Report No. 35
Topic Number 29
Whether other offences to be capital-Replies to Question 3(b)
413. Question 3(b).-
Question 3(b) of our Questionnaire was as follows:-
"Are there any other offences under the Indian Penal Code or any other law which, in your opinion, should be punishable with death."
Many of the replies received on this question have stated that it is not necessary to make any change in the existing law. But several replies have suggested the addition of a provision for sentence of death for various offences, and it would be convenient to deal with them offence-wise.
It has been suggested in some replies, that adulteration of food and drugs should be a capital offence. It is stated,1 that while an ordinary murderer might in some circumstances have some motive, the manufacturers of spurious drugs are "arch-criminals" guilty of mass murder of innocent citizens who have not given any cause for offence. Another suggestion2 is to the effect that offences of adulteration of food and drug, where there is a deliberate act done with the knowledge of the consequences likely to follow, may be punishable with death where death is caused.
The imposition of death sentence for adulteration of medicines and drugs has been suggested by certain High Court Judges also.3 Another suggestion4 is to the effect that adulteration of food and drugs in a manner likely to endanger human life, or to cause serious or permanent, bodily harm (such as blindness or other permanent physical disability) should be made punishable with death.
1. A Pleader in Calcutta, S. No. 128.
2. A State Law Commission, S. No. 133.
3. Two High Court Judges, S. No. 105.
4. Supreme Court Bar Association, S. No. 110.
415. Another suggestion1 is to the effect that adulteration of drugs causing or calculated to cause mass deaths should be made a capital offence, being an anti-social act of a grave nature. Still another reply2 suggests, that adulteration of food which causes death may be made a capital offence.
1. An eminent member of the Bar, through the Bar Council of India, S. No. 161.
2. Bar Association of India, S. No. 183.
416. Several other replies1-2 have also suggested, that adulteration of food and medicines endangering human life should be punishable with death.
1. A District Bar Association, S. No. 219.
2. A District Bar Association, S. No. 218.
417. The suggestion to make adulteration of food and drugs a capital offence has the support of a State Bar Council1.
1. A Bar Council S. No. 159.
418. A State Government1 has suggested, that "offences of food and drug adulteration where there is a deliberate act with knowledge of the consequences and death is actually caused", should be punishable with death.
1. A State Government, S. No. 31
419. A High Court Judge1 has suggested the extreme penalty for the manufacture of medical drugs that are either adulterated or happen to be below standard. Distributors and sellers of such drugs can be dealt with by imprisonment, but those who manufacture them are responsible for slow but sure murder on a larger scale, and nowadays go scot-free or with easy punishments. This must be stopped by legislation, and the offence should be made capital.
1. A High Court Judge, S. No. 251
420. Some other important replies1-2-3 also suggest the capital punishment for adulteration of food and drugs.
1. A District Bar Association in West Bengal, S. No. 223; Sessions Judges, S. Nos. 358, 359; A Lawyers' Association in Assam, S. No. 227.
2. Chief Minister of State, in his personal capacity, S. No. 255.
3. S. Nos. 294, 316, 321, 323, 327, 335, 352.
421. It may also be stated here, that in the course of the evidence before the Joint Committee on the Prevention of Food Adulteration Bill, 1963, the question of the penalty for adulteration of food was raised. Shrimati Poorabi Mookerjee (the then Health Minister of West Bengal), stated1-2, that she would be the first person to accept the death penalty for adulteration, if such a change in the law was proposed.
1. Report of the Joint Committee on the Prevention of Food Adulteration (Amendment) Bill, 1963, published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi (September 1964), pp. 272¬273.
2. S. No. 571.
422. In the dissenting note to the Joint Committee's Report, two Members stated as follows1-2:-
"We believe that the maximum penalty for major offences of adulteration, particularly so if repeated, should be, not six years as recommended by the. Committee, but death or imprisonment for life. Our suggestion finds valiant support in the view of a former Union Health Minister, Shri D. P. Karmarkar while he was in office, that adulterators of food are potential murderers who deserve the highest penalty. So also the Minister of Health, West Bengal, who gave evidence before the Joint Committee, described 'adulterators as worse than murderers. If the adulterator's calculated crime can cause death, why should not capital punishment be prescribed for such a criminal, in any case during the Emergency, and even thereafter, so long as capital punishment is not abolished by law."
1. Report of the Joint Committee on the Prevention of Food Adulteration (Amendment) Bill, 1963, published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi (September 1964), p. xvi (xvii).
2. S. No. 571.
423. The offence of adulteration of food has received some detailed attention in many other replies which are in favour of death sentence for this offence. Thus, it has been stated by the Judge of a City Civil Court in a Presidency Town1, that public opinion in the country appears to be that the death penalty should be extended to adulterated manufacture, sale or offer for sale of food or drugs that is likely to cause death and where death has been caused by the use or consumption of such food or drug, where the accused had knowledge or reason to believe that such food or drug had been adulterated.
1. S. No. 484.
424. In the reply of a District and Sessions Judge1 in Orissa, it has been suggested that adulteration of food where the food is "adulterated with lethal or slow and sure acting poisons" should be punishable with death.
1. S. No. 494.
425. A State Government1 has emphasised, that the death penalty carries with it "the ultimate restraining influence on human conduct, the greater the threat the more effective it would be". Having regard to this, it states that adulteration of drugs and foodstuffs leading to death of a person or persons, should be punishable with death.
1. S. No. 580.
426. Other suggestions for punishing adulteration with death have been received.1-5
1. S. Nos. 429, 431, 439 (District and Sessions Judges in West Bengal, and a District and Sessions Judge in Orissa).
2. A District and Sessions Judge in Maharashtra, S. No. 354.
3. S. Nos. 400, 403, 404, 407 (Advocates in West Bengal).
4. S. No. 401 (an Advocate in Bihar).
5. S. Nos. 280, 286, 357.
427. Another suggestion1 is to the effect that harder cases of pre-meditated planned action in the nature of adulteration, which affects the vitality or virility of the nation or human life, may be made capital.
1. A Barrister-at-Law, Calcutta, S. No. 150.
428. In our Report on social and economic offences also1 we have referred to the suggestions received by us to increase the punishment for offences under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
1. Twenty-ninth Report of the Law Commission (Proposal to include certain social and economic offences in the Indian Penal Code), para. 152.
429. One suggestion1 is that offences relating to the Army, Navy and Air Force should be made capital.
1. S. No. 127.
430. Arson.- It has been suggested in some replies1 that arson should be punishable with death.
1. S. No. 138.