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Report No. 262

Note on Death Penalty

At the outset, I would like to point out that the Government of India voted against the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the moratorium on death penalty. In November 2012, India again upheld its stance on capital punishment by voting against the United Nations General Assembly draft resolution seeking to ban the death penalty.

In fact, no system of justice can produce results which are 100% certain all the time, Mistakes will be made in any system which relies upon human testimony for proof. We should be vigilant to uncover and avoid such mistakes. Our system of justice rightfully demands a higher standard for death penalty cases. The risk of making a mistake with the extraordinary due process applied in death penalty cases is very small. There is no credible evidence to show that innocent persons have been executed.

Amnesty International figures of death sentence though are available but no official statistics have been released so far. As against conviction of death sentence awarded to 1617 prisoners by trial court, capital punishment was confirmed in only 71 cases. Even out of 71 cases, in the span of last 40 years only 4 Hangings have taken place.

Two were terrorists i.e. Kasab and Afjal Guru and the other two do not belong to minority or dalit. So it would not be correct to say that our system has discriminated in any manner on account of poverty, minority, caste or being dalit. Yakub Memon was not a poor person and should have afforded the best of legal assistance. In fact blanket abolition of death sentence will not be conducive to the circumstances in which India is placed.

Steven O. Stewart, JD, Presenting Attorney for Clark County said "The inevitability of a mistake should not more than the risk of having a fatal wreck should make automobile illegal".

Death penalty abolition may increase in threats from International terror organizations and also internal disturbance like insurgency etc. to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of modern state abolition of death penalty may affects the security of the country.

There should not be blanket abolition of death penalty and that to make this system work properly we should strengthen the legal aid services to be made available to the accused. Death penalty is given only in rarest of rare cases after fair and proper trial hence to be awarded only in deserved cases.

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