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Report No. 262

(ii) The new Code of Criminal Procedure in 1973

1.3.7 The Commission's recommendations in the 35th Report predate the current Code of Criminal Procedure ('CrPC'), which was enacted in 1973. This resulted in an amendment to Section 354(3), requiring "special reasons" to be given when the death sentence was imposed for an offence where the punishment could be life imprisonment or death.

The Supreme Court, in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684 ('Bachan Singh') has interpreted this to mean that the normal sentence for murder should be imprisonment for life, and that only in the rarest of rare cases should the death penalty be imposed.

1.3.8 Section 354(3) went contrary to the Recommendations of the 35th Report, which stated that, "The Commission does not recommend any provision (a) that the normal sentence for murder should be imprisonment for life but in aggravating circumstances the court may award the sentence of death."24

24. Law Commission of India, 35th Report, 1967, at para 7 (Summary of Main Conclusions and Recommendations), available at
http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/Report35Vol1and3.pdf
(last viewed on 7.08.2015).

1.3.9 Pertinently, the Report also recommended that Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code, remain unchanged25 (subsequently held unconstitutional in Mithu v. State of Punjab, (1983) 2 SCC 277), and that there was no requirement for a minimum interval between the death sentence and the actual execution27 (subsequently made 14 days in Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India, (2014) 3 SCC 1). Such developments emphasise the importance of relooking at the Report.

25. Law Commission of India, 35th Report, 1967, at para 4 (Summary of Main Conclusions and Recommendations), available at
http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/Report35Vol1and3.pdf
(last viewed on 7.08.2015).

27. Law Commission of India, 35th Report, 1967, at para 1161-1162, available at
http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/Report35Vol1and3.pdf
(last viewed on 7.08.2015).



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