Bar is for retention1.
1. S. No. 161 (An eminent member of the Bar).
221. Almost all the High Courts that have sent replies have favoured the retention of capital punishment1.
1. S. Nos. 187, 167, 140 (High Courts).
222. Almost all State Governments that have sent replies are in favour of retention of capital punishment1.
1. S. Nos. 129, 242, 261, 143, 154, 182 and 311 (State Governments).
223. The views of the Home Secretaries or the Law Ministers of some State Governments have been received through the State Governments, and they are also in favour of retention1.
1. S. Nos. 131 and 313 (Law Ministers and Home Secretaries).
224. Governments and Administrations of certain Union territories have sent replies, and all of them are in favour of retention.1
1. S. Nos. 164, 106 and 303 (Governments or Administrations of Union territories).
225. A State Government1 has expressed itself in favour of retention, emphasising the need for maintenance of security and peace, and also pointing out that the abstract theoretical doctrine that human life is sacred may work hardship if applied to the classes of persons who consider the life of a human being not so sacred and who act recklessly without any such considerations crossing their minds.
1. S. No. 574, replies to questions 1 and 2.
226. Another State Government1, while noting that there are equally forceful arguments for and against retention, has stated that in the present uncertain conditions of life and in view of the fact that lawlessness and violence are increasing in all the spheres of life, it would not be advisable to abolish the capital sentence. In its opinion the death penalty is a social necessity, because it effectively deters people from committing murders by affecting-
(i) the future of the immediate family and friend's circle of the person punished;
(ii) the future conduct of others.
1. S. No. 580.
227. Many High Court Judges have sent replies in their individual names, and almost all the High Court Judges who have sent such replies, are in favour of retention.1
1. S. Nos. 97(a), 97(b), 316, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 251, 262 130, 137, 105 and 147 (High Court Judges).
228. Replies of several Members of Parliament and of State Legislatures are in favour of retention1.
1. S. Nos. 102, 207, 209, 210, 213, 214, 216, 221,224, 225, 226, 232, 236, 241, 244, 248, 249, 257, 258, 273 and 401. (Members of Parliament and of State Legislatures).
229. The Bar Association of India is for retention1.
One High Court Bar Association2 has sent a reply in favour of retention.
The Indian Federation of Women Lawyers3 is for retention.
1. S. No. 183 (Bar Association of India).
2. S. No. 493 (A High Court Bar Association).
3. S. No. 151.